If your business is considering year-end hiring strategies before November hits and the holiday comas begin to slow the pace of business as usual, you’re not alone. An ADP study found that small businesses with less than 50 employees added 81,000 jobs in September, while midsize businesses with between 50 and 499 employees added 64,000 jobs.
That’s good news for small business, but how do you know you’re getting the right people for the job? The hiring process is time-consuming and expensive enough, and when it doesn’t work out, those numbers only go up. In fact, some experts estimate the costs of filling a position can range from 8 percent to 20 percent of the position's annual salary for the first year – and that’s not chump change.
Startup hiring wisdom
A recent Entrepreneur.com article about hiring the right employees for startups offered great advice that could apply to any small business. As any entrepreneur can attest, starting a business is a costly, stressful and exhilarating proposition that often involves late nights, brainstorming and not doing much else until the business is up and running and meeting defined goals.
In that scenario, the right personalities are key – while the wrong ones can be an unmitigated and pricey train wreck. Follow these hiring tips to make sure your next hire is a good one.
Look for skills first. Avoid the temptation to hire the great personality who’s also a quick study. If the skills aren’t there to begin with so your new hire can hit the ground running, it could be a decision you regret later as a business owner. Most small businesses don’t have the outlay of cash for major training resources – and owners can’t afford mistakes. Hire the skills first, and avoid problems later.
Make sure the skills are relevant to your business. This might sound like a no-brainer, but work experience isn’t always about how many years the person has doing a certain thing. If, for example, you’re hiring a technology writer, that person doesn’t need an engineering degree. Rather, the person simply needs to know how to write well about technology – and about your business.
Look for an aggressive, competitive nature. There’s no time for wallflowers need in a fast-moving business environment, so look for those aggressive personalities with a competitive drive to succeed. These are the kind of people who thrive on crazy deadlines and competitive challenges under pressure. Ask your potential hire about their thoughts on working in a pressure-cooker environment – and hire the ones whose eyes light up.
Flexibility is critical. Small businesses need employees who can quickly shift with a businesses’ changing priorities – whether that means your new hire is in charge of sales and business development one month and marketing the next. Ask how comfortable they are with change at the drop of a hat. You don’t want those employees who are loathe to break out of a mold every once in a while.
Try before you buy. Considering an employee but not sure if you want to make the commitment yet? Think about hiring the person on a project basis as a contractor. It’s a great way for both of you to test the waters to see whether the fit is good for the long-term.