The Small Business Professor: Growing your Business with the right people

Q: I am the owner of a small, but growing company. I need to find a few good people to add to my staff. It’s really hard finding the right people who can do the job the way I want.  What advice can you give me so I can hire a new employee who will stay with me?

A: While there are many people looking for work, finding the right person for your job is so important in keeping your current growth going in the right direction. Doug Duncan, President of TalentValue has some excellent advice.

Hire for skill and fire for behavior. The first step in selecting the right person is to clearly define the job, both in terms of the task, what you want them to do, and also the behaviors or how you want them to act.

Locate qualified candidates. Today people will search on job boards that list the all the jobs available. Write a compelling job ad that tells the candidate why they would want to work for you.

A good applicant tracking system can be very helpful to collect all the resumes that you receive rather than flooding your email.

Review your resumes with care. Look for activities they did that match what you need. And     also any accomplishments that demonstrate they can achieve not just take up space

Interview the candidate using this approach.  Ask the same questions, in exactly the same order, to everyone you meet. Write down the questions based on the tasks and behaviors in your job description.

Do behavioral assessments on the candidate. These on-line tests look at the behaviors this person is likely to exhibit when they do show up to work. They can’t hide who they are.

Do background checks after you make the offer?  The laws are changing so you must be very careful not to move too quickly.

Train the new hire very carefully to do their job right.  Most people who quit early do so because no one taught them how to do the job right and they get discouraged.

Talk to the new hire every week to see how they are doing.

Conduct a performance discussion after 90 days to be sure they are on the right track.

You will have a far better chance of finding and retaining great employees if you follow these steps.


Bruce Freeman is president of ProLine Communications and is co-author of “Birthing the Elephant” (Random House). He is an adjunct professor at Seton Hall and Kean universities. Please send questions to Follow Bruce on Twitter @smallbizprof and Facebook

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