by Guest Author on October 17, 2012
There is no doubt about it: The people are what make the company, and if you’re just starting out, your first hires are your most critical. One wrong turn, one bad hire, and you could wind up in worse shape than when you were working out of your garage. To avoid that, keep these tips in mind.
Always Be Looking for Talent
When I was applying for jobs, I used to hate the response “We’re not hiring, but we’re always accepting applications.” Now that I’m on the other side, I realize how critical that actually is. You never know when you’re going to stumble upon a gem, and the last thing you want is to dismiss them because you’re not officially hiring.
Part of my job is networking. I go to a lot of different conferences or events to do just that. Whenever I’m there, I’m constantly looking for fresh talent. I may not be able to hire them immediately, but if I find someone smart who can do a stellar job, it allows me to broach the subject and let them know I’m interested.
Look for Culture Fit Over Exact Skill Matches
When you’re just starting out, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to find someone who matches up perfectly with the skill set you’re looking for — for the price you can afford.
You can train anyone to do (basically) anything. You can’t train someone to be a hard worker, to be a team player, and to have a good work ethic. I put a heavy focus on finding people who would work well with our culture. We’re casual, with 3pm HORSE basketball games, happy hours and the occasional Nerf gun wars. I look for people who would promote that, not be distant from it.
Ask the Right Interview Questions
Everyone knows the expected interview questions: Why do you want to work here? Where do you see yourself in five years? They’re good but don’t really tell you anything. I love asking off-the-ball questions to get candidates really thinking like:
- If you were a Microsoft Office Product, which one would you be?
- Answer this riddle for me: A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
- Tell me a story.
These questions will show me that the person can actually think, not just recite some answer they read online.
On the same vein, take note of the questions they ask you. For example, if the first thing that people ask me is about their title, their advancement opportunities or PTO and benefits, it tells me they’re more concerned about their ego than their company.
Trust a Staffing Agency
Staffing agencies aren’t just for the Fortune 500 companies. Yes, the cost associated will cause some sticker shock, but think in the long term: Hiring the wrong employee can cost as much as 2.5 times the person’s salary. Plus, staffing agencies allow you to free up your time and vet out the qualified people, especially if you’re hiring a position you’re not familiar with.
For example, as an entrepreneur, you’re probably business savvy but fall short in technical or accounting skills. Vetting out qualified candidates to fill those positions would be difficult. You can easily tell if they’re a good interviewer, but what about their know-how. I recommend Kforce to help sorting through these people for you. They’ll also help find candidates that could work remotely if you can’t find the right talent in your location.
Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help
You know how a motorcycle driver will wave to another motorcycle driver they pass on the road? It’s like they’re instantly connected to that person just because of what they’re driving. Entrepreneurs have that same mentality. You’re a member of the club: Take advantage of it.
While I wasn’t starting a company, I was starting a new division and found tons of help through talking with other entrepreneurs in similar positions. I connected with people in Inc.com and got involved with different events. Vistage and BNI are both great networking organizations to join to get advice from others who’ve been in the same position.
About the Author
Erin Everhart is the director of marketing at 352 Media Group. She started the web development company’s digital marketing division two years ago and is constantly looking for new ways to hire the right type of people. Follow her on Twitter: @erinever