Your employees are your company’s biggest asset. They represent you, your product, your brand, your vision — not to mention, they do the work that ensures your business’s success. Making the right hiring decisions is really important. Here are five things to keep in mind to help you along the way.
1. Know what you want from an employee — and make sure the job description matches.
“I have too much work. I just need help!” If this is your main thought going into the hiring process, you’re not alone. As a small business owner, it’s easy to take on too much — and those moments can be scary. But hiring an employee shouldn’t be a panicked decision. Between hiring, training, and salary, your employee is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) investment your company can make.
Ask yourself what you’re doing that is vital to your company’s success, and which tasks are just eating your time and holding your company back. Using this as a starting point, brainstorm your new position. Think about:
- What skills are needed to complete this work? (ex: fast typing skills, an electrician’s license)
- What relationship will this employee have to you and to other employees in your company?
- What are their daily, weekly and monthly duties and responsibilities and how do they breakdown? (ex: Data entry – 40%, Pick-up and drop-off – 40%, Misc. admin work – 20%)
- What will their job title be?
Next, research salaries for similar jobs in your area, and balance the average with your own financial situation. Even if you don’t include it in your job description, you should have a sense of what salary you can offer.
You might choose to adjust your job description once it’s live based on frequently asked questions or seeing what your competitors are doing.
2. Make the most of your time: Do some research on where to recruit.
Where you recruit your employees depends on your line of work. Before taking the time (and in some cases, paying the money) to blast your job posting out on message boards like Monster, Indeed, Craigslist or LinkedIn, do some research. Ask friends in your industry what’s worked for them and search online in industry-specific publications and message boards. They might suggest reaching out to connections on LinkedIn or posting it on certain industry-specific job boards and social media groups. They might even suggest a job fair or a networking event — don’t undersell in-person networking.
Once you have a sense of your options, pick a few — and only a few. Unless you have a person handling this kind of work full-time, keep your effort contained. Remember that listing the job is only step one. You’ll also have to organize meetings with candidates, answer questions from candidates in email and over the phone, screen applicants, interview applicants, check references and communicate with unsuccessful candidates. Pace yourself.
Focus your energy on what you have a hunch will work, leaving time for carefully evaluating candidates as they roll in.
3. Show up to the interviews prepared.
Three things to have on hand when you interview job candidates in person or on the phone. One: A copy of their resume that you’ve read, reread, perhaps even highlighted or marked up. Two: Your job description. Three: A list of prepared interview questions.
Top Pro business owner Patrick Lytle has been managing and hiring employees for decades. He believes his design company, Right Angle Studio, has succeeded because of their strong focus on hiring.
“When I’m interviewing candidates I don’t want to hear what they’ve done. I want to hear what they’re going to do. I always ask ‘What do you love about going to work every day?’ I think you can tell a person’s level of commitment in even the first phone call if you ask the right questions,” he says.
As you interview the candidate, look beyond their answers. How are they answering your questions? Are they clear? Do they seem enthusiastic about the job? About the company? Can they give examples of how they’ve used their skills and competencies? Do they have fresh ideas? Patrick explains, “You can teach someone a skill like InDesign, easy. You can’t teach them commitment, vision, or excitement. That’s what you want. Someone who has these intangible attributes and meshes with your culture.”
4. Stay organized. You’re going to have a lot of business paperwork.
Let’s be blunt. Hiring a new employee means filling out stacks of paperwork. Know what you need in advance and make sure to keep track of things as you go — you’re required to hold on to certain documents for specific periods of time.
Some forms that you should know about as you start the hiring process:
- Paperwork for registering an Employee Identification Number (EIN). Visit the IRS website for more.
- An I-9 form to verify your employee’s work status. Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more.
- Other tax documents including a W-4. Visit the IRS website for more.
- Paperwork for registering new hires to your state directory. Visit the Office of Children & Families website for more.
- Documents related to worker’s compensation insurance. Visit the U.S. Department of Labor website for more.
Paperwork tip: Know where to look. Figuring out what you need to register new employees and where to go to fill them out can be a maze. Here are a few hiring guides to help you map the process out.
- The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Small Business Nation resource page includes a toolkit specifically for growing your small business.
- The U.S. Department of Labor provides resources for hiring, including compliance rules and background on hiring laws and regulations.
- Searching “small business” on the IRS website surfaces industry-specific guides and webinars on filing your taxes, creating retirement plans and more.
- The Small Business Association has this guide for hiring and managing employees (and all the paperwork that comes with them).
5. Get your employees ready and set expectations.
You’ve made your hire. Your paperwork is done. It’s time to get your new employee up to speed. How you train will depend greatly on the work you do, the size of the business, and the nature of the job. Still, there are a few general rules that apply to pretty much every job.
- Be clear about your expectations. Benchmark your employee’s performance against the roles and duties in their job description.
- Have a conversation about career growth. What’s the next step for your employee in the company? If there is no next step, how else can they grow?
- Teach your employee about your company’s values.
- Give your employee the resources they need to succeed — and make sure they know who to turn to in different situations.
Patrick Lytle explains, “The people you hire are your representatives. They act on behalf of you and your brand. If you build a strong brand and belief system, the people you hire will fall in line.”
For more tips on running a small business, check out this article on having the price talk with your customers.