Hiring the right people for your small business isn't a nice little perk. It's an essential part of your business, since your employees are the heart and soul of your business. They're your biggest brand advocates and will be responsible for the successful growth of your business. Furthermore, if you can retain great employees, you'll save a ton of time and money, since you won't have to be concerned with a high turnover.

After having successfully launched several companies during my career, here are the 10 things that I look for in a new hire.

1. Shares my passion.

This is one of the most important qualities that I look for in a new hire. While this doesn't always mean that they are the biggest fans of my work or services, they at least need to be enthusiastic and share my vision for where the business is headed.

This is something that even iconic entrepreneurs like Richard Branson look for. Branson has stated that "the key to finding the right people to hire is to look for those who are energized by your passion, want to add to your ideas, and aren't afraid to suggest ways to improve them."

2. Is on the quirky side.

I am not looking for a yes man or woman. I want someone who is going to think outside of the box and push boundaries. When a new hire walks through the door or contacts me and seems a bit on the quirky side, it's a sign that this could be someone who is going to bring a lot of creative and unique ideas to my business.

3. Is committed to my company.

I don't want to have a high turnover rate with employees. I want people who want to become a part of my team for the long haul. Not someone just bouncing from job to job until they find something better. That's why I pay close attention to an applicant's previous job history. If there's a pattern of constantly moving from job to job, that may be someone who isn't committed to my company.

4. Is ambitious.

What business owner wouldn't want an employee who is going to go above and beyond for the company? Ambitious people aren't just hard workers; they're motivated and driven to make the business run more efficiently and constantly looking for ways to make it stronger. They're also resilient and will find ways to overcome challenges.

It may be difficult to spot ambition in an applicant, but as Kristi Hedges points out in Forbes, you can look at:

5. Has previous experience.

This is a given, especially when I'm looking for someone with a specific set of skills, such as a graphic designer or computer programmer. I want to be 100 percent certain that they can handle the tasks that I assign them.

That's not to say that someone with limited work experience, such as a recent grad, isn't qualified to work for my company. In that case, I would find out if they had any internships that have given them at least some sort of real-world experience.

6. Is eager to learn.

Lifelong learners can be valuable to a business since they're constantly learning new skills and traits that they can bring to the table. Besides that, lifelong learners are great at time management, prioritizing tasks, and problem solving.

You can spot a lifelong learner by going over their resume. How many degrees does he have? Has he continued his education and earned a certification? Or, you can just ask the applicant if he keeps up with current events, is a voracious reader, or has taken any sort of class that enhances his life either personally or professionally? I find that the best hires are ones with unicorn mentalities.

7. Isn't concerned with job descriptions.

I'll keep this short and sweet. You're paying an employee to work. Not to hold a position. Let's say that you hire a social media manager and that's all she's concerned with and is not willing to lend a helping hand like writing a blog post at crunchtime, then that's someone that I don't want on my team.

8. Has strong character.

Is this someone you can trust? Is she honest, responsible, and has integrity? Does he work well with others? These are all signs that the applicant has a strong character. And that's definitely someone I want on my team.

In fact, psychologists have found that intelligence, drive, sociability, capacity for intimacy, happiness, and goodness are all clues into whether or not someone has a strong character. Pay extra close attention to these clues, such as humor and abstract thinking, during the hiring process.

9. Has knowledge about me and my company.

For me, there's no excuse for a new hire to know a little information about me or my company. We live in a world where that information can readily be discovered thanks to social media, company blogs, Wikipedia, and databases like CrunchBase. I expect all applicants to do their do diligence and a little digging. It may sound creepy. But, maybe we have a mutual connection. Perhaps they noticed that my blog has a theme that isn't mobile friendly. This is information that I want to know.

10. Is likeable.

When I bring in a new hire, I ask myself one final question, "Is this someone I like?" We're going to be spending a lot of time together and if personalities don't mesh and we're constantly at odds, do you think they we'll be productive and efficient?

That doesn't mean that I want a clone. It means that this is someone that I actually like and look forward to collaborating with on a daily basis. Even if he isn't the most talented at his position, I would sacrifice that for a more pleasant and productive work environment.

Published on: Dec 30, 2015
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