Getting the right team in place is definitely one of the most important things you can do for both your business success. It’s one thing to bite the bullet and start recruiting (which is an important decision to take), but it’s another thing entirely to do it well. Having a fantastic new team member can really change how your business operates, and more importantly, can add enormously to your enjoyment of the business. But likewise, taking the wrong decisions can become a burden. If you recruit someone that’s absolutely terrible for the role, hopefully you’ll take action to change things pretty quickly. But the problem lies when you find yourself with someone that is just “ok”. This situation usually slows your business down and saps your energy. And while there are no foolproof ways for recruiting awesome new team members every time, there are certainly some things you can do before recruiting to increase your odds.
Here are 6 things you should ALWAYS do BEFORE you start the actual recruitment process…
1) Consider Changing the Structure of your Team
Although you might be recruiting because another team member has left, don’t just automatically dive into replacing their exact role. It might be an opportunity to restructure the way the team works. For example, would two part-time positions be better? Would it be better to outsource some of this role? Should you change the way responsibilities are divided among team members?
Even if you’re hiring your first employee, think about the structure you’re aiming towards. Don’t just hire someone who can be “more of you”. Think about the work that you want or need to continue to do and how you could best be supported by an employee. If it’s for a technical position (eg a hairdresser, mechanic or accountant), maybe you’ll decide that you’d also like someone that can also run your social media or that can balance your books. In most cases, you’d look for someone that has skills that are complementary to yours or who likes doing the things you hate. Don’t miss this step before recruiting!
2) Create a List of Responsibilities and Tasks
Take this thinking one step forward and draft a list of responsibilities and tasks. I find it’s best to do this over a week or so and add to it as more things come to mind. Although this is just in dot-point form, it really becomes the rough-draft of your Position Description that gives you clarity before recruiting really begins.
3) Write the Position Description
Once you’re clear in your mind about what you want this person to do, begin to articulate this in a more professional way. The Position Description should be something that you can discuss with the candidate during the interview process to ensure you’re both clear about expectations.
This document might include broad areas of responsibilities, under which are dot-points of some of the tasks those areas involve. For instance, an area of responsibility might be “Customer Service – keeping our clients happy and informed”, and some of the tasks might include; answering telephone calls, responding to emails, proactively contacting customers to update them on progress, handling any complaints, writing client thank you cards, etc. Make sure you’ve got the position description finalised before recruiting starts.
4) Define the Skills and Traits Needed for the Role
Now that you’re very clear about the role, here’s where you define the skills and traits needed. Usually, this is not something that you’d show a candidate but something that you’d use when you’re assessing various candidates. You should include any technical skills (eg Excel know-how, experience using Xero, copywriting skills, or something specific to your industry), as well as traits that will help them succeed in the role (eg highly organised, strong negotiation skills, meticulous nature, ability to sell, high level of initiative, fast worker, etc).
Note that most often these types of traits are mutually exclusive so it’s really important for you to know which one/s are most important for your role as you can’t have everything! For instance, I have found that it’s difficult to find people that have natural sales skills that are also highly organised. Likewise, people that are very meticulous tend to be less creative. Of course these are generalisations but thinking through which traits are most important for your role is extremely important before you begin recruiting.
5) Define the Characteristics Required for Cultural Fit
Although you’re almost done on defining what you want, one more consideration is that of cultural fit and diversity in your business. Think about both the traits that will help a new starter fit in with the current team, and also the traits that will shape the team in a direction of your choosing. Does your team need more professionalism? More energy? More creativity? More focus? More experience?
For example, if your team is currently made up of highly energetic young people that are enthusiastic but need a lot of management, it might make sense for you to choose someone with some more maturity and experience. Of course the opposite can be said as well. However this needs to be balanced with thinking about whether other team members will like and accept them. After all, a happy, cohesive team usually correlates with a productive team.
6) Write a Compelling Job Advertisement
Before you put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard more likely) and start creating your job advertisement, remember that you’re trying to attract the best possible candidates to apply for you position. Put your marketing hat on and think about what would appeal about this position or your business to a potential applicant. Consider the profile of the person you’re hoping might apply – what would seem attractive to them? A friendly environment? Flexible work hours? Ability to work from home sometimes? Ability to have a big influence? A fast growing company? Autonomy in their work? Your reputation as a quality business? Have a look at other advertisements – perhaps in different areas – for inspiration and then draft the most attractive sounding advertisement you can muster. You’ll also want to include the realities of the position but make sure your passion comes through. Don’t be afraid to be different from other job ads either.
Once you’ve got a draft, do a check to make sure you’ve included;
- A description of the business (including a bit about your vision)
- An outline of the position
- The essential skills / traits / qualifications necessary
- Information about your location (unless the position is remote)
- Information about the hours (or state it’s full time)
- Clear instructions for how to apply
Once you’ve gone through these six steps you’re ready to start recruiting in earnest. We’ll soon have some information about screening and interviewing candidates so make sure you check back (or subscribe to our emails).
Is there anything else you’d add to this list? Have you ever recruited quickly and made some hiring mistakes? Would love to hear your stories…
I love that you point out that some characteristics are mutually exclusive! I spent so much time talking to clients about the negative correlation between sales and conscientiousness and the need to choose between them. I’d add that they need to think about how much/what level of each skill or characteristic is needed.
Fiona Adler says
That’s a really good point. The ideal way would be to rank or weight the characteristics sought so that people can really assess candidates properly – but that’s probably going too far! Do you find that people are often looking for the perfect person that’s good at everything. If you find someone that’s pretty good at everything, does that usually mean they’re not a stand out at anything? That would be my hypothesis but interested to hear your thoughts!