Your small business has been around for a few years, and it’s starting to thrive. You’re past the days of struggling through slow months, and now you have room to make a first-time hire or bring on a few more full-time employees.
When you’re a small, growing business, what kind of job candidate should you seek?
The answer depends on the needs of the position you’re trying to fill—and, obviously, what you can pay. If you’re looking, for instance, for someone with just basic secretarial skills, you may be able to hire someone with minimal experience and pay less. But if you’re looking to fill, for example, an IT specialist spot, you should probably be bringing in candidates with, at minimum, a few years of experience—which means you need to pay well.
Whatever you do, hire an individual who can help your company continue to grow. We’ll explore what you should be looking for in a job candidate who can help you do just that.
Look for a Job Candidate with:
- A Higher Education—Regardless of whether you’re trying to hire a secretary or an IT specialist, try to hire someone with a higher education. A professional with an associate’s degree or higher, or who has completed relevant training at trade school, shows that they aspire to more. That’s what your company aspires to, and you want to see that same spirit in your employees.
- Prior Work Experience—If your business can afford it, hire a professional who has worked elsewhere—not just had an internship, but has held a job in their field for at least nine months or more. Such a candidate has likely cut their teeth and made mistakes with another employer, so they will come to you better prepared to tackle your business’s challenges. That may mean they’ll make fewer mistakes when they work for you.
- Awards—Has the candidate won awards or other commendations at work or in school, and if so, what did they earn? Their accolades may provide further insight into what they do exceptionally well, and they demonstrate that the candidate is a high achiever, which is what you want.
- Multiple Relevant References—When a candidate shows multiple relevant references—bosses, professors in their major, professionals they’ve worked with closely—it’s a sign that they’ve performed well in their job(s) and/or in school. They have nothing to hide. Resumes that say “references upon request” or list people from long ago with no connection to their current profession may be a red flag that the candidate is hiding something they don’t want you to know about their job experience.
- A Great Attitude—The candidate must have an upbeat, positive attitude. Do they seem enthusiastic about the job on offer during the interview? Do they seem like they would enjoy working for your company and with you? Do you feel like YOU would enjoy having them work for you?
- Appropriate Dress—Did the candidate show up in interview-appropriate garb? This may seem like a silly thing to point out, but you might be surprised to learn that people have shown up for professional interviews and job fairs for formal jobs (we’re not talking about artistic positions) in T-shirts with crazy sayings. I have seen it with my own eyes. Your candidate’s inappropriate clothing may not be that obvious, but tell-tale warning signs could lie in the color of their suit. For instance, a loud color could indicate someone who may be less likely to listen to authority. Maybe you like the idea of having someone working for you who speaks their mind, but just be aware of what you want.
In addition to what you’re looking for in a candidate, keep in mind that a professional worth hiring will be expecting you to meet some critical criteria too. As an up-and-coming business person looking to take your company higher, you’ll need to offer competitive pay and a decent compensation package—health insurance and possibly a 401(k)—to get the best employee you can afford. If you don’t already offer health insurance and other benefits but are ready to hire, sit down with a financial professional first before you put up your job ad. Get all of those ducks in a row so that YOU can look attractive to job candidates; again, they not only need to impress you, but you must impress them.
Remember, it’s a big world out there with companies competing with you for talent. If you want to hire someone who can help your company grow, you need to be prepared to compete for and win their hand so that you can both walk down the aisle toward a beautiful business marriage.
It’s all part of careering.