For a startup, hiring is like having a bottle of champagne without a corkscrew. Sometimes you have to make do with whatever you got -- especially in the early days of the business.
The wrong tool, however, can break bottles and pocketbooks. In business, the wrong hire can hurt your business and bottom line.
Replacing an employee today can cost more than 200 percent of their salary – not the kind of money most startups can spare.
It’s why in hiring, we talk a lot about how critical it is to know what you need to get the right people in the door, but we don't typically think how revisiting job descriptions and hiring criteria mid-search can help avoid this.
Nor is it something we have to actively make time for when everyone is so busy.
This is why we’ve put together a strategy for hiring teams to help figure out what's really needed in their hires. Need inspiration for your own approach? Check out the ideas below.
How to figure out and prioritize what you really need in your hires
A challenge for most early companies is that they don’t know what help they really need.
“Sometimes, you think you know what you want and then you go after it,” says Jeff Dulmage, director of talent strategy, Hunt Club. “Once you get involved, or too far down in the search, you might discover what you’re looking for isn’t a fit for what you actually need.”
When forming a job description or thinking about the role they want, it’s incredibly easy to want ten or twenty “must-haves” because there is so much to do. Often, startup employees are doing the work of two or three people, so the environment and the budget dictate what’s needed.
“There’s just more work, functions, and responsibilities needed than these companies have the headcount for and the number of resources available,” says Jeff. “Other times the person you’re going after doesn’t align with what’s needed for the stage of the business. And, usually what’s on paper is what the client actually wants because those are the needs they have to fill. . . eventually. But I think what is so important is to always ask ‘What do we need right now?’ This is helpful in deciding whether or not your criteria has too many things in it for one person in a single role."
Here are three strategies to help prioritize what to hire for when you have so many needs:
1.Ben Franklin method (+a new step)
The simplest approach to sort out what's important, is to just take a sheet of paper and cut it in half. Then list out what you need and what you can live without for now.
Take it a step further and assign a points value for each of those needs, usually giving them a point between 1-10. Then you rank the needs based on the highest points and what’s needed immediately.
2. Eisenhower Box method
Another idea to use to help prioritize what you need is the Eisenhower Box approach. Using this framework, you can categorize each of your traits/characteristics/job functions/responsibilities into one of these four quadrants within a few minutes to help you figure out what needs are more pressing in your hires.
3. The Bullseye method
This is how we do it at Hunt Club, and it's a precise methodology to figure out what to look for in hires, and then clearly see what they have and they don’t.
When we talk to candidates we rank them most to least and the more they have gets them closer to the center of the bullseye.
“As an external -- and outside -- talent partner, we help our clients prioritize what’s most important by asking things like ‘What do you need to hire for today?’ and ‘What can you get by without?’” says Jeff. “Then we dig into the tangible and intangible skills from there, but asking those upfront questions is important because it takes a lot of awareness and collaboration to figure out.”
But, Jeff says, the Bullseye candidate profile is just the first part. It’s important to take a step back, mid-process, and even consider recalibrating what you’re going after.
Checking in mid-process, after the first set of interview rounds, is an ideal time to reassess your hiring needs. You have a good amount of data based on the people you screened and interviewed, that you can quickly do an assessment to see that you’re on the right track.
“There’s a reason certain types of professionals don’t have the sales skills as a salesperson,” says Jeff. “We’ve found it incredibly helpful here at Hunt Club to check-in halfway through any search to make sure everything lines up.”
If you’re feeling frustrated or feel like you’re running into a brick wall, then it might be a good idea to stop and reassess what you’re going after. Here are some tell-tale signs you might need to recalibrate your criteria:
- When your needs are too great
- When the compensation isn’t aligned with the market
- When someone’s location is an issue
- When you uncover a new skills-gap
- When you discover there’s no room for growth in the role
In the end
If you can help weigh the risks of what your candidates have versus what they don’t, be flexible in your hiring criteria and set up a tight hiring process that includes revisiting your needs, you will be on your way to hiring great people for your team in no time. Need help hiring talent? Drop us a note and find out how we can help.