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People are probably the most important contributor to your business so getting the right ones on board will be a critical determinant of your business' success.

This recipe distills the wisdom of many to suggest a process to improve staff selection.

Valuable Wisdom

Some of the valuable distilled wisdom to keep in mind when framing employment decisions include:

  • Leading business expert Jim Collins says it is more important to "get the right people on the bus" than it is to get the right business idea.  With the right people, any business has a chance.  With the wrong staff, few businesses have a chance.
  • Don't hire in haste and repent at leisure.  Much better to take your time and give the process your best choice than to choose too quickly.
  • Don't prolong the process unnecessarily.  You are unlikely to ever get the perfect fit so waiting for the perfect person is doomed to failure.  Try to generate as many leads as possible, cull them as fast as possible and choose the best candidate left (subject to the discussion below).  If you want to have a giggle some time, read some of the research on how many different people you should date before choosing one to marry.  It is a surprisingly low number!  (link)
  • Try to have more than one person interviewing in the final stages so you get several opinions.  Especially important to try to get different genders involved if the likely candidates are not of your gender and the job is likely to relate to one gender - say women's hairdresser chosen by male employers.
  • You will inevitably make hiring mistakes.  Experts strongly recommend you fire wrong fits quickly and move on.  If it takes you a month to find the right person, a month for them to give notice where they are now, two months for them to learn the job and 2 months to prove unsuited for the position, you are already in a 6 month cycle - and have the wrong person at the end!   The longer you delay the decision to replace the person, the longer you are short staffed and possibly even doing damage to your business.  Always have  a "trial period" clause long enough to test the person and act on it if necessary while it is in effect.

Process

Recruiting is a very similar process to Sales and Marketing and the concept of the Sales Funnel applies (Sales Funnel Recipe):

  • Decide what you want in the employee by creating a position description.
  • Advertise or use some other method to generate leads / candidates.
  • Short list candidates as fast as possible to weed out the unsuitable as quickly as possible to minimize the time wasted on candidates that are later culled.  Always start with the toughest question on your Position Description as the 80:20 rule (The Amazing 80:20 Rule) tells us this is the fastest way to cull.  

Once through this process, all surviving candidates are 'qualified' for the job.  Now it is a process of finding the best.

Goals

To hire the right people you should have a clear set of goals/objectives in mind for the person who is to fill the position.

A Position Description (PD) outlines the characteristics of the job and of the person to fill it.

It might take into consideration such things as:

  • Education levels.
  • Professional qualifications required e.g trade certificate, law degree.
  • Previous experience.
  • Supervisory skills / level / experience required.
  • Work location and hours.
  • Personality type e.g in hospitality, you are looking for engaging types who will manage the human contact well.  In a builder, you might be looking for a sense of craftsmanship, in an accountant perhaps accuracy will be important.
  • Remuneration: what are you prepared to pay and what are employees looking for in that level of position.  Hint: you can look at employment websites to find current pay/skill set mixes.

Mark the things in your Position Description as "musts" or "wants".  Musts are the things the candidates Must have (say a law degree).  You will use these to rapidly discard applicants who don't meet your basic requirements. Wants are things that you Want but are relative.  You Want the lowest paid person who meets all your Musts for example.

Though this may sound like tedious paperwork, the Position Description:

  • Development effort clarifies in your mind what you are looking for.
  • Provides most of the information needed for an advertisement anyway.
  • Acts as your filter through which you will run candidates for the position to sieve out the unsuitable.

Getting Leads

In this step, you want to get as many candidates as possible, as fast as possible, so that you have plenty of fish in your net to choose from.

Typically you advertise the position.  

There are many internet options to choose from.  Your choice should be governed by what your ideal candidates will be monitoring, not the cost.  If you are going fishing, it is a lot more productive to sail to where the fish are than to hope they will come to you!

Also drop a line to your social networks for referrals from others.  Referrals from friends and associates are very good leads because they come pre-qualified for quality by the person who is giving the referral to you.

In some areas, newspaper advertisements may be where the fish are.

Cull Leads Rapidly

Every applicant you have contact with is going to consume your valuable time so you want to get rid of the chaff as fast as possible.

Use the Must items in your Position Description to thin them out.  Start with Musts that you can do without taking time to contact them personally.  Email is a good way to do this as you can send just one email to a number of people at once. Remember to BCC them so they don't see everyone else.

People will have sent in their work history (Curriculum Vitae or CV) but inevitably, that will have big holes in it from the point of view of your Position Description.  Many of them are 'canned' anyway.  They send the same one for every job. You can ask them again to give specific answers to your specific requests in the email.  A more sophisticated way to handle this might be an online survey tool like Google Form.

It might be that the type of staff you are looking for are not the type of people who would be good at written answers so this step will not apply to  all.

At the end of this step you have suitable candidates that you need to rank in order of preference.

It might be that this cull leaves you few or no candidates. If so, reconsider your Musts as they might be too tough (e.g. you want to pay too little).  Alternatively, your fishing net might have gone out at the wrong time (e.g. annual summer holidays when no one is looking) or not have been cast wide enough to turn up leads.  Pause and consider what to do here.

The intention in this step is to remove any of those that fail your Musts as fast and as economically as possible leaving just suitable people that you need to rank in priority.  In Sales and Marketing "speak",these are "qualified" leads.

Ranking Qualified Candidates

Once you have a list of people who pass all the necessary requirements the task then is to rank them in some sort of priority order.  This  looks like a difficult task.

Consider a similar problem.  When you buy a car, you have to trade off colour, engine type, fit-out, price and a host of other variables.

A tool for quickly ranking a number of candidates, against a range of criteria to identity them in preferred order, is to use the Weights and Scores Tool methodology.

After doing a Weights and Scores you have your candidates in priority order.

Interviewing

Books have been written on this topic and it is too much to cover here.

Do consider:

  • Re-interviewing people to see if the story remains the same.
  • Having more than one person doing the interview to get more than one impression.
  • Having persons of different genders on the interview team to improve the results.
  • Your "gut" is a highly tuned interview instrument.  Trust it!  It's evolved over thousands of years being chased by saber-tooth tigers.
  • Probe for any missing time slots in their career in case they are not telling you about a job that went sour.
  • If they change jobs more often than you would expect in your industry, ask why.  They might have been fired.
  • If they blame past bosses for not getting ahead, they are going to do the same to you.

Reference Check

Experts in this field say to always interview the people given as references.

Consider:

  • That they will only give their best references so any hesitation on the part of the referee is significant.
  • Always try to interview a previous employer who is not given as a referee. This will be illuminating.
  • If you tell the candidate you are going to do this, their reaction will also be illuminating.
  • If the position is important, you might contact every past employer likely to remember them.

If you still have a number of candidates, you can plug the interview and referee checks back into your Weights and Scores table to re-prioritize the candidates.

Post Selection

Once you have a winner, consider:

  • A formal employment contract to avoid 'he said, she said' arguments down the track.
  • Check your offer meets any government official guidelines on salary, leave and other conditions.
  • A trial period long enough to get them trained and to see how they perform post-training.
  • Post- employment (perhaps monthly) formal feedback sessions.  Document any poor or weak areas and have them sign it to both get the issues to stick in their memory and to be able to rebut any unfair dismissal allegations at a later date.

 Resources

There are many sources of draft employment contracts on the Internet.

If you do a lot of employing or it is important in your business, the book Topgrading (How To Hire, Coach and Keep A Players)  by Brad Smart is an interesting read.  See a free version on YouTube (along with a number of others) at Brad Smart - Youtube

 

 

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