Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) Client Story

The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test gives me peace of mind that we’re hiring qualified people who are able to do the job.

Client-at-a-Glance: Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO)

For more than 65 years, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) has provided electrical services to its customers. SMECO supplies power to more than 130,000 residential, commercial, and individual customers, and remains a cooperative corporation, owned by its members and operated for them on a non-profit basis. Rates are based on the cost of doing business. Surplus income, if any, is returned to the members through capital credits.

Basic Skills Test Supports Internal Promotions

Although many entry-level jobs do not require advanced reading and mathematics skills, Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO) found that in order to promote from within and maintain their employee base, all entry-level hires had to possess a specific skill level.

“At SMECO, people in entry-level jobs can bid into other positions,” explains HR professional Judy Dudley. “But some good entry-level workers were bidding for and getting promoted into jobs without having the skills level they needed.”

That’s when Dudley turned to the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test (WBST). She gives the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test to all qualified applicants for entry-level positions including apprentice lineman, meter readers, custodians, clerical staff, and accounting workers.

“We give the test to anyone coming into SMECO from the outside,” she explains. “Because of the kind of turnover we’ve had and the amount of people applying for each job, we test up to 1,000 people each year.”

SMECO uses the test as a screening tool, whittling applicants down on the basis of score; they only hire those who pass the test. “The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test gives me peace of mind that we’re hiring qualified people who are able to do the job,” says Dudley.

“Applicants love the Wonderlic Basic Skills Test because they get the sense that we’re really considering them carefully if we think enough of them to give them the test,” she says. “They have the opportunity to take it and, if nothing else, that gives them experience for the next time. Once they pass it, they may be interviewed. The test is a step in the process for them, and if they get that far, they’re pleased.”

Now, every entry-level worker has the math and English skills to succeed at upper-level jobs, eliminating the problem of promoting people beyond their ability level. The Wonderlic Basic Skills Test also helps Dudley sift through the hundreds of people applying for each job, thereby making her job infinitely easier.