How to Improve Your Hiring Process and Hire the Right People


One of the questions we get from entrepreneurs all the time is, “How do I find and keep great talent?” Despite the national unemployment rate hovering at 13%, it’s surprisingly difficult to find qualified people who are also a great match for your company. The hiring process can be daunting for a small business owner.

You’ve heard us harp on the importance of not going it alone and building your team and for good reason. Nothing can bring more growth and relief for your company or create more headaches and be a mega pain-in-the-ass than hiring.

Nail a great hire, and you’ve got someone who is an asset to your company, takes things off your plate, and helps you move the needle in the right direction. Get it wrong, and you’ve got a boatload of wasted time, energy, and sometimes a mess to clean up that costs. A bad hire has been estimated to cost a company 30% of that hire’s annual salary! Yikes.

Here are seven key tips to approach your hiring process from all angles so you can attract, hire, and keep the best of the best.

1. Think beyond the hiring boards. 

Experts estimate that 70-85% of job seekers land jobs by networking, so why should it be any different in reverse? Use real-life networking to your advantage in finding top talent for your business. Go beyond the usual job listing boards like Indeed and Monster, and post who you’re looking for on your personal and company social media pages. Reach out to your colleagues and customers via email or the phone—they may know just the person best for hiring!

Bonus: finding someone through a trusted source instead of the internet will bring added peace of mind to the costly investment you’re about to make. 

2. Craft your company culture through hiring. 

Hiring is a two-way street, so make sure the right people are attracted to YOU. If you want to attract top talent, take time to cultivate your company values and culture, and let it shine across all of your platforms. Highlight what makes working for your company so great on your website. Show your brand personality in your listing and let people know what they can look forward to when they come on board. Nothing beats the excitement two parties bring to the table when starting a new endeavor, and great company culture will only enhance that. 

3. “Tell ‘em what you want, what you really, really want.” 

In your posting, be sure to include what your dream candidate looks like (not literally, obviously—you aren’t an airline in the ’60s). What we mean is, take some time to outline what a perfect fit looks like and what a terrible fit looks like. If your company is a progressive, super casual, but hard-working bunch of misfits, a stodgy, corporate, stick-in-the-mud candidate is not gonna be a good fit no matter what their experience is.

Being upfront about that in your descriptions will go a long way towards avoiding the awkward “it’s not you, it’s me” bad-fit type situation down the road. The key takeaway? You’re going to be spending most of your waking hours with this person, so hiring someone you not only can stand, but actually enjoy being around!

4. Make a cover letter a must. 

A cover letter is a great filter. By requiring one, you’re going to easily weed out: a) people who can’t follow directions (by not including one), b) people who are uninspired (think: To Whom It May Concern greetings); neither of which you want to work for you. A great cover letter speaks to the Why of why they want the job, and the resume highlights that they have the experience to follow through. 

5. Do a skills soft test. 

In addition to coming up with some “What would you do if…” scenario questions that will showcase adaptability and resiliency, put together a skills test to see their critical thinking in action. This applies to every business, whether you’re in accounting, landscaping, or interior design. One employer we know had a candidate re-work a client homepage to test their copywriting chops. Another gave a mini-assignment for a marketing candidate to find their top competitor and report back what they’re doing and bullets on how their company could do it better. Anything that’s going to answer “What would you do here?” and speaks to their ability to perform is a smart move. 

6. Consider character when hiring. 

Don’t buy into the idea that talent and charm trumps character. They can have all the talent in the world, but if they don’t have an interior makeup based on integrity and character, you’re going to hit roadblock after roadblock with that hire. Delve into the candidate’s character. What are their values? Do they match your own? Spend the extra ten or fifteen minutes and call up their former employers for an unbiased view of who you’re about to invest time and money in. Good character will bring more return for your money than talent alone.

7. Don’t be a Taker. 

This last one’s on you. Are you paying fairly, setting reasonable expectations, treating your employees as equals, giving opportunities to advance/grow, and incentives to stay? No healthy relationship is a one-way street. To keep talent invested in your company, they have got to feel valued and respected. Now, before you turn your pockets inside out and give the “But we’re a startup…” intro, this can be communicated in many ways, not just monetarily. Compensation but from recognition, appreciation, etc. Gratitude doesn’t cost a damn thing (and snacks aren’t so costly either—just sayin’).

If you think outside of the box and scratch below the surface when searching for people during the hiring process, you are well on your way to building a badass team that not only works but wins! 

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