5 Ways to Keep Hiring Disasters at Bay

Nobody has to tell you how important hiring choices can be for a business- especially for small and midsize businesses (SMBs). A great hire can propel a business to new heights, while a terrible hire can result in huge losses of time, money, opportunity, and even the very reputation of a business.

In one recent study, 95 percent of companies surveyed admitted to making bad hiring decisions every year. Not surprisingly, in an Oracle/Inc. study of SMB leaders, talent issues ranked as their single most worrisome concern.

Sadly, so many terrible hires could have been avoided by taking a few relatively simple steps. With proper planning and a strategic and holistic approach to attracting talent, SMBs can greatly minimize the chance of shooting themselves in the foot and crippling their business for years afterward.

1. Understand and Articulate Brand Values

In today’s business climate, where teamwork and cooperation are so essential, new hires need more than definable skill sets. They need the soft skills to help them flourish with the company’s culture.

To ensure a good fit, the company’s culture needs to be articulated through clear and meaningful values.

Yext, a leader in digital location management, is a fixture on the Inc. 5000 due in great part to its ability to articulate company values and then live by those values.

On their website, they lay out their values in a clear and concise way:

Learn fast. Think big. Get stuff done. These are the three Yext value pillars that have guided our team from 5 to 500 employees with 5 offices around the world.

Innovation comes from not accepting the world as it is. Yexters are constantly looking to improve and push the boundaries of both our products and our abilities.

By articulating their core values, Yext is able to attract the creative, often quirky employees who are great fits for their company.

2. Create Powerful “Careers” Pages

Job-seekers do their homework, and much of that homework will be done online. They will look at your website and those of your competitors.

Your website’s “careers” page is the perfect place to present your company at its best and provide clear messages about the kind of people needed.

For example, video testimonials by current employees can serve as a magnet for like-minded job seekers and as a stop sign to those who just wouldn’t fit.

Among the businesses doing this beautifully are Spotify and Eventbrite.

Another great example is Oracle. When people come to the Oracle “Careers” homepage, they are met with the question, “You want to change the world, don’t you?”

This challenge can act as a deterrent for someone just looking for a paycheck. But for someone with ambition, talent, and self-confidence, it can inspire.

3. Get Ahead of the Game

Statistics show that most bad hires are made when companies scramble to replace a current employee. Unprepared and under the gun, they are forced to make speedy decisions based on panic (and yes, even fear). This is a leading cause of hiring errors.

A cure for this is to be constantly keeping an eye out for new talent, even when you’re not looking to fill a particular opening.

“Always be hiring,” preaches Les McKeown, CEO of Predictable Success. “Be proactive. Go to LinkedIn, and find people doing great things in your industry. Make a hit list, and find the people who will be your future managers.”

4. Make Sure the Job Description is Crystal Clear

Job descriptions are like profiles on dating sites. If you’re not clear or not honest about who you are and what you’re looking for, then a bad match is almost guaranteed.

When it comes to crafting a job description, remember the K.I.S.S. principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

The expectations, qualifications, responsibilities, and scope of the position should be laid out clearly. This should not be a wish list, but an itemization of the specific skills, certifications, and experience required to be successful in the position. If particular skill sets are required―especially with technology and coding skills―make sure a particular skill-set is listed.

5. Use Data to Figure out What Works for You

Every hire you’ve made in the past brings with it a host of data points. You know their educational background and have information on every place they’ve worked in the past; you know their age at the time of hire, how they responded to specific questions in the hiring process, and a hundred other tidbits of information unique to that person.

By analyzing the data generated by employees across the business, companies can begin to learn the combinations of personal traits, qualities, and backgrounds that lead to the best hires and those which don’t. Companies that don’t employ these human resources (HR) analytics tools are at a distinct disadvantage when competing for talent. They are basically operating blind, forced to go on gut reactions and first impressions during the interview process.

This causes many potential great hires to fall through the cracks, either due to a bad first impression or a bad case of the nerves during the interview. The best decisions require data, and that goes for every decision that SMB leaders make―from their next new hire to the new cloud-based human capital management (HCM) cloud software package they want to buy.

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