Founder’s Focus: How I Hire Talent

Note: this blog is the first in a series of blogs I hope to write on various topics that aren’t related to our company’s services, but definitely related to how we cope with the same challenges that our clients and colleagues often face as small businesses.

Running a small business is challenging, but growing a small business is even harder.  One of the major challenges for small businesses as they grow is hiring additional staff.

Posting a position and receiving hundreds of resumes to review isn’t practical, I’ve got a business to run.  Plus, resumes are of limited insight as they really only show that person’s ability to proof read and that person’s story-telling – it’s natural instinct (even coached) to tout the performance and contributions of oneself much like my 7 year old might when we return from a day fishing at the lake.

My first significant experience hiring employees occurred in my mid-20s when I worked at a growing real estate company.  Responsible for growing a division of the company, I deliberately hired individuals fresh out of college despite their lack of experience and I made my hiring decisions based on specific talents I though each person brought to the team.  It was an incredible success and the individuals that worked for my division grew considerably and have gone on to have incredible careers.  While I’d like to say it was the result of a great strategy, at that point in my career it was born out of my arrogance and unwillingness to hire someone that had more experience than me.

The success I had in this early part of my career has been a major influence in my hiring.  From that experience, I’ve confirmed

  1. The traditional hiring process doesn’t work for a small business like mine
  2. While I’d like experience, I can succeed by hiring someone with 70% of the talent I need
  3. I have to be committed to developing any new employee regardless of their experience or skills

To make new hires (interns, or full- or part-time employees), I still look to recruit from students at colleges, universities, communities colleges and even high school (junior/seniors).  To start the hiring process I reach out to educators and ask them to pass along  to students looking for work.

And instead of having them submit a resume, I ask them to review a Candidate Opportunity Packet, and complete and return our Skills Simulator (example below).

Candidate Skills Simulator 2.1
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