If you’re a small business owner or manager, the idea of hiring new employees can be exciting or nerve wracking (or both!). Business growth often means adding new members to your team, which requires some careful research and wise decision making. In order to keep your team productive and efficient and maintain a positive company culture, it’s important to not hire just anyone. It’s all about finding the right people.

The hiring process can be scary! What are some things businesses should do before sharing a job posting?

So often, this is where organizations will go wrong. They think the most important part is getting the job posting up and running, when really, the true success is in the prep work. Here are 3 things you should definitely have ironed out before posting a job:

What are your company’s mission and vision statements and how does this job tie directly to those statements?

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Do the hiring manager and recruiter (often times the same person for small businesses) have a very clear understanding of the skills gap this role will be addressing? Aside from the day to day work, how can hiring this person contribute to moving your organization to where it needs to be in 5-10 years? Do you have an understanding of how the technologies, processes, and skills for this role will be changing over that 5-10 year period?

What’s in it for the candidate? So often, businesses are laser focused on the fact that this position needs to be filled ASAP. This means they sometimes cut corners or presenting the “why you should work here” story to prospects. Remember: the high-performing talent you want to bring in has many options in today’s job market, so to truly have a shot at hiring the best you need to paint a clear picture of what you can offer the candidate.

What are some essential ingredients to include in a job description?

Start off with what’s in it for the candidate. Whether it’s a great benefits package, growth and development opportunities, an accelerated path to promotion, or working with the best and brightest coworkers in the industry, there’s always something unique about what you offer that will catch a candidate’s eye.

Secondly, be sure you are very clearly defining what will be expected of the hired candidate in the role. We love when organizations use a “day in the life” series of bullets to paint a colorful picture of what your work life will look like should you choose to accept this position.

Finally, don’t be afraid to use your authentic voice. Traditionally, all organizations like to use a very professional, buttoned-up, no-nonsense style when writing their job descriptions. If that doesn’t fit your talent brand and culture, don’t be afraid to mix things up! If your organization boasts a work hard, play hard mentality, be sure the play hard is showcased alongside the work hard even in your job description.

“If your organization boasts a work hard, play hard mentality, be sure the play hard is showcased alongside the work hard even in your job description.”

Where should small businesses look when hiring?

LinkedIn, obviously. In all seriousness, the real answer is small businesses should look into their networks when hiring. In the same way it’s incredibly important to use your network when finding a job, leveraging the connections you currently have to introduce you to top talent is not only an incredibly efficient way to hire for small businesses, but also incredibly effective because these individuals often have a proven track record with those you trust the most.

What are some questions every small business owner should ask potential candidates?

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With small businesses especially, it is of the utmost importance to ensure every hire contributes not only to the short term, but also the long term growth of your organization. The hiring process and training talent is expensive and time-consuming, so if you can make one hire that ends up staying with your company for many years and exponentially increasing the amount of impact they contribute over that time, you’ve hit the jackpot for small business success.

Often times, it’s difficult to think of questions that can assess the career trajectory of a candidate. Here are some of our go-to questions to uncover potential:

  • What are some of the ways you are investing in your own personal development outside of your day-to-day role? (Assessing their affinity to continual learning)
  • How do you approach down time in your work life? (Assessing self-motivation)
  • What’s your dream role/title at our organization? (Assessing long-term retention)

Having a great attitude and being a good fit for the company culture is just as important as being well-equipped with the skills a job requires. How can hiring managers get a feel for an applicant’s attitude and work ethic?

This is one of the hottest ongoing conversations when it comes to hiring great talent. The best piece of advice we’ve heard in the last year is that we should pivot our mindsets away from hiring a “culture fit” and instead hire a “culture add”. The danger of hiring for culture fit is that you could begin hiring a highly homogenous workforce and miss out on the magic of having diverse backgrounds, thoughts, and contributions for your employee base.

“Culture add”, on the other hand, helps you to identify opportunities to further develop your culture and hire somebody that will actively contribute to creating the type of workforce and workplace you seek to have in the future. This means looking for people who will start a new “Wednesday afternoon” event to engage your employees, as opposed to finding the candidate that will fit in best with your current lunchtime plans and conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about how they’ve done this in their previous organizations or at their schools.

When it comes to assessing attitude, we prefer to tap into the overarching “mindset” that a candidate brings to their work. At LinkedIn we look to hire and develop individuals to have a “growth mindset” – being a lifelong learner, being open to receiving and delivering constructive feedback, and looking at failures as an opportunity to walk away with key lessons learned. We recommend checking out Mindset by Carol Dweck to understand how you can develop your own growth mindset, and also key into recognizing this trait in others!

“The danger of hiring for culture fit is that you could begin hiring a highly homogenous workforce and miss out on the magic of having diverse backgrounds, thoughts, and contributions for your employee base.”

What’s one of the most common mistakes you see small businesses make when hiring?

Treating the hiring process as a secondary business priority and thinking they can make a great hire in a fraction of the necessary time. Listen, we know being agile and efficient is extremely important for small businesses and start-ups. But time and time again we’ve seen small businesses make a hire as quickly as possible only to find that individual wasn’t the right person for the job. Then they are back to square one hiring somebody new and looking back at the time and money they wasted on hiring the first time around.

Our biggest advice: get every member of your small business engaged in the hiring process. And do this early. This comes with several key benefits:

  • Engaging every member of your small business means you have access to a significantly larger network of potential talent that is known and trusted by current employees of your business.
  • Everyone should be able to tell your “talent brand story” – your employees are the biggest advocates to convincing the best candidate to come work for you

When everyone is aligned and engaged in your organization’s hiring priorities, you are able to speed up the decision making process. This leaves more time for the pieces of the process that may require more time: sourcing, assessing, and closing the candidate

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