Small Business Hiring

Now Hiring Sign 500x500If you’re a one-person business, or a two-person partnership, and you’re successful, then you’re probably going to want and/or need to hire people at some point.

This is a big problem for a lot of small companies, even if they themselves don’t recognize it as a problem. Many new small business owners have never hired anyone, ever. And many more small business owners have interviewed and hired people before, but only within the existing infrastructure of a larger company, where they had help placing the ad for the position, help during the interviewing process, and probably even help from an HR resource in terms of regulatory compliance, employee policies, etc.

Here are some tips to help the novice small business owner:

  1. Figure out what you need – it’s amazing how many small business owners never do this. Instead, they hire someone and assume that the person they hire will just do everything that isn’t currently being done, or, that the person will do whatever it is the owners do, and need help with. That could be anything from sales to making coffee to doing accounts payable out of Quickbooks. Furthermore, many small business owners assume that the person they hire will just “figure out” what needs to be done. I mean, it’s obvious what needs to be done, right? No, it isn’t, not to someone new to the company. Define what needs to be done, and what skills the job candidate needs in order to be successful in the position.
  2. Think about filling the job through a temp agency or an outside vendor – it might be quicker, cost less money, and someone with a good set of existing skills will show up at your door, ready to hit the ground running. And you can go to school on that person, and use the experience to fine-tune what you need and want when you decide to hire a person for that position in the future.
  3. Hone your interview skills – Whatever you do, don’t fall into the automaton script of interviewers from decades past, Questions like:
    • Where do you see yourself in five years?
    • What is your greatest weakness?
    • Why should I hire you as opposed to someone else?

Yes, you know the drill. You’ve probably been asked those stupid questions in an interview. Those questions stopped working for large companies some time ago, and they never did work very well for small companies. There are better questions, and this would be a great time to use the internet to find some great questions, but here is one great question on the house: “What happened the last time your boss, a co-worker or a client got angry with you? How did you resolve it?” The answer to that question will tell you a great deal about the candidate’s preferred work style and their personality.

4. Always be hiring – even when you don’t need someone, you should stop never putting feelers out. Your right-hand man could decide to quit and write that screenplay he always wanted to knock out, or some other company could poach your head of sales, and she quits with 3 days’ notice, because she has to move to Chicago next week so she can start work at her new job the week after.

5. Pay competitively – you don’t need to offer the best compensation and benefits in your area, but you should try to at least maintain parity. If your pay and benefits are the worst, you won’t get very many people that stick around after the first interview, and the ones that do stick around are going to be the worst candidates available for the job in your local labor market. Adverse selection is an awful strategy for hiring people. Not to mention all the time wasted by you in doing first interviews that go nowhere after the candidates you actually want find out what you pay. You’ll never get that time back, and I bet you could have done something more productive with it.

Those are your Top 5 tips for hiring as a small business owner. Go forth now, and hire someone!

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