hire for a job

How to hire for a job you don’t understand

When you started your business, you thought you could handle it all yourself – sales, accounting, payroll, hiring, etc. Now, you’re not so sure. You’ve found yourself struggling – and truth be told, you don’t understand some of the nuances of certain jobs.

So, how do you hire for a job when you don’t understand the job itself? You think you need an accountant (or HR person, or IT specialist, or name-your-position here), but where do you begin?

As tempting as it is to go straight to the job boards and post the position, don’t get ahead of yourself. You need to do a little research first.

Start here: Conduct a job analysis.

The job analysis will outline what this person needs to do and how it impacts the direction of the company. Ask yourself: How will this hire grow my business or benefit my customers? While you go through this exercise, you should be constantly justifying the expense.

1. Determine the need.

One of the traps that many businesses fall into is they need extra head count and hire for the busy season, but three months later, they don’t have any work to keep the person busy or challenged.

Or, let’s say you think you need to hire someone to build your website, and maybe do some “IT stuff.” Unless you define what that “stuff” is, you may be stuck with an unproductive employee – not because they want to be, but because they’ve run out of “stuff” to do. Maybe it’s time to consider outsourcing or part-time help.

2. Create a job description.

What do you want this person to do? What are the position’s goals? When you don’t know much about the job and what’s required, you need to determine what is accepted in the marketplace.

A job description is a legal document, so make sure it is compliant with Title VII regulations that outline nondiscriminatory practices. For example: Don’t use gender-specific words such as “salesman” when you need a sales professional. Also, while you’re looking closely at the wording, get rid of the jargon. While you may you call your salespeople “bottom line improvement specialists,” potential candidates are searching for “sales” jobs.

3. List job qualifications.

This task goes hand-in-hand with developing the job description. This is where you get specific about the background, experience, education and knowledge the employee will need to perform the job.

The American Job Center Network has a helpful guide that goes into detail about qualifications, and even discusses salaries. Use this to help you know what to look for when poring over resumes.

After you know the standard descriptions and qualifications, it’s time to research various job boards to see what other companies are looking for. Ask yourself: “How do I stack up compared to other companies that are advertising for similar positions?”

4. Determine cost.

How will hiring and employing a new person affect the bottom line – salary, benefits, onboarding and training, for example? Evaluate from a profit and loss standpoint whether you can justify the position. Will this person’s contribution be a cost or a profit to the company?

To determine salary, you can find wage data through the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, but it may not be as accurate as you hoped. Things such as size of company, location and working conditions will affect salary ranges.

For a more accurate idea, you can pay a fee to one of the large career-posting sites and get salary information.

5. Consider the impact.

How will this person affect the company, its people and how it runs? Get buy-in from your management team and talk to the people who will be working directly with the new hire. Surely someone is currently doing the tasks that this person is being hired to do. What will that person do instead?

How might this job grow or change over time? Will this person meet your needs now and in the future? You think you need a bookkeeper now, but as the business grows, will you ultimately need a controller?

Who will this person report to? Will they work in the office or remotely?

This is a lot to consider – and you don’t have to do it alone. Get some input from the rest of the team. And, if it seems daunting, you can outsource the recruiting process.

Can you skip the research?

The short answer is no. Oftentimes, if you rush to hire for a job, you’ll find that:

  1. The hiring process will take longer because you haven’t narrowed your focus of candidates. This may seem contradictory, because you think you’ll get more resumes if you have a more generalized job description. While you might get more resumes, you’ll get fewer of the ones that fit your needs.
  2. You overhire or underhire. You’ll take anything that walks through the door that looks close to what you need when you hire for a job. It’s tempting, but it’s not the wisest move. If you overhire, you run the risk of the person leaving the company because they’re not challenged. If you underhire, you’re still doing the job AND you’re paying someone who isn’t performing.
  3. You haven’t really solved your problem. Your hire is based on the company’s challenges and needs of today without assessing what may transpire in six months or a year.

Next steps: hiring process

Are you ready to move forward and hire for a job? Let’s check:

  • You need full- or part-time help.
  • You’ve justified the cost.
  • You can pay this person.
  • You have buy-in from management.
  • You’ve written the job description and qualifications.

OK, if all your boxes are checked, you’re ready to get the search and interview process started.

If you’re not working through a recruiter, who will handle the details for you, you will want to use one of the well-known national job boards. You can become a “user” on these general-listing sites to post jobs and review resumes.

If you want to get more specific, you can advertise your opening through an industry organization to speak directly to your target audience. For example, if you seek an engineer, you might go to the National Society of Professional Engineers; or for a marketing person, you might try the American Marketing Association. But, if you’re going to spend time and money, focus on the all-encompassing national career boards first.

Now that you’re waiting for the resumes to start rolling in, you should ask yourself one more time: How will this person make life better for our customers, our employees or the long-term success of the company? If they don’t fit into the mission statement, you probably shouldn’t make an offer.

If you’re still at a loss for how to hire for a job, especially one you don’t understand, read our e-book, Building a better team: how to attract, retain and hire top talent.

Building a Better Team: How to Attract, Recruit and Hire Top Talent, Issue 5
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