Fired with enthusiasm: 6 tips to help with hiring

Don Mercer
Posted by Don Mercer
Small Business Banking

Hiring good people is tough, and it can be especially difficult when the job market gets tight. As Bank of the West Chief Economist Scott Anderson pointed out recently, small and medium-size employers currently have the pedal to the floor on hiring.

Man and woman sharing a high five while seated at a tableWhile it may be tempting to rush to get new employees in the door or lower standards to fill positions, here are six tips I’ve found useful that may help ensure you keep hiring and retaining top performers, even in this tight labor market:

Employ a team effort: The more people involved in the interview process the better. It is important that key people in your company who will interact with or depend on a new employee are invited to be part of the process of interviewing finalists. A product manager should have a say on hiring a sales manager, for example, since the sales manager’s insights from the market would help inform product development. If the two don’t get along from the outset, you may be putting product development, sales, and ultimately your company at a disadvantage.

Realize it’s a courtship: During the recruiting process, both you and the candidates should be evaluating whether they and the position are a good fit. Just as you will want to get to know your top candidates, they need to get to know your business, your culture, the people with whom they will be working, and what to expect on the job. If your candidate isn’t asking probing questions about your business, more often than not they are simply looking for job and not a place where they can truly make a contribution and grow.

Sell your company: Spend time developing your pitch. If you want top talent in a tight market, you’re going to have to be persuasive. What is it about your company that makes it an awesome place to work? I’m not suggesting you give an excessively optimistic account of your business, but rather an honest assessment of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, and how you believe the candidate’s skills will strengthen your team. I thought the San Antonio Spurs’ recent recruiting of LaMarcus Aldridge was particularly insightful. The Spurs delivered an honest explanation to Aldridge last summer about how he would fit into the team and he chose the Spurs over other — more lucrative — options.

Hire hard, manage easy: A rigorous screening and interview process may seem exhausting, but you’ll likely find it pays off. I’ve found, by putting candidates through a very thorough vetting process, I end up with really strong employees who require less management oversight.

Remember retention: Most companies use the phrase that they seek to “recruit and retain” top talent. However, sometimes so much attention is placed on recruiting that the equally important retention piece gets short shrift. Ask yourself, “What am I doing to hold onto good talent?” Are your people challenged, empowered to make decisions and take action, inspired, commended for success, and supported when they try but fail? Do you and your managers conduct periodic talent reviews of your team? Companies can lose great talent because the company has no vision, or the employee has no connection to the big picture, or there’s no fun in the culture.

Hire enthusiasm: Finally, there are moments of compromise. We can’t always hire the perfect candidate for every position. In this tight jobs market there can be a lot of pressure to hire candidates who may not have all the credentials you’re looking for. At some point you may compromise. If and when you do, here’s my tip: Opt for enthusiasm. I’ve found that you can teach a great many things, but you can’t teach enthusiasm.

To remind me how important enthusiasm is I keep a picture in my office that quotes the great football coach Vince Lombardi: “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you’ll be fired with enthusiasm.” Excellent words to manage by.

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