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5 Recruiting Tips for Small Business Owners​​​​​​​

A few weeks back during the Bunker Labs military entrepreneur incubator, we discussed the importance of hiring. We prepared by reading articles and watching a video of Steve Jobs talking about the importance of hiring in the early years of Apple. Since my business focuses on hiring the best military talent, I was asked to share my perspective. Here are a few things I shared:

1.     Hire from your networks, but don’t hire close friends. I learned early that nothing ruins friendships faster than a financial relationship. Hiring friends may seem easy because you’re getting a known entity, but when the demands of running a business dictate that you must have a difficult conversation, the friendship adds too many variables to the situation. You run the risk of either a) losing a dear friend due to work issues or b) losing the respect of other employees due to perceived preferential treatment if you choose to overlook your friend’s performance or behavior issues. Look for people who are one or two degrees of separation from you - this is someone a good friend recommends. You can trust the friend to make a great recommendation while not compromising the relationship.

2.     Understand and clearly articulate your businesses’s “Why”. The “Why” is the core belief that explains the purpose for which your business exists (and it’s not solely to make money). Articulate that “Why” in everything you communicate about the job to attract the right kind of candidates. In the interview process, dig into the candidate’s “Why” to ensure it’s a match to your business. This will result in higher satisfaction on both sides of the employment relationship and increase retention across the board.

3.     Be prepared to invest a great deal of time in the process. Recruiting is a multi-step process that begins when you recognize the need to hire and doesn’t end until your new hire is through his or her initial probation period (typically 90 days). When I oversaw recruiting at McChrystal Group, each qualified candidate required approximately 10 hours of our time. We generally screened 30 people (15-30 hours), and interviewed at least five strong candidates before hiring one. That means one hire required 65-80 hours of time investment from the company’s employees and executives. At McChrystal Group, we had the luxury of a very full pipeline of highly-qualified candidates. If you don’t have an existing pipeline, you will need to add another 40-60 hours to find great candidates. Plan accordingly.

4.     Make room for reality in the hiring process. Understand what ideal looks like but, like any relationship, recognize that the perfect fit will still be a human being and, thus, flawed in some way. I’m not saying you should settle for someone who isn’t a good fit, but you do need to evaluate which skills (both personality-based and task-based) are “Must Haves” and which are “Nice to Haves”. Be open to the possibility that the perfect person for the job may have characteristics you didn’t anticipate when writing the job description, and ask yourself if you have any unintentional biases creeping into your disqualification decisions. Self-awareness is key in hiring. Ask yourself at every step along the way why you’re making a particular decision. Ensure the reasons are appropriately linked to the outcomes you are looking for this employee to create.

5.     Invest in the services of a professional. If you aren’t a website expert, you hire a web designer to create a professional website. If you aren’t an accountant, you hire one to ensure your finances are accurate and the IRS stays off your case. If you aren’t a social media expert, you hire one to grow your online following and run your Facebook ads. Why, then, would you not consider hiring a professional recruiter when you need to grow your team? Outsourcing your recruiting function can cut your time investment by 50 percent or more because a professional recruiter does all the searching for candidates and you only see those who are highly qualified. A professional recruiter uses advanced sourcing techniques to find candidates who would never have replied to your ad posted on a job board. This means you interview fewer and better candidates and recover your time. It’s a win for you no matter how you look at it.

The Author:  Jean South is a Marine spouse, daughter of two Army veterans, and former FBI Special Agent. During her career she has had the honor of working alongside our nation’s warriors. As the President and CEO of the Hire Served, Jean gives companies a competitive advantage to compete for veteran talent by helping bridge the culture gap between military candidates and HR.  

Read more about bridging the gap between veterans and employers in the Connector's Corner Blog.