You’re a small business (or even maybe a medium or large business), and you want to hire staff. You have limited resources, and you don’t want to use them take on someone who is anything less than great, so how do you hire great employees? Where do you find them?
To put this simply, there aren’t really any go-to places for hiring great employees. If there were, everyone would just be going there, rather than hiring through conventional methods. No matter where it is that you go to hire employees, there will always be some kind of filtering process required for separating the great candidates from the good and the average candidates. Of course, certain places may be better suited for finding candidates for certain industries.
As an example, about a year and a half ago, I was contacted by The Lad Bible, for those of you who don’t know, The Lad Bible are a big media company, with tens of millions of followers across their different social media platforms. They contacted my through my Twitter, because they knew I had a large following and as such thought I would be better suited for a role there than most people. I think that they do the most of their hiring via Twitter, usually people with large social media followings of their own, because it’s more likely to result in them hiring people who will understand and be good at the job. So there’s an example of one way you can get creative when finding great people for your industry.
Social media is a great way of finding potential employees, especially LinkedIn. But I wouldn’t say it’s a way of finding great employees, people can fool you on their social media just as well as they may be able to fool you in a normal application process. Although, I would say LinkedIn is probably the best social media site for this, as you can see people’s endorsements, and it’s much easier to contact people such as previous employers and get their opinion on someone, whereas with Facebook or Twitter this is probably going to be more difficult.
Another great way of finding potential employees is to outsource. You can still interview and get a feel for whether or not a candidate is suited to the culture your company has or that you’re trying to create, but it’s very easier to let someone go or find someone else if they don’t turn out to be suitable (and it’s probably going to be a lot cheaper too). You can also look at past testimonials and work to help you decide.
One of the best ways to find great employees is through people you already know and trust. Maybe you know someone who would be great but they aren’t interested in working for you? Or maybe you already have some great employees? Birds of a feather flock together, if you know someone who is or would be an awesome employee, then the chances are that they know some people who would be awesome employees too. It’s also likely the people they know would fit into the culture in your business. Although a word of warning; don’t just rely on a person’s recommendation, you should still check them out and make sure that they’re the right fit yourself.
My final recommended place for finding employees is anywhere and everywhere. Every now and again you’ll be out having dinner or doing something else, and you’ll be served or dealt with by someone who is just awesome. It’s hard to define exactly what I mean by awesome, but I basically mean someone who goes above and beyond, someone who is a pleasure to deal with, makes you feel better, and is far, far better than most people that you usually have to deal with.
You’ll know them when you come across them. Why not see if they’re looking for a job? If you’re looking for a great salesperson and you come across a great waitress, why not see if she’d like to have an interview? You can always train people later, if they have a great attitude, as long as you’re not looking for a rocket scientist or something really technical, then they’ll bring that great attitude with them and be great at pretty much any role.
Now you know some good places to go and look for great employees, how do you actually find them? The reality is that whilst some places may be better than others for finding employees, there’s always going to be a lot of sorting required. The cream doesn’t always rise to the top and lots of people hire people thinking they’re great only to find that they actually just fooled them in the interview, and are average at best.
A lot of people hire fast and fire slow, especially if their business is expanding. Employers can sometimes take the attitude that they need to keep up with demand, and just need someone for the role. This is the last thing you should do. It’s better to bring in no one whilst you wait for the right candidate than bring in someone mediocre who doesn’t fit your culture, and who is either a time bomb waiting to go off or who is just lazy. Having to turn down a few orders whilst you wait to find the right person is much better than having someone who damages your reputation. If an employee isn’t contributing to and enhancing your culture then they’re damaging it.
You should hire slow and fire fast, don’t hire someone until you’re certain they’re a great fit for you. If you do make a mistake and hire someone who later turns out to be unsuitable, and you occasionally will, then you need to fire them fast. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be and the more damage they will do. There’s no point trying to change someone’s attitude, the vast majority of the time you simply won’t be able to and in the small minority of cases where you are, you could have just brought someone else in much sooner. Also, don’t misinterpret this, if someone doesn’t have the skills and it’s taking some time to train them that’s fine, as long as their attitude is there, but if they have the skills and not the attitude then get rid of them as quickly as possible.
This brings me nicely onto my next point. Most businesses hire on skill set and then fire on attitude; you should be doing the opposite. Hire on attitude and fire on skill set. It’s much easier to train someone when it comes to skills than to change a person’s attitude. You should centre your hiring process around determining someone’s attitude, not whether they have the required skills, if they have both, then great. If not, make sure they’re messing the skills and not the attitude.
It’s also worth noting, if you place and advert for a job, make sure the advert is very clear. Be abundantly clear what you’re looking for, and what you expect. Even if you think that this might put some people off, they’ll only be people who weren’t right for you anyway, so don’t worry about that. If you expect excellence, say it, if you want people who are nice to co-workers say it. Don’t just list what skills you’re looking for, what type of person are you looking for? Describe the person who perfectly fits the culture of your business. Let the non-suitable candidates filter themselves out; it saves you the trouble of having to do it later.
When it comes to making sure potential employees are what they say they are, and that they are as capable as they claim (or as capable as is necessary), there are a couple of good ways of doing this. Firstly, check references, and don’t just do it in your own time, do it in the interview. Ask them in the interview if you can ring the person given and do it in front of them. This will weed out anyone with fake references.
Secondly, don’t just hire someone based on an interview. Why not bring them in for half a day, a day, or even two days? See how well they do the job, how quickly. Find out how well they get on with everyone and how well they fit in with the culture, and don’t forget to ask for the opinions of the people they are with for that time. If you’re not supervising them for the whole time they might let their guard down at some point, one of your employees might have picked up on something, but won’t tell you unless you ask.
Another good little tactic is to make sure they spend some time with people who would be below them in the organisation if they got the job (especially if you’re hiring for a management job). You can tell a lot about a person by how they treat the people below them, anyone will probably make an effort to be nice to the people above them. If they deal with a secretary at some point in the day, find out what the secretary thought of them too.
Your hiring process needs to be based around finding people who fit your culture, not people who have the skills required. If you don’t deal with the hiring yourself, make sure whoever does understands this, have some sort of system in place for making sure that you’re making the best decisions possible. You’re still going to make mistakes, there will always be some people who can fool you and who aren’t genuine, but if you’re able to eliminate 99.99% if these people, and then fire the ones who slip through the net fast, it shouldn’t be a problem for you.
So in conclusion, some good places for finding employees include:
- Social media – especially LinkedIn
- Through outsourcing
- Recommendations of people you know and trust
- Anywhere and everywhere
To make the best decisions possible when it comes to hiring:
- Hire slow and fire fast
- Hire on attitude and fire on skill set
- Have a clear job description
- Check references in interviews
- Bring them into the business for a short period of time before hiring
- See how they treat people below them
If you have any thoughts on this, or any ideas I didn’t think of, feel free to post a comment. If you’ve enjoyed reading this article or know someone who might benefit from reading it, then feel free to share this.