Hiring a new person for a start-up or small business is a significant decision. There is always that struggle you have with yourself about whether it’s wise to hire to grow or bring in more revenue then hire. Well, it depends on the role. Sales people (a strong sales person) will pay for themselves, but what about other team members who will not make obvious bottom line impact in the short term, but in the long term, their role supports the revenue growth? Often we know in general terms what is required, but the more you think about it, the longer your wish list becomes, and next thing you know, you’re looking for a unicorn that speaks Latin and has experience being PA to Jesus. Or you go without for so long that your existing team members are exhausted beyond speech and don’t know what the direction is anymore.
To clarify your need and establish how urgent or essential the position is, ask yourself these 5 questions.
- What are my business goals for the next 12 months and where are the skills gaps in my team at the moment that are slowing down the path to achievement of these goals?When you’re a small business or lean start-up with limited resources, you want to know why you’re hiring. If you only need certain skills in a particular area for a short time to take the pressure of the rest of the staff, look into getting a freelancer or temp. But still clearly define what you want this person to achieve and make sure it relates back to your business goals. It will help you find and select the person with the right skills and values for your business.
- What are the main skills and past achievements someone needs to demonstrate in order to show that they have what it takes to help the business cover the skills gap and reach its 12 month goals?
This further defines the hard skills and demonstrated knowledge/skills/experience. Make an essential list vs a wish list. If you engage an external party, be armed with this. A wishy washy brief gets you the same quality short list. When you are clear on the top 3-5 must have skills and how they have been applied in previous achievements, the right person will stand out when you have a conversation with them.
- Is the role sustainable for 12 months plus (is it something you need sometimes or do you need someone some times but over a period of time?) On a few occasions I’ve gone all in for a client, looking for a permanent staff member. Only to have them come back after interviewing the shortlist and realizing perhaps they only need someone part time or for the duration of a particular project. Please assess this and be realistic before you start the recruitment process.I like to discuss this before starting recruitment projects. It affects the way I market the position as different employment structures attract a different audience in a particular area of expertise. If my clients are upfront, I can help them find a solution, but if they don’t know what they need, we’re just bumping into each other.
- Is there someone in the organization I can promote into the role (and wants it) and back fill his or her position instead?
Don’t overlook your existing staff and their latent skills. It’s easier to back fill a junior role than it is to fill a role, have a newbie on the team and a junior who feels under valued, then lose them too. Give people a sense of achievement if they have put in the work and the job is aligned with their career goals. Of course discuss expectations and outcomes clearly to ensure that they are comfortable with the promotion or new role.
- What is my hiring budget? A tough but necessary question. We all wish we can meet the perfect candidate and pay them what they want in order to secure them. But let’s be real here, for most positions, small businesses need to be clear with budget at least for the short term. If a role generates revenue, you’re ok. If it is a support role, how will it free up time for the revenue generators to grow the business and increase revenue? As crude as it sounds, even if your company has the best people culture, there has to be a return on every employee. If you want to see if your business is ready for a support staff member or not, try it with a freelancer or temp and see if it improves operation efficiency and the bottom line over a quarter. Set a budget for it and know what the market is paying for any role you’re hiring for.
Remember that when you engage in recruitment activities, you put time into the process, perhaps some of your team too or a recruiter helping you. Then there are the candidates putting in their time, respect their time. It tarnishes your brand as an employer when you waste candidates’ time by not knowing what you need. My pet hate is business owners and managers who have the mentality of “we have the probation period to figure it out”. Just don’t. It is such a turn off and shows how little you care about people.
Unclear salary expectations can also unravel hard work so be very clear on this from the beginning and consider the data that the market returns when you screen. Adjust if you need to. Look at alternative options to make it work within your means.
These are basic questions that will help you form a brief for yourself and for anyone helping you.