p2w2 SBL: Small Business Secrets to Hiring

A month after a young lad had been hired, he was called into the manager’s office.
“What’s this?” the manager asked. “When you interviewed with us, you told us you had five years experience. Now we found out this is your first job!”

“Well,” the young man explained, “in your ad you said you wanted someone with imagination.”

Small business hiring - make them jump into your company

Get to the right advice. Small business hiring is not that difficult

Hiring in startups and small businesses is not easy either. You have no brand, no money, no perks, nothing.
What’s in it for the new recruit? Why should she join you? Even if she wants to should you hire her? There are many questions that a small business faces. But there are few implementable answers out there.
“Hire great talent,” does not tell you how to do it.
Excuse me. I certainly want to. But how do I ‘hire great talent’? Where will I find them? How do I tell if THAT person is “great talent” or not?
Sadly, there are very few good answers. Very few. That’s why I thought I will do a post on this topic. This is a p2w2 Small Business Links (p2w2 SBL) post that brings the power of great articles to you.

Offer responsibility, access to management and flexibility

Employees of large companies crave for what small businesses can offer. “By offering prospective employees real responsibility, access to management, and work schedule flexibility, your small business can compete in today’s competitive hiring market.”

Tap your network, attend conferences, and post on your website

For a start up or small business, the best way to reach out is through your own personal network. Ask friends and relatives who might know the person or who may have friends in the target network (like if you want a software developer, then a community of software developers) you are looking for.
Second, attend conferences and meetings where your target recruits network. Posting in social networking websites where your target recruits network is also a good idea.
Third, something that most overlook, post the job description of the jobs you are trying to hire for on your website. Those who want to join your company, look at your website. Are you there to pick it up?

Realize that hiring is all about probabilities

“Hiring is all about probabilities. When we evaluate a candidate, we are basically just trying to predict whether that candidate will be a success in the position being filled. We’re trying to know the future, but we have no prophets and no Oracle. So, we use various indicators that we believe will be correlated with future success. But there are no certainties. Sometimes all our indicators are positive, but the employee just doesn’t work out.” Eric Sink

If you own a butcher shop, don’t hire vegetarians. Hire people with passion for your mission

“Hire people with a passion for

your mission,” says Robert Kiyosaki
“One of the reasons Steve Jobs is the entrepreneur of the era is because he has missionaries inside his company as well as outside–Apple Computer’s customers are missionaries, too. Jobs is successful because he is true to his personal mission and demands the same from his staff. Jobs’ mission is at the core of Apple Computer.”

Hire better than yourself. Hire infected people

Guy Kawasaki says:

Hire better than yourself
“I have come to believe that we were wrong–A players hire A+ players, not merely A players. It takes self-confidence and self-awarness, but it’s the only way to build a great team.”
Hire infected people
“Is the candidate infected with a love of your product? Because all the education and work experience in the world doesn’t matter if the candidate doesn’t “get it” and love it.”
Apply the Shopping Center Test
“Suppose you’re at a shopping center, and you see the candidate. He is fifty feet away and has not seen you. You have three choices: (1) beeline it over to him and say hello; (2) say to yourself, “This shopping center isn’t that big; if I bump into him, then I’ll say hello, if not, that’s okay too;” (3) get in your car and go to another shopping center. My contention is that unless the candidate elicits the first response, you shouldn’t hire him.”

Date before you marry

“Try before you buy” says Dharmesh Shah. “You should make it a practice to have people work for the company before you hire them. Though hiring an employee you don’t know is not quite as big a commitment as getting married, it can often be almost as risky from a startup’s perspective. (Apologies for the metaphor, it is almost 2:00 a.m. here in Boston and I can’t think of anything better). In this model, potential employees (especially those in the technical ranks) are considered to be in a “probationary” period (what I would call the “dating” period) for some length of time. During this period (which was usually 60-90 days in my case), either party has the ability to declare that the relationship is just not working out and move on – with no misgivings on either side. This is made clear very early in the process.”
There are implementation issues but the concept makes sense. You can use ‘probationary’ period more effectively. I suggest you read not only the article but also the comments below it because they give you a perspective of differing views on this topic.
There’s enough juice in all these articles to think about. Do think about it and pen your thoughts in the comments.
Picture credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marcogomes/

11 Replies to “p2w2 SBL: Small Business Secrets to Hiring”

  1. Chaitanya, This is an excellent article on hiring for small businesses.
    This blog is very informative and very well organized.

  2. Chaitanya,

    Your detailed analysis of the startup hiring process and thought structure is compelling and informative. You bring an well researched opinion to the table.

  3. At a company I worked for once, we hired a graphic designer.

    Turns out he was a heroin addict, who left for mysterious reasons all the time. He was violent, slammed stuff around, and refused to learn new skills like CSS, elegant design, and cross-browser compatibility.

    Having them work in your office as a free lancer might be a good solution, but bad character traits and unseemly work habits can be concealed.

    He had shifty eyes and didn’t look at you when answering. We should have noticed this. The problem is we are trained to be “nice” and not think poorly of others. Thus, con artists and misanthropes flourish.

    Employers need to ask hard questions, have applicants solve hypothetical problems. Ask questions that will reveal how much real tech savvy the person has.

  4. I think “hiring infected people” is probably one of the most important for a small business or a startup. You do not want people for whom its a 9-to-5 job. The people you hire need to know enough about the business domain/technology to know what they are getting into, and also need to be passionate about that area. The former alone is not enough – the passion is critical.

    I once interviewed with a very small startup. The CEO was explaining his business ideas, strategy, technology etc, and even at that point I felt I simply did not connect with it at all. Infact I did not even agree that such a business model was viable in the long run. I politely told him that I just didnt see eye to eye with his company and left. I knew enough about that business but could never love it enough to find the passion.

    One more thing I would look for, esp for early stage startups, not mentioned in this article, is how risk averse the candidate is. Look for if and how they have taken any risks in their life/career. Also, Look at where they are in their life – did the guy just have a baby and bought a large house with a huge mortgage? He might be risk averse right now and looking for some stability. You want people who have taken risks in their previous work, failed and learnt from it.

  5. Gowri, That’s a very thoughtful comment. I agree with you about the risk averseness. If a person has a huge mortgage and he/she has to survive on a meager salary, that’s not going to work. However, that is more applicable for senior management for whom stock is the compensation and they work on very low salary. For middle management and junior roles, that may not be applicable because they could be compensation at or near the market salary.

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