Ask successful small business owners what the hardest part of the job is, and no matter what industry they’re in, many of them will tell you the same thing — hiring and keeping good people is key to any business’ success, and it can be a challenge.
Here are some key considerations for hiring great talent, from searching for talent to managing and retaining your very own dream team of employees.
When To Hire
First off, don’t hire anyone unless you have the money to pay them. Whether it’s a steady revenue stream you’ve built over time or an infusion of cash from investors, make sure your business is financially ready before you add anyone new to the payroll. That goes for full-time employees with benefits, and part-time and contract workers, as well.
In addition to your financial strategy, you’ll also want to map out a talent strategy that aligns with your mission and overall business and growth goals. Having a written plan to refer back to whenever you’re considering adding new talent can help keep your long-term goals and strategy at the forefront of your thinking.
From there, here are three good signs that you’re ready to hire:
1. You’re Turning Down Opportunities
If you have to turn down work because you can’t fit another project into your schedule, it’s a good indicator that your business is ready for more help.
2. You Need Specialized Resources to Pursue a Revenue Stream
Diversifying your business can help you find new sources of revenue, but you might need some additional resources to take on those sources. Take finance for example: Spending too much time figuring out bookkeeping instead of growing your business? Hire an accountant or contract the work out to certified pros. Identify specialized needs, hire good people to handle them, and use the newly freed bandwidth to grow.
3. Customers Start Complaining
When customers complain about the timeliness or quality of your work, it may be a sign that you need some additional help. Spread yourself too thin, and your lack of preparedness will eventually show. That could cause damage to your business reputation that’s hard to undo. Whether you bring on someone with a skill set similar to your own, or an employee to help with administrative tasks, you’ll free up time to pour back into the quality of your own work.
How to Recruit the Best Talent
Once you’ve decided to hire, you’ve got to recruit. Digital transformation has made it easier for employers to find talent, but it’s also given that talent access to more opportunities than ever. From writing a job posting to interviewing finalists, make sure your recruiting game is on point to attract the most top candidates.
How to write an attractive job description
- Be clear about what the job entails, the position title, and when you want someone to start
- List out the skill set or experiences that you’re looking for
- Share the key opportunities and benefits candidates can expect upon joining your company
- Make sure to identify how and where candidates can apply for the position.
How to run your recruiting and hiring process
- Set a timeline based on when you want to fill the position
- Post your job description to major job boards and share on your social and professional networks
- Once the resumes start coming in, set aside time to review your candidate pipeline. Track which ones you’d like to take a phone screen with.
- Compile a list of questions to ask all candidates.
- Conduct a phone screen to gut check initial candidates. Advance finalists for in-person interviews.
- Conduct in-person interviews and follow up on questions you may not have had time to ask during phone screen. Pro-tip: Try to schedule all final interviews during the same week for comparisons’ sake.
- Hopefully you have a great candidate who you can present the offer to! Follow up with all candidates within two weeks, including those not receiving an offer.
Tips on Interviewing
Like everything else that goes into running a small business, interviewing candidates is a skill you’ll develop with repetition. As part of the Hiring Practices for Sales Teams module on Trailhead, we put together a unit specifically designed to help you ask the right questions during interviews (there’s also a great unit on screening candidates). Don’t worry if you’re not hiring for a sales team — the content that covers interview questions is pretty universal to all lines of work.
Start with these five questions to ask every candidate.
Five Things to Ask Every Candidate About:
- Describe your current role, and how you measure success. This gets at their current responsibilities and what metrics they’re using to evaluate success.
- Talk about your proudest accomplishment. Does it align with their responsibilities?
- How would you approach your current role differently, based on what you’ve learned and know now? Have they learned from experience? Do they exhibit self-awareness regarding how their colleagues see them?
- What do you like and not like about your current manager and leadership? Learning what the candidate appreciates can help you determine if there’s a fit with your leadership style and a culture fit with your team.
- Why are you leaving your current job? This should give more insight into what motivates a candidate and what they’re looking for in their next job.
From there, here are some broader tips to get you thinking more deeply about the kinds of candidates you’re looking to bring into the fold, as well as your own interview style and process.
- Look for candidates who exhibit a combination of professional competence and emotional intelligence (eg, “soft skills”).
- When you’re moving fast to grow your business, there’s always the potential for some failure. Ask your candidate to tell you about a time they failed at something. How they answer can give you a sense of how they approach risks and learn from mistakes.
- Talking through a candidate’s work history in chronological order is a great way to structure an interview. Iit will allow you to understand how that person’s career has evolved over time, including how they’ve responded to challenges and opportunities along the way.
- Learn how your candidate approaches customers, and connects with them to add value with every interaction … without turning them off? This is an essential skill for successful salespeople, but can say a lot about how candidates for any role think about your customers.
- Ask your candidate what skills they believe a salesperson needs to succeed at your company. This helps you not only understand how well they’ve researched your company, it gives you insight into what skills they value.
- Talk about coaching during the interview. Everyone needs coaching at some point, no matter how seasoned they may be. Ask your candidate to list any areas where they could use a little extra coaching. This gives you a sense of how much support they might need, and how self-aware they are.
People are the key to any great business. Finding the best talent starts with knowing when to hire, and is a process from there. Define your recruiting hiring and process, use the interview to get to know candidates, and look for the best fit for your particular needs.