Amy Wong, founder of Dot Org Solutions, a marketing and consulting firm located in the Accelerator shares her thoughts on how to make smart hiring decisions.
Over the last four years, our company has been growing. Between gaining new clients and having incremental business from existing clients, adding staff has been essential.
Our team at Dot Org isn’t big (we just added our fifth, full-time person). Yet every person added has been carefully selected to fill a particular need for our clients and for our company.
Unlike an existing business with open positions, small, young companies like ours are creating jobs and hiring for positions that haven’t existed before. For us, adding staff meant filling gaps in tactical and technical areas as well as allowing me as CEO to move from managing day-to-day operations to focus more on strategy. It also meant making sure new hires were comfortable having a position that may have ever-evolving responsibilities.
I have learned many things along the way that help us hire better when the need for new team members arises. There are nine things in particular I’d like to share.
- Figure out the real costs associated with adding a position.
Before adding my first three positions, I met with my accountant to talk about hiring costs and determine if the company could afford and sustain the positions. I learned that costs go way beyond salary. Insurance, software licenses, hardware, parking passes, payroll taxes and other items add up. These sessions helped me get a better understanding of cash flow and forecasting
- Put the right people on your hiring team.
Hiring is not one of my favorite things to do. If you’re like me and don’t have an interest in going through the process, find someone who does. I am the final decision maker and participate in interviews, but we have other team members who are good at doing the initial vetting for us.
- Have a hiring process.
A formal hiring process is critical to keep things moving smoothly. Our process includes where we post the job to how we onboard our new people. We tweak it each time we hire to help improve efficiency. Our process also helps us better focus on hiring the right person.
- Involve your team.
We are a small shop so it is important for our team to be part of the hiring process since we all work closely together. If your team is larger, make sure the people working with the new staff member, especially the direct reports, are involved in hiring. Getting buy-in creates good camaraderie and leads to smoother onboarding.
- Hire the positions most critical to your company first.
To grow your company, do you need someone to develop software, to sell a product or to help provide a service? That person should be your first hire. For us, initial staff positons were needed to manage work from new accounts and generate revenue in the form of billable hours. Subsequent hires have been made with revenue generation in mind, but also specific expertise in key service areas and processes.
- Hire for fit.
Hiring for fit has always been a key component of my hiring philosophy. We spend a ton of time at work with our staff and colleagues. The wrong person can be toxic. More often than not, you can train for skills. You can’t make someone fit your culture.
- Hire people who have complementary skills to yours.
Consider doing a work or strengths assessment (DiSC and Strengthsfinder are popular) to learn your work style and strengths. Then hire people who will help close the gaps. Highly functioning teams have people with varying skills and strengths. And you cannot be good at everything.
- Determine where your time is best spent.
This one is specific to CEOs and founders. Not all positons have to be staff positions. Outsource tasks if you can’t afford a full-time or part-time person. Hire subcontractors for key areas and find ways to build a team to support the work you are doing so you can concentrate on vision, business development, raising money or other key initiatives.
- Do a background check and check references.
Spending a few hundred dollars on a background check and calling references is a worthwhile investment. Vetting employees before they start helps avoid surprises that could cause problems in your organization. It’s cheaper than having to fire someone later.
At Dot Org Solutions, our hiring philosophy and process continues to evolve but I am convinced that the work we have done has helped us get the right team in place to help us grow. Whether you are seeking technical or tactical expertise in your growing company, taking time to plan for future hires will make the process much smoother and more efficient.