EMPLOYEES & HUMAN RESOURCES • December 17, 2014
3 minutes Read
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
Hiring people is not easy. I’ve learned that, no matter how much work you put into it, no matter how many interviews you conduct, no matter how many books you read about the process, in the end it’s still just a leap of faith. You can minimize the risks and try to weed out as many inferior candidates as possible. But, whether you’re the human resources director at a Fortune 500 company or a small business owner, you never really know for sure if this person is going to be the right hire or not.
That said, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of finding the right person for the job. Things that I’ve learned from clients who have done this successfully. For example:
1. Get recommendations from employees and friends. Sites like Monster, Craigslist, CareerBuilder and ZapRecruiter are excellent places to find good people. Advertising in the newspaper is also still a good route. All of these are popular options, particularly when there’s no other option. But, in my experience, the best place to find someone is through a referral from a friend or, better yet, an employee. These are the people you know and trust. And, more importantly, these are the people who know you, your company and your other employees. When a friend or employee recommends someone, they’re also risking their own reputation so now both of you have skin in the game. It usually makes for a better match.
2. Read the cover letter and resume. Many people I know skip the cover letter and go right to the resume. I’ve found that both documents are equally important. Sometimes there’s information in the cover letter that’s left out of the resume. A cover letter gives a little more personality, a little more insight into the candidate. Also, a cover letter (and the resume) can reveal things like spelling mistakes, poor grammar or less than acceptable communication skills which are extremely important for most jobs. Treat both documents equally.
3. Have at least two people interview, three is best. Don’t interview someone in a vacuum. Get others in your company involved. Everyone needs a little training (try a labor attorney or go to a course) on interview techniques and the questions to avoid. You are not only looking for someone experienced but someone who will fit in with the culture of your company, so don’t be shy about asking someone unrelated to the candidate’s work area to perform an interview. Consider having an outside advisor (your company’s CPA or attorney) conduct one of the interviews. Getting insight from others, particularly those that have no personal agenda, will help you round out your opinion of the candidate.
4. Have a few criteria and stick to them. You are not going to find Superman. You are not going to hire the perfect candidate. Everyone has their faults. Your job is to find someone that will do a good job for the job you’re asking. So when you go into the process, have a short list of 3-4 “musts” – a certain degree, a specific answer to a question, a certain type of experience, a willingness to do certain tasks. Use that criteria as your means for disqualifying candidates. Try to keep that list short. But stick to it.
5. In the end, trust your gut. Hiring the right person is, as noted above, a gut call. The person with the most experience or degrees may not be the right one. You’re looking for someone who is reliable, trustworthy, smart and hard-working. He or she doesn’t have to be an expert. If the person has these capabilities, then he or she can be taught to do just about anything. You’re going to have to look that person in the eye and feel comfortable that he or she will do what they say they’re going to do, on time and with a good attitude. This is not something that a book, a quiz or an aptitude test will reveal. This will be your gut. And some people are just better at judging others. So be true to yourself. Those are the ones who, in the end, select the best people to work for them.
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