October 2, 2014

Navigating the Recruiting Maze

For a lot of hiring managers and small business leaders, hiring remains the most crucial pain point. If you magically get the right people, stuff just gets executed. However, we never make the perfect hiring decisions all the time. Sometimes we are in a hurry to fill the role, and the options available seem more attractive than the list of skills and qualities we carefully created.

navigating maze

Of course, every manager has a different outlook – some of us “hire fast, learn fast and fail fast,” whereas some of us passively look at many resumes and only make an addition to the team when it feels right. I’ve made my fair share of errors and would like to share an example that might help when you are at the next crossroads and in a hurry.

I was looking for an online marketing person and started furiously going through LinkedIn for profiles that had keywords of certain skills that were required. After I found a few profiles, I cold wrote to a particular prospect and heard back from her. She shared her detailed resume with me and it looked like a dream. After I explained the role to her, she seemed positive that it was her domain and she joined the next day.

Over the next few weeks, she worked very hard and made a difference to our efforts. Her skills were matching with many peripheral tasks, except for the core role she was hired for. And the mistake was entirely mine. I made a few notes to myself:

Never Absorb The Resume Or The LinkedIn Profile On Face Value

Get evidence of past work or go through some testing or sample review. For engineers, this can be writing a piece of code during the interview.  For content writers it would be writing a sample piece.

Understand The Cost Of Hurrying

You can fill a role quickly but if the person is not taking your load off instantly, then chances are they are increasing the load. The relevant experience can contribute to your workload, but if a person needs to be taught everything from scratch – you will be taking time out of your job to show them the way. Depending on how fast your small business is growing, this can be challenging.

References Are Not Always Helpful

When you ask someone for a reference, of course they are going to give you a positive one. Skip this step. Especially if you are a small business without corporate guidelines.  Go with your gut and use logic.

Lots Of Trial Projects

If you can, take people on short-term projects to help you with different parts of your business. As a small business, you have to depend on freelancers and consultants for certain roles anyway. Make sure you have a good pipeline of folks helping you as freelancers. As your business grows, you will have the opportunity to offer full-time roles to these folks, and you will know them extremely well by then.

There is no perfect hire and there are no perfect hiring tips or guidelines. We can simply learn from our own mistakes and hopefully from mistakes of others.

Maze Photo via Shutterstock

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Raj Sheth


Raj Sheth Raj Sheth is the Co-Founder of Recruiterbox, an online Recruitment Software & Applicant Tracking System designed especially for small businesses. Growing a small business himself, everything he writes is based on what he has experienced in his ventures.

4 Reactions

  1. Thanks Raj for sharing! These are very helpful tips & tricks for hiring.

  2. Surely while hiring this should be in mind that either he/she deserves to be hired means he/she got the skills to do the job and definitely relying only on references is not positive but person with skills along with reference should be given priority as compared to one without reference.

  3. Raj, this is quite an insightful post. Keep up the good work. (P.S. Plus points for emphasizing the cost for hurried hiring.)

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