When Job Applications Leave You Speechless

From: Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

The following article, from my colleague, Heather Joyner, first appeared on her website, The PSAP Consultant, and is reprinted here in its entirety with her permission. Thank you Heather!


As a PSAP [Public Safety Answering Point] manager one of the BIGGEST responsibilities is hiring and on-boarding new employees. Let’s face it, this profession is one where the doors are constantly swinging open with turnover. It’s easy to blame the management team, but the issues with retention in PSAPs are much more rooted than what’s on the surface of workplace relationships.

Often, PSAP managers find themselves filling vacant positions due to the stressors of the job, the demands of the work schedule, less than appealing salaries/benefits, or lack of training or advancement opportunities due to not having an adequate budget.

When PSAP managers are faced with filling these positions the grueling process of reviewing job applications and weeding out

A public-safety answering point (PSAP), sometimes called “public-safety access point”, is a call center in Canada and the United States responsible for answering calls to an emergency telephone number for police, firefighting, and ambulance services. Trained Emergency Telecommunicators are also usually responsible for dispatching these emergency services.

applicants begins. For many this process may include a variety of steps. Some may require observation time, skills testing, oral communications tests, drug screenings, and for all, completing the applicants’ criminal background check, which unfortunately, eliminates over half the applicant pool.

I can tell you over my career I have reviewed many. I don’t know about you, but what I’ve noticed is the increase in job applications that come across my desk where the applicants are putting less effort in completing. Some applications never even make it through the first stage and that is completing the required fields to show their skill level to even be considered for the position in which they are pursuing. The grammar, the wording, lack of information, sorry to say, is becoming the norm.

So, how do we attract the right talent and fill vacant positions with qualified candidates? Here are some of the things that we’re experimenting with…

Not every student is college material, and that’s OK. Not all students have the resources or desire to attend college. Many are ready to hit the workforce running. Take this as your advantage and engage with your local high schools or vocational/technical students. Schedule a “Get Your 911 Career Started Day” prior to their graduation and share of the profession; the good, the bad and the ugly. Schedule students for observation time inside your communications center and assign them with a mentor for seeing the work in action. During the observation time, share of the expectations when applying and set them up to be successful in the process.

Not only are we working with the high schools, but we’ve also partnered with our local community college and serviced agencies for hosting a “Public Safety Job Fair”. This allows the 911 center, law enforcement agencies, fire departments, emergency medical services, Department of Corrections, and the community college to engage with students and showcase the different options for employment, as well as educational resources for continued education.

Another valuable resource is your Employment Security Commission. Schedule a meeting for discussing your challenges and share of your requirements as they can assist in looking for qualified candidates who are job seeking for employment or career advancements.

And, if allowed, staffing agencies such as Express Employment Professionals can be another valuable resource worth exploring. If you’re not familiar, they are the leading staffing provider in the U.S., Canada and South Africa. Every day, their mission is to help job seekers find work and help businesses find qualified employees.

Now, let’s be innovative and get out of our dungeons and behind the scenes offices and engage with the resources in our communities for making our process of reviewing applications less grueling.

URL to this article on Heather’s website, The PSAP Consultant, https://thepsapconsultant.com/blog/f/when-job-applications-leave-you-speechless


About Robert Avsec, Executive Fire Officer

Battalion Chief (Ret.) Robert Avsec served with the men and women of the Chesterfield County (VA) Fire and EMS Department for 26 years. He’s now using his acquired knowledge, skills, and experiences as a freelance writer for FireRescue1.com and as the “blogger in chief” for this blog. Chief Avsec and his wife of 30+ years now make their home in Cross Lanes, WV. Contact him via e-mail, rpa1157@gmail.com.