As an entrepreneur, you are leading the way toward America’s economic recovery. As your business grows, you may consider hiring employees or terminating under-performing ones. These are major decisions in the life of a business and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Hiring the right person brings many benefits and frees you up to concentrate on business-building activities such as product development, marketing, and sales.
First of all, if you are considering hiring employees, congratulations! You are obviously doing something right. Hiring and keeping good employees is essential to a successful business. You want to look for employees who are reliable, share your vision of the company, are capable of contributing to the business’ growth, and welcome positive change.
So when you set out to find those employees, you should have a clear idea of what the position will entail. Write up a job description that includes duties, hours, responsibilities, compensation structure, benefits, etc. Create a position announcement from that job description. Keep in mind that you are looking for candidates who want to grow with your company, so put your best foot forward.
The candidate’s cover letter and resume are the first measure of their ability to take direction. Did they prepare the materials to your job posting? Does it look like they researched your company? Did they proofread? Look for gaps in the candidate’s employment history. Review the applicant’s materials looking for people you might know who aren’t listed as references. These “unofficial” references may be more candid than the listed references.
During interviews, you’ll play two distinct roles: 1) detective; and 2) salesperson. As the detective, you are trying to discern an applicant’s strengths and weakness. Does the candidate match your needs? Are they a good fit? Find out the answers by asking probative, open-ended questions. “What are your strengths?” “What are your weaknesses?” “What do you think sets you apart from the other applicants?” “What do you look for in a boss?” “Tell about a failure and what you learned from it?” Watch out for illegal questions! Never ask the applicant’s age, race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs.
Once a good candidate has been isolated, shift to the salesperson role. A good candidate may have several opportunities available to them. So be sure to highlight the benefits of working for you, the potential for advancement, and any fringe benefits.
Once you’ve settled on the right candidate, from day one keep detail employment records on them. Open an employee file and with their date of hire and separation, tax and benefit information, performance evaluations, promotions and demotions, and all disciplinary actions. These items may come in handy should a dispute arise.
You may never need employees, but when you do finding the right one can make all the difference. Spend some time thinking about what your needs are and what role that employee will play in your organization. If you hire right, train right, and motivate right, hopefully you’ll avoid what we’ll talk about next time: firing.
Donald R. Simon, J.D./LL.M., is president and CEO of Simon Business Consulting, Inc., a firm providing consulting services such as business and marketing plan development, incorporations, intellectual property advising, franchising regulatory assistance, and presentations on the basics of starting a small business. Send questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. This blog is provided as a source of information and is not to be construed as legal advice or opinion, or to form an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please consult an attorney.