How to employ the right people


Charlotte Smith looks at how you can pick the right person for the right job.  It’s not always easy, and by no means an exact science, no matter what some human resource gurus may tell you. There are so many factors to consider when choosing someone to work for you.  

Here, Charlotte looks at some of these, and how you can make sound informed choices when employing new staff.


Small businesses that grow and thrive have one thing in common—they recruit the right people for the right job. Not as easy as it sounds. If you ask the MDs of really successful companies, they’ll tell you that finding the right people to join their team is their top priority.

Hiring new staff is usually a gamble, and when you first look for a pair of extra hands, it’s because you’ve got too much on your shoulders and you need some help. Make the wrong decision however, and things in the workplace can actually become more stressful as a result.

There are a number of considerations that have to be ticked off. You need to think about training the person to take over which can often be time consuming. Not only that, letting them loose on your loyal customers is a risk…will they keep them happy and not rock the boat, or upset them to the point where it all gets a little bit tricky?

Bringing on a great new person can also create the necessary spark to re-energise a business. One marketing consultant we have worked with took on an personal assistant, even though he wasn’t sure he could afford it at the time.

Business jumped 35% in six months. By freeing up the boss so that he could do what he was meant to do, the hired help had all of the necessary administrative tasks taken care of. This meant that the owner was able to focus on sales and landed all the new business. A calculated risk, but one that paid dividends.

Here are some processes you could follow to help you make the right choices to grow your business and give it that little kick start to get things moving in the right direction.

Be clear on what you want help with

Great! Your business is going well enough that you’re inundated, and you have the finances to recruit a spare pair of hands. When you’re so tied up and busy, it can be tempting to hire the first person that looks a half decent fit, but this is where mistakes and rash decisions often happen. For example, you can hire someone who is brilliant at paperwork and filing, but falls down on the marketing side. The first step is to take a step back and slow down for a moment to figure out exactly where someone new to your business can make a real and lasting difference.

Write a clear job description

Before you even think of writing that all important job description, you should make a list of the tasks you want your employee to do. After that, ask them to estimate how many hours per week each of these activities will require. This second step is important, because it will give you a sense of how big the role is, and what type of person you want. Do you need a full-time employee? A college student or a mature part timer for 8 hours a week? Or a flexible, virtual assistant who can adjust hours based on your needs?

Take the list of tasks and then turn it into a written job description—one that is appealing, and by appealing I mean one that will encourage only the best candidates to apply. This is a very important factor, and one where many people fall down. There are amazing people out there looking to work for you, but you won’t ever get a chance to meet them if they read your job description and don’t become excited at the thought of applying for the role.

Push the job description out

No matter how great your job description is, it won’t do you much good if you don’t get the right kind of people seeing it. Because you don’t know where the best candidates are, it’s best to get as many eyeballs on it as possible. Fortunately, in this interconnected world, you have a lot of options. You can post your job description on public job boards, like Gumtree, Free Ads or Craigslist. Some trades or professions have their own bulletin boards and websites. These would be a good place to also advertise for the right candidates.

People who come recommended by someone you know are still the best source for potential employees. So post your job description on your social media sites (both your business and personal pages). Include the job opportunity in your business newsletter, if you have one. Emailing the JD to friends and colleagues is a good idea too.

Ask about past employment experiences

A good way to assess whether someone is a suitable for what you need is to ask them to share any significant, past work experiences. If you need someone who can work to tight deadlines, ask them for specific examples in the past when they had to deal with tough deadlines how they felt to be under that kind of pressure. If you’re thinking longer term and need to set up a team, ask them for details of past projects when they may have been responsible for a group or in charge of a team, how they dealt with difficult issues and problems, and with individuals in the team especially.

Ask open ended questions…The most common interview mistake is asking general questions without getting specific proof. Don’t assume on the strength of their conviction in the way that they say ‘yes’, that they are convinced or even know how to do something. Ask for specific examples of where they applied that skill or knowledge in previous roles. You deserve more information if you are to give that person a chance to work with you. Equally, give them a chance to talk about details without interrupting. You will get more out of an interview by listening to them properly.

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

When you’ve found someone you want to employ, it’s time to make them an offer. This is where the tables turn! This is where you have to start selling your business to them, and why you would be so good to work for. If you don’t sell yourself from the outset, the best candidates for the role could turn around and say ‘no thanks’. Don’t let yourself be surprised. Once you have a potentially great employee in your grasp, keep them hooked and keep them interested and enthralled with the prospect of working with you. It is important to keep responses post interview both personal and professional as well as positive. Call them on the phone and congratulate them. If you see ground where their experience base can grow and benefit your business in the long run, share that with them from the outset.

Now is also the time to get into the nitty gritty. Hours per week, wage or salary, start date, work environment, etc.

Above all, don’t fall into these two traps: First, make sure that you make sure that your new employee is fully aware of what the role entails.

Before you invest time in training, make sure that they’re 100% happy with what’s expected of them and their scope of works. Failing to plan as they say, is planning to fail.

They may decide to quit and leave you out of pocket. So, put it all in writing – cover yourself. Relying on the other person’s memory and goodwill usually sets you up for a fall later on down the line.

Set a trial period

Make it easy on yourself and on your new employee, and start with a trial period. At the time you make the offer, let them know that they will be starting with a two-week trial period. Explain that this is time for you to get to know each other, and see if it’s a good fit for you both.

Two weeks is enough time to see how they work and tick. It’s also enough time to have given them feedback, some new skills, and to have seen how well they learn. The two week trial allows both parties to see how things are going to pan out and shape up, as well as working out what works and what doesn’t. Any problems can be nipped in the bud there and then.

After the two week period, make sure that you talk to your new starter about how things are going. If things aren’t working out, don’t be afraid to terminate the employment trial – if it’s apparent that you have hired the wrong person sooner, end it there and then, as it’s better for all parties concerned.

They are probably nervous and wondering if they are doing well – if they are doing well, tell them, and reassure them so they feel good about their work working with you.

Share three things with them that you like about their work – then, flip things on their head by sharing three things you’d like them to do differently, but in a positive way. This way they know exactly which activities or behaviours to continue, and which to change. You’re teaching them to be the best team member they can be.

Finally onboard

By now, you should have successfully taken on your first employee. This is one of the largest steps for any business, but by doing so, it can take a lot of the pressure off of your shoulders, and in a lot of cases make the whole business a more enjoyable experience.

It’s all very well when you start off being on your own, but it can be lonely and stressful, and having the right person onboard to help can make so much difference. We hope that by following our guide, you can increase the chances of finding the next big thing to happen to your business.

That person, irrespective of position in the company, has to be trustworthy, honest and an ambassador of the company at all times. And you have to be able to like and work with them, and they with you, in a company that they will with any luck will regard as their professional home for some time to come.

Useful Links

Hiring the right people for customer service

How to hire the right employees for your start-up

Top ten tips for hiring the right employees

Marketing Donut: The importance of recruiting the right staff

Further Reading

Brilliant Questions for Great Interviewers: How to Make Sure You Hire the Right Person for the Job – Dee Walker (Brilliant Business)

The Virgin Way: How to Listen, Learn, Laugh and Lead – Richard Branson (Virgin Publishing)

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