Hire Slow, But Hurry Up!

Business owners can make better hires by applying basic sales principles to their recruiting activity. Effective hiring requires a process.
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I firmly believe in the adage, hire slow and fire fast.  If every employer followed this philosophy, more people would find fulfillment in their work and more businesses would create extraordinarily awesome customer experiences.

However, in an environment with 3.5% unemployment and a shrinking labor force, employers have to find a way to speed up their decision-making process if they want good choices.

Consider this an urgent message to small business owners who want to grow in the next decade:  Your time is running out!  You have to hire faster and smarter than the INC 500 and the Fortune 1000 if you’re going to have any chance in the competition for talent. If you’re already a member of the INC 500, kudos to you and don’t take it personally.

Every employer that my firm supports falls into the same pattern.  They act with a sense of urgency after deciding to hire for a given position, but then take too long to choose who to hire.  As a result, they’re often losing their first and second choice candidates.

And this isn’t because they’re being extra careful or too deliberative.  The culprit is almost always a poorly designed hiring process.  Like running in the sand, it inevitably limits how fast they can make a decision in spite of their desire to fill the position.

Why do small businesses need to care about this?  Because there are about 1,000,000 more job openings than available workers in the U.S. right now, and new positions are being created every day.

Here’s how to make hiring decisions faster.

  • Do the Pre-Work.  Establish the hiring criteria before you need to hire anyone.  Whether you’re a company of one or have a 50-person workforce – you want to define the profile of the ideal employee for every role you foresee in your business.  The worst time to figure this out is after you’ve started recruiting because you can’t hit a target when you’re blindfolded.
  • Set a Hard Deadline.  It’s not enough to decide that you want to hire a new employee.  Establishing a real deadline by which you must have a person on board is not only good business practice, it also helps you sell the job to the candidate.  People are more trusting and responsive to offers if they know when the decision will be made.
  • Remember that Hiring is Selling.  We don’t make our customers wait when they want to buy our product.  So why do employers make candidates wait for days and sometimes weeks after an interview?  Simply being responsive and courteous to all candidates will increase the chance that the one you want to hire will accept your offer.

Finally, treat yourself with the respect and trust that you’ve earned.  Too many business owners I know experience a greater amount of self-doubt when hiring employees than in any other aspect of their business.  You make hard decisions all of the time and this one is neither more difficult nor less reversible than those.

Apply these simple practices to build your confidence with hiring.  And while you’re at it, hurry up!