Why HR Matters to Small Companies (#3)

Jul
28

Posted by harryeross

This is the third article on my experience coming into a small company as their first Human Resources leader. 

Getting the Right Talent

When I first started with my company as their first HR Leader, one of major priorities was making sure we had the right people, in the right seats on the right bus. As you can imagine, when we began that process,  everything went just as planned and we never had a hiccup recruiting and filling our open positions. Not.

We had unexpected turn, sometimes at the worst possible moment, and had to swivel and change priorities many times. In my first six months, 70% of my time was devoted to some form of hiring- researching  candidates, posting positions, phone screening, setting up interviews and on-boarding. Repeat.

My professional background did not include a lot of recruiting, so I had to start from scratch on building a network in our market that included sales, marketing, and even creative fields like Graphic Design. The first place I went to was my existing network, reaching out to people I had previously worked with for referrals.

My next step was to use LinkedIn, and searching out people that checked as many boxes off our job description as possible. I also looked for people that were outside the boxes, but had interesting backgrounds that might fit. I posted the jobs on LinkedIn, and waded through the hundreds of  resumes that followed.

Phone screening was next for candidates with potential. I talked to a lot of people, and learned something from each and every one of them. The hardest part of this process was when you found a really experienced, intelligent, funny candidate who was totally wrong for our job. Argh!

If they made it past me, the next step was a phone screen with the hiring manager. As I am not an expert in Marketing or Sales, the hiring manager would get into the detail of their skills, abilities and experience. As you can guess, more often than not, the candidate was not the right fit for our job. Back to the drawing board.

And then it would happen. The stars would align, the heavens would open up, and the right candidate with the right experience, the right personality, and the right salary expectation would appear. Hallelujah!

Our final step was an in-person interview in our offices. We operate under the philosophy that the more people that were involved in the selection process, the better. We steered away from group interviews, and set up one-on-one interviews with all of our Senior Leaders and the Hiring Manager. I was usually the wrap up interviewer so that I could get the candidate’s opinion on how things went, and really sell all the great benefits about working for a small company.

There were rules that we all agreed to as we compared notes and made recommendations: If you made a call out, either negative or positive, you had to give examples of why you thought that way. Everything had to be bounced against our values (1. Bring passion every day, 2. Be genuine and humble, 3. Deliver results). And last, if anyone had a doubt, the candidate was probably a “no”.

The one non-negotiable was if they were not seen as a culture fit, we would not hire them, even if they were qualified. And, even if we were desperate. In a small company, the wrong personality can destroy the balance. There is nowhere to hide in a small office, so we all had to fit in.

By staying true to this process, we have hired some amazing people, and our company remains a great place to work. I know we will have turnover down the road, but I feel we have a strong process in place to find the next great member of our team.

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