LaVolta - Recruitment for the Digital Age

How to find and hire your first employees

Looking for that perfect person to join your new business? Sally Mills’ advice is to follow a clear recruitment process. It’s better to take the time getting it right beforehand than finding yourself in a stinker of a situation later on.
ARE YOU READY TO GO ON THE HIRING PATH FOR YOUR NEW business venture? Let’s look at some of the challenges you might face and help you nail the recruitment process from the start .
Initial hires are normally carried out by the business owner, and most new businesses do not have the luxury of an internal human resources (HR) team. The first challenge is the interviewer not necessarily being skilled in the hiring process, and having an emotional tie to the business.
Let’s start with what not to do. You’ve been looking for ages and are feeling a tad desperate. A good candidate walks through the door and has the right look. You’re falling off your chair with excitement and talk about your company so enthusiastically that you forget to ask questions about them.
Don’t do that! Start off with a set structure to your interview. Ask questions first and explain your business and vision later.
Divide your questions into two categories: core competencies and personality traits. Competency covers the real tools needed for the job, such as leadership and influence, planning and organising, decision making, performance management, communication, knowledge and skills.
Personality looks at human qualities such as adaptability, attention to detail, initiative, ability to learn, tolerance for stress, integrity, team rapport and core motivations.
Undertake at least two interviews and a social team interview. Once you’ve found your star, don’t linger in making a decision; being indecisive is a put-off and good people are hard to find.
Before you make an offer, check three references for your top candidate. Verbal references are best and where possible talk to the candidate’s previous management and peers. While a character reference can be helpful, make sure it’s not just from their mate! Apart from looking at key strengths and weaknesses, ask the referee how the candidate coped in certain situations and also about their personality and attitude to work. You can teach people most things but a bad attitude is a killer for business, particularly a new one.
Ready to offer? Put an offer letter together and an employment contract detailing salary, any special work conditions, confidentiality terms and key performance indicators (KPIs).
Sounds painful, but if you don’t follow the right procedure it can come back and bite you in the bum later on. If possible, work with a good recruitment firm. Try not to see this as just a cost. Working with the right recruitment partner will benefit you greatly. Ask the firm to present testimonials and examples of similar roles they have successfully placed. You should feel totally comfortable with your recruitment partner. While gung-ho sales recruiters may be tenacious about making the placement, it’s unlikely they have your best interests at heart long term.
Some words of wisdom: take the time to hire, not fire. Put procedures in place as much as possible. Once you’ve found your star, don’t take too long to decide. Set goals and have monthly or quarterly meetings to measure performance. It may be time consuming, but get them right and you’ll be better at keeping your staff. You need to invest in them and it’s not all about money. Most people need to feel they are progressing along the right path, so well-timed, genuine praise and encouragement will work wonders!

Sally Mills

This article originally appeared in  Magazine November 2007

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