Hiring a new employee is a big commitment, consider the need and prepare.
1. Hiring: a help or a hindrance?
Everyone is tired and morale is low. Customers are being minimally serviced but other important tasks are falling by the wayside.
When these circumstances arise, it is difficult to know if you should hire a new employee. Often, existing employees think that having an additional resource will solve all their workflow problems.
This is not the case and sometimes hiring a new employee can actually make things worse. The decision to hire a new employee is often the hardest decision an owner makes. Finding a new employee is not only expensive and a lot of work, it is also relatively permanent.
2. So, you have decided to hire…now what?
Drafting a position description will allow you to evaluate whether your firm needs a new employee.
It may seem bureaucratic for a start-up, mission-driven, “can-do” organization to draft position descriptions. Writing out the tasks will ensure that you are establishing a bona-fide position that will add value to the organization. Ultimately, you will want to describe the position in concise, clear language. Initially, however, you should be as verbose and descriptive as possible.
This will enable you to think of the skills required to perform these duties. Once you have all the possibilities for tasks the new employees will perform you can begin to cull the list make it more manageable.
When carving out a position from existing employee functions pay attention to the connectedness between positions. Be sure to discuss the position with existing employees to verify that the new position will not overlap too much with your other employees.
Employees want to have ownership of an entire task or process. This will reduce stress levels and allow everyone to excel.
The ideal position description has five components:
- Position title that describes the nature and level of the work performed
- Two sentences that describe the primary function and general purpose of the job
- [Up to] eight essential duties that will comprise the position, listed in order of importance
- Position qualifications
- Special considerations (physical environment, physical effort, commercial driver’s license, Ability to speak Spanish, etc)
The final product should be gender neutral and use objective language.
3. The interview process – longer than you would expect and requires exacting focus
Technology continues to impact the job market and the process of getting jobs.
For the most part, technology has had a positive impact. Small companies that hire infrequently do not always achieve the optimal answer because they are ill-equipped to handle the volume of resumes received. When my firm posted a job that required two years of experience and relatively sophisticated Microsoft Excel skills, we received resumes from 70 candidates with zero to 35 years of experience.
Worse, the majority of the resumes received failed to mention Microsoft Excel!
When managing the interview process, consider the following steps and up to a two-month timetable from the time you post the position:
- Reviewing the applications (10-30 days after posting)
- Inviting candidates for interviews (immediately after the application deadline)
- Conducting the interviews (1-2 weeks after the application deadline)
- Deciding, notifying and winning the applicant’s acceptance (1-2 weeks)
In my experience, the best candidates submit their application 5-20 days after you post the job. This implies to me that the best candidates craft specific resumes and tailor their cover letters for the position.
The hardest part about reviewing resumes is matching the contents of each application to the position description. I have never found a perfect match but generally get close enough by looking for resumes from employees in companies in similar industries or with backgrounds I think could be relevant.
Two words of advice about the interview process.
First, be human. For some reason it has become socially acceptable to ignore job applicants. You can change this mentality one applicant at a time.
After you have reviewed the applicants and selected those you want to meet, send a brief email to the applicants you will not meet thanking them for taking the time to apply. This practice will establish you and your company as good humans.
You never know where your next customer will come from! Secondly, make everyone you meet feel special. You can only hire one of them but they still sacrificed their time to come meet with you.
Again, you never know which of these candidates will land at a vendor or client.
The decision to hire a new employee is a lengthy process that will distract you from the main purpose of the company: servicing clients and earning a profit. Focusing on the details will help you hire the best candidate and make your time investment worthwhile.
In my next post I will write about getting the employee off to a great start by arranging a fabulous first day.