When starting out in business, one of the scariest tasks for entrepreneurs and business owners is the responsibility of hiring staff: bringing in people who will support you and help your business to grow and flourish.
If you’ve never had experience of this, it can seem like a mammoth task you might shy away from, because it feels uncomfortable.
But rest assured, once you’ve have followed the guidance I’ll be sharing, and popped your hiring cherry, you’ll be thinking “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Having hired and fired countless employees over the course of my entrepreneurial career, my journey has provided me with a wealth of experience.
This now enables me to instinctively know whether someone is a correct fit for me and any of my companies – within the first 60 seconds.
When you are intending to build a successful business, probably the most important factor is hiring the right people. Get this right, and the rest becomes a lot easier. Get this wrong, and it could result in a lifetime of heartache and stress.
With nearly 30 staff required in my main business, to alleviate the burden from my shoulders, it was important for me to teach my senior managers the art of recruitment.
Since my business operates in an industry with a notoriously high staff turnover, it’s vital that all my senior managers know exactly how to hire the best staff to add huge value and contribute to the success of the business.
Irrespective of what’s happening in your industry, if you hire the right staff, you will ensure that, once they’re on board, they will be with you for the long term.
In order to help you during your recruitment process, I am sharing 6 top tips for hiring new employees, so you know exactly what to look out for, what to avoid, and what you need to do to build a winning team.
1. Create an avatar of your perfect employee
Getting clear on what your perfect employee looks like will help you to easily identify the correct candidate when you see them. Right away, you will know that’s your person!
What skills do they have?
What personality traits must they hold?
What experience have they had? And in what fields?
Developing the avatar will also help you to design the perfect job advertisement to entice the right employee.
It pushes you to get clear on the characteristics of your ideal candidate, so you can create your job ad to specifically target that person.
It’s more than a job spec. or a list of essential / desirable criteria. It goes beyond the paper applications you’ll select from.
With an avatar in mind, you are already picturing the whole person in their full human form, so you’ll recognise them when they walk in for interview.
Starting from your avatar, you can build your selection process, and the final stage – the interview – should just confirm your expectations.
Here are a few links to articles that will help guide you through the process of crafting the perfect employee avatar.
2. Create an engaging job advertisement
Communicate what the role consists of – but do it in a way that excites the reader.
No longer is it enough to create a standard template ad that simply communicates the job title, job responsibilities and potential salary.
You have to create a compelling job ad that sparks excitement and intrigue in the minds of those who read it.
Be imaginative, creative and bold!
How can you make a prospective employee click on your advertisement, over another?
How can you pitch the role you’re advertising in a way that will appeal to your perfect employee?
How can you add excitement, and reframe the most boring of tasks?
These are some of the questions you need to begin asking yourself before you begin drafting your job advertisement.
Take a look at some of the examples I share below and see how they compare to your idea of what a job advertisement should look like.
3. Always, always, always hire in accordance with your company values!
Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of hiring on skills alone.
Obviously, having the skills to meet the requirements of the role is important; but if the employee you’re hiring doesn’t display the correct values aligned to those of your company, it can result in serious implications, both for your company culture and the longevity of their employment.
When hiring any employee, my primary focus is values first, skillset second. Skills can be learnt quickly. Changing someone’s values system is much harder and not really what you are here to do.
Once you build a team with people who share your values, it makes running a business easy.
If you get it wrong, dealing with staff-related issues can consume you, spending wasted hours on issues that would not exist if you had hired correctly in the first place.
So, always think ‘values first, skillset second’.
A great example of how powerful this ethos can be is the book “Delivering Happiness,” which I shared in my recent article 10 Books for Success in Business. I recommend that all businesses owners and entrepreneurs read this when growing their business, because it will show you just what can be created when there is alignment between company culture and employee.
4. Sell the Vision
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that an interview is solely for your benefit in assessing the suitability of a candidate.
If you hadn’t noticed, the world is changing at a rapid rate – as are the wants and needs of employees.
For many people, it’s no longer enough to trade time for money and pick up a pay cheque at the end of the month. People now want to contribute to something bigger than themselves.
They want to know that their efforts are having a greater impact than just lining the pockets of the company’s shareholders. They want to be part of something; to belong to an organisation that is heading somewhere, with clear direction.
Get clear on your company vision and future plans. Show them that you have a compelling aspiration for your business that will create opportunities for them to grow within your organisation.
Good candidates generally want to develop and stretch themselves – so you must be able to sell your vision and show benefits for them.
5. Hire Slow – Fire Fast
You may have heard this term before, but it’s essential that you fully take it on board.
Never hire out of desperation or fear! Doing so often causes twice as many issues as you had prior to filling the position.
Not taking your time with the recruitment process can lead you back to the very same space a few months later; so, never rush selection!
On the flip side, never delay the inevitable.
If you recently hired someone, and they are already showing signs of lateness, unreliability or just bad traits – cut them loose as soon as you can.
There is a saying: “When someone shows themselves, believe them!” Having a bad apple in your team can negatively affect the rest of your squad.
You have a duty of care to them and your business.
Also, whenever someone hands in their resignation, or has given their notice, don’t keep them in your business unless you seriously have to.
In my experience, when someone knows they’re leaving, this period of limbo can be very unproductive and unsettling for the team.
Make the transition quick, and limit the disruption that long notice periods might cause. Offer them gardening leave or ask them to work out the remainder of their notice period from home.
6. Never outsource recruitment
If you have no experience of holding interviews and recruiting staff, the process can seem very daunting. In the beginning, I used to dread this process, especially when it came to senior management staff – I felt that I was under the spotlight and they were judging me as much as I was judging them.
However, despite my fears of interviewing, I sucked it up and pushed myself to do it.
It would have been easy to outsource the recruitment to a third-party consultant or company, but if I had done that, I would have never gained the essential experience that enables me to identify who to bring into my company to complement my teams.
Generally, recruitment consultants hire based upon experience and skillset, and do not factor in whether or not the candidate will be the right fit in your team.
How could they? They don’t know your business – or the people involved in it.
Only you – or individuals who truly understand your values and culture – are able to identify this.
When you are starting out, it’s crucial that you take on this responsibility, even if it means you making the mistakes of hiring the wrong people.
It’s important to make mistakes, to appreciate the contrast – sometimes you have to experience what you don’t want, in order to identify what you do want.
It’s best to learn these lessons earlier in your journey, when the potential for damage is a lot lower!
An ability to identify the character traits that won’t serve your business is just as crucial as knowing what will serve you well.
Those are my six sure-fire recruitment tips, gleaned from my practical experience – so you get to learn from my mistakes!
In brief: clarify what/who you need and personify your perfect employee in avatar form; create an irresistible job advert; put shared values first; inspire with a compelling vision; take your time in recruiting (but fire fast) – and ensure that your recruitment panel involves you and/or trusted managers within your company. These are my learnings, for you to put into practice yourself.
Follow these tried and trusted methods, and for one thing, you’ll make much better recruitment decisions than I did, initially! Moreover, through recruiting the right people and employing a loyal and motivated team who are fully aligned with your values, vision and purpose, you’ll lead your business to effective growth and success.