Entrepreneurs

Three Things Everyone Does Wrong When Hiring

One of the most exciting moments in every entrepreneurs journey is when your wild idea becomes real enough that you get to make your first hire. Hiring is one of the most important jobs a CEO has, second only to keeping the people you hire motivated. Given the importance of hiring, you would think that most founder/CEOs would actively work to become great at it. Unfortunately, even the most brilliant leaders often make three simple mistakes when hiring. Understanding these mistakes, and being careful to avoid them, is more important than ever before now that we’re in the “big quit era” where thousands of Americans are quitting their jobs and many of them are dropping out of the workforce all together. 

1. Don’t Hire People Like You

Often the hiring process looks like a middle school cafeteria where everyone only talks to people who look and think like them. Part of this is subconscious—people are naturally drawn to people they feel they can relate to. Another part of it is strategic—many leaders believe they should only hire based on referrals from their network. The challenge with this hiring methodology is that you quickly build a company of people who think exactly like you. This leads to a lack of diversity in every sense of the word, diversity of thought, race, gender and so forth. Diversity isn’t just important to check the corporate social responsibility box. A lack of diversity has been proven to actively hurt businesses. Customers have varied interests. If your company is dominated by a monoculture, you won’t be able successfully create a product that resonates with a diverse audience. Instead of relying just on referrals from your network, take a step back to carefully examine the strengths and weaknesses of yourself and your team (if you have one). Once you’ve clearly identified the gaps in skillsets and perspectives, think about what job boards and networks are best positioned to recruit those types of candidates.

2. Search For The Storyline, Not The Keywords

Hiring is extremely time consuming. For many startup founders, it may seem tempting to use an AI-based service that promises to sort résumés based on keywords. The danger of this is that an algorithm will most certainly miss the nuances. Say you’re looking for a digital marketing manager, and decide you want “SEM” and “SEO” as your keywords. What if you get a résumé from an exceptional candidate with a résumé full of her experiences with “digital advertising” and “search engine marketing”—two terms that mean the same thing but could easily be missed without the human eye. This same logic also applies when interviewing candidates. Too often leaders ask candidates to “walk me through your résumé” which is a waste of your time and theirs. Instead, try asking questions to get at the heart of their experiences like, “what was your greatest accomplishment and your greatest mistake at your past three jobs” or “when I call up your former boss, how will she rate you on a 1-10 scale and why?” Questions like these will help you understand the story behind the person’s résumé. 

 3. Sell The Candidate On You

Too many founders spend hours grilling candidates only to get to the end of the hiring process and find that the candidates don’t want the job. Hiring is a two-way street. You’re looking for the perfect person for your business, and that person is also looking for a job that feels satisfying and rewarding. This is particularly critical when speaking with younger candidates. Many Millennials and Gen-Zers believe that happiness is the new success, and meaning is the new money. Make sure that throughout the interview process you’re letting the candidate get to know you, and sharing your enthusiasm for your company culture and vision. Finally, once you’ve extended an offer letter, do everything you can to spend real time with the candidate, talking through any questions or concerns they may have, so that they feel fully prepared and excited to take the role. 

 Starting a company is like embarking on a canoe trip. You have to build the boat, aka the product, point the ship in the right direction with your compass, or vision, and get the right people in the right seats rowing in the same direction. Even if you have the best boat and most ambitious, high-powered vision, you’ll never reach your destination with the right people rowing together smoothly. It’s worth taking the time to search outside your network, ask in-depth questions, and get candidates excited about joining your company. Hopefully these three tips will help you get the perfect people to power you even faster towards your goals.

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