Finding and keeping great people is probably one of the hardest parts of running a business. It’s hard to know how people will interact within your company, how they’ll react under stress and how your customers will respond to them. The hiring process can sometimes be a minefield, full of the potential for unfortunate consequences for any misstep. In fact, there’s a lot about the hiring process that you can’t exactly control, so being able to control what you can means a lot.
One way to control your hiring process is by avoiding a common mistake many businesses make—and that’s hiring too quickly.
Hiring Too Soon Vs. Hiring Too Quickly
Now don't confuse hiring too quickly with hiring too soon. Hiring too soon may mean your company’s not quite ready to afford or to fully use the staff you’re bringing on. Hiring too soon can be way less damaging than hiring too quickly.
But here’s how too-quick hiring usually goes. You decide you need a new employee. You need to hire someone, oh, like yesterday. The problem is that “someone” translates to “anyone” because you’re filling a genuine need. Once you make up your mind, you’re determined to solve the problem as quickly as possible.
When you run an ad, the resumes start to trickle in. You review the 100 or so resumes you receive, and you pick your top 10 candidates to interview. You pick your favorite of the folks you interview and make the offer. Sound about right?
The trouble is that you’re only getting a small sample of the people with the skillset you’re hiring for. You’re only seeing the people who happened to be looking for a job when you happened to list it. The real number of people who might be a great fit—maybe even a better fit for your company—is probably much, much larger. Rather than reacting to the small number of people who responded to your ad, there might be a much better way to hire.
A.B.L.: Always Be Looking
Always being on the lookout for great talent—even if you’re not hiring—can help you avoid hiring too quickly. Always be networking and keep track of the folks you think would be a good fit for your needs…even if you don’t have those needs yet. Every competitor, every customer, every waiter, every vendor, every barista... You may want to evaluate them all as potential employees and make notes about them for future reference.
I actually suggest keeping a spreadsheet labeled “Talent.” When you run across a person who just wows you, consider getting their contact information and adding them to your spreadsheet. You may want to work on evaluating everyone you encounter in your daily life, determining if they would fit your company culture and figuring out if they have particular skills that would complement your team. Adding what impressed you and what skills stood out to you in your notes can help you remember what you liked about that potential hire.
Then, when you realize it’s time to hire a new salesperson or IT person, you can go to that spreadsheet. I suggest making a list of everyone you think would be a good fit for your new position and start setting up interviews.
Turning Your Work Into Action
When you’ve compiled a list of the best people you’ve encountered, it may help improve your selection of top talent better than if you simply sat back and wait for resumes to find their way to you. Who you hire is too critical to your company’s success to hire in a passive, reactive way.
You might worry that you’ll have trouble persuading the folks on your spreadsheet to come in for an interview, so one of my strategies is to make notes that remind me of why each candidate caught my eye. Whether it was the way your waiter deftly handled a nightmare table next to yours or the steps a customer service rep took to resolve your complicated problem, these notes can help you refresh your top talent’s memory when you get back in touch. Being remembered is flattering, and even if your candidates are already employed, you may be able to get them to come in for a chat if you pitch them properly.
That last-minute scramble just to get a body in place probably isn’t doing you any favors. Instead, consider working ahead on your staffing solution to improve your hiring process!
For more tips on building a strong company culture, access our exclusive guide by author and leadership expert Jon Gordon: Build a Winning Organizational Culture.
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