Nothing is more important--and less predictable--than recruiting. Here's ways to get better at it.
Hiring is the Achilles heel of all small companies, including mine. Good candidates are hard to find, and the recruiting process always seems to take more time than I plan for.
That said, over the last eight years, I've learned some tricks to reduce both the cost and time it takes to continue building my team as Metal Mafia grows.
Here's what they are:
1. Allow six months for the recruitment process. Hiring when you have a start date in mind that is just around the corner causes you to accept candidates you would have otherwise passed over. Give yourself three months to search for and screen applicants, one month so a new hire can give notice to her current employer, and at least two months to train a new person.
2. Write a job post that accurately describes your company. Believe it or not, you don't want to emphasize the qualities you need in a candidate in a job description. You want to tell a prospective candidate about what makes your company a different or special place to work, to insure you get interest from people who are the right cultural fit. It's far less expensive to teach skills than attitude to a new recruit.
3. Make the interview process several steps. Candidates who want any job--and not necessarily the job you are hiring for--rarely take the time to apply if they know they have to go above and beyond a one-click submisssion just to get looked at.
4. Handle at least one part of the recruiting process yourself. Whether it be screening resumes, doing phone interviews, or conducting the first interview. The earlier you get involved in the recruiting the better the chances you have of finding the right candidate (and weeding out the others!). No one knows your company's needs better than you.
5. Identify the five most important qualities for the positiong you're filling. Create interview questions that measure these five qualities to allow you to determine if a candidate possesses them or not.
6. Do more than ask questions when you interview. Set up opportunities to observe how an applicant handles herself in situations similar to the ones she will be asked to handle if she's hired. For example, if she will be organizing data for your company, give her data to classify, and pay attention to the way she does it. Does her approach match how you do things at your company? Does she follow a logic you can understand?
7. Bring others in on your recruiting process. Make sure strong candidates are evaluated by at least two members of your team in addition to you. Instincts are important in picking the right candidate, but sometimes you end up on the fence. Having someone to talk about the candidate with can help you get clarity when it matters.
8. Create a training program. Make sure your training program truly reflects the tasks a hire will be called upon to do. And then formalize it so the new hire can understand where she is at in the training process at all times.
9. Reevaluate both what you teach a new hire and what he retains on a regular basis. Never be afraid to slow down the training process, teach a concept again, shift gears, or add new modules as you go. The idea is not to train fast, but to train right. Taking the time to do it once and thoroughly will shield your customers from errors, and your company from lost loyalty.
10. Be honest with yourself throughout the training process. If you make a hiring mistake, don't waste precious time and money hoping it will eventually turn out okay. It won't. Let the candidate go immediately. It is better to have no help at all than to have the wrong help.
Recruiting the right team can seem daunting, but it is also extremely exciting. Taking the time to make the best hire rather than just any hire is a chance to expand your team's competencies, grow your customer base, and take your company to a new level. Hopefully my 10 tricks will help you.
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Vanessa Merit Nornberg: In 2004, Vanessa opened Metal Mafia, a wholesale body and costume jewelry company that sells to more than 5,000 specialty shops and retail chains in 23 countries. Metal Mafia was an Inc. 500 company in 2009. @vanessanornberg