Things to Consider Before Hiring

Business women discussing things to consider before hiring people in 2021

Inspiration is the most fire tool for “unblocking” yourself.

We’re using air quotes here because you can easily replace “unblocking” with a multitude of obstacles—especially after sheltering in place for more than a year. The pandemic, social justice movements, and TikTok has changed the small business landscape. You may have been making decisions on the fly and triaging probs as they come up, but we’re finally making it through the worst. You made it, you survived, you should be so proud! Maybe you feel like you’re running on fumes now, but inspiration is exactly what you need to fill up your energetic gas tank. Let’s start by peeping out your 2021 headcount.

Truth be told, you are ready to next-level your business and light this year on fire. However, the business of recruiting has changed, specifically in response to working remotely, inclusive and diverse hiring processes, and life’s unpredictability. As Forrest’s mama used to say, “Life is like a box full of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Thanks for the wisdom Mama Gump and RIP you, beautiful fictitious soul.

In the world of the unknown, all we can do is make predictions and keep in mind the best practices to hire smart. The smartest first step in hiring is to determine if you really need to!

Before we go into how hiring has changed, keep in mind that just because things seem to be turning around doesn’t mean you can let your guard down. Remember those massive mistakes small biz owners made that led them to not being able to pay rent? Slow down. Take some time to determine if you really need to hire or if you can find other options to getting the work done while keeping your liquidity risk low.

Newsflash! Current Events Will Affect Your Hiring Process

 So, you’re ready to bring someone on to help with the books. Or maybe, you need an expert taste-tester with all your new cupcake flavors. Whoever you’re looking for, hiring new employees requires you to stay informed. When you’re planning to expand your headcount, you need to know what’s going on at a macro level in the world of hiring.  Here are some big ones to consider:

Virtual Reality

In the pandemic aftermath, everything’s gone virtual. What does this mean for the hiring process? Virtual recruiting is here to stay. Companies have gotten in the rhythm of moving their hiring process virtually, and it’s cost and time effective for both sides. This means as businesses work to finesse the tech side of things, they’ll be testing out what works and what doesn’t. Businesses also have the opportunity to hire from a more diverse talent pool. But let’s backtrack for a sec. Just because virtual is the new “it” girl, that doesn’t mean it’s the end-all, be-all. There may be some instances, let’s say for higher level roles, where it makes sense to have an in-person interview. But know this, the virtual hiring process won’t be leaving anytime soon.

A Whole New World

People are starting to get their “Fauci Ouchy” with the rollout of vaccines. It’s created excitement and hope for change (more business, more music festivals, more hugs IRL). Many companies are gearing up for their 2021 headcount. Due to COVID, nearly 70% of organizations have furloughed or laid off employees, however they will be looking to backfill roles that were cut out of the picture. As of right now, that possibility looks pretty bright. As we’ve adapted to the daily happenings this past year, so has the collective workforce. New skill sets will be sought out, especially small business who find themselves spread thin when things ramp back up. Predictably, there will be an increase in job openings in the near future.

Hire Like A Smarty Cookie

Did someone say cookie? Because yes, we’ll take 5 dozen. Not only are you ridiculously good-looking, you’ve got the brains to run a small business. But, do you have the man/woman power to do so efficiently? You’re only one human being (and an amazing one at that). As much as we all wish we could grow more limbs to multitask, we can’t handle everything on our own.

For example, maybe customer service isn’t your thing (don’t blame you) because a catty customer can be a real bummer. You would much rather be analyzing data to maximize profit or knitting cat booties (cute!). You are the brains of the operation, and you inspire your employees to give it their all. That’s your forte. So that means hire smart.

Look for people whose strengths are your weaknesses. Timothy over there has thick skin and can cool down any rage-induced client with the right combination of shame and charm. Mary-Beth calculates numbers in her head for fun and has over 20 years of accounting experience. Fresh out of grad school, Bethany tweets faster than you can blink. Look for those hidden gems that can bring your business to the next level.

Get the Hiring Play-By-Play

Here’s the deal. Don’t just go into the hiring process blindly. You’ll need to have a plan down for the sake of you, the applicant, your team, and the company.

  • Before beginning the hiring process, plan what roles need to be filled. In order to make these decisions, you can measure the volume of work that needs to be done. Once the requirement for a role has been determined, either through a vacancy or an increase of workload, the hiring manager (or perhaps you) will put out a call for the role.
  • Once it’s set that your business is hiring, review the existing job specification or create a new one. Outline the role as clearly as possible in order to filter out applicants who know what you are looking for. By doing so, the roles requirements are understood by both parties.
  • How do you recruit applicants? Some common ways are through an agency website, company website, or on online job boards like Indeed or Glassdoor. The more you make the position known, the more volume of applicants you will receive which is a good thing since you have a higher chance of finding your ideal candidate.
  • Now that the search is on, your business will need to conduct interviews. If there is a late number of applicants, it’s quicker to use an applicant tracking system (ATS) . An ATS is a tracking system based around keywords that match the relevant role. The applications with the highest keyword matches go to the top of the haystack. The system also keeps candidates updated on their application status. An ATS is a great way to save time and makes the hiring process
  • After choosing your interview candidates, send out invitations. Now it’s showtime. Since we are conscious of the pandemic, you may want to opt for either a phone or virtual interview. In order to evaluate candidates, you can also prepare an assessment of a task to see how they might do. This does not have to be a task specific to the role, it can also be a case study or psychometric test. Another option is to ask competency-based questions. While interviewing, consider the long-term growth of the applicant as it’s preferred to someone who stays with the company for a while. And take notes! You want to remember those standout applicants!
  • After your team has reviewed the results, it’s time to pick a candidate. If there are differing opinions on who to accept, take some more time to review other credentials. You can then send an offer to the candidate and take them through the on-boarding process of your company. Also, whoo-hoo congrats to the new employee!

Reviews Are In

Don’t be hasty when looking to fill a position. You want to hire the right person, not just anyone. It’s helpful to have multiple opinions from different points of view—someone might notice something you missed. With a team of reviewers, you get a more holistic picture of who would best fit in the company. Another way to gather a variety of opinions is to ask references, especially from past employers. If you are able to get in contact with them, ask guided questions to get specific information. It’s not being nosy, it’s called “gathering info,” a key part of the hiring process.

The Rainbow Connection

Isn’t Kermit the Frog the best? This song gets us right here, every single time. *points at heart* Recent racial justice movements have prompted stronger stances on social issues. More than ever, companies are highlighting ways they support diversity and inclusion as part of their brand ethos. You can’t claim to be a woke company when there are no people of color on your team or in your marketing. This also extends to how companies respond to turbulent times and partner with organizations to make a real difference. If this hasn’t been at the forefront of your business, take the time to make adjustments (hey, we’re all learning here). Candidates look for companies who take a strong stance on social issues. Addressing diversity and inclusion during the hiring process is one step towards turning the tide in the right direction.

Reminder: Needs Over Wants

Let’s keep it real. It would be cool to hire someone new, but not everyone has the budget to do so. Your all-star candidate has a PhD, speaks 8 languages, and bakes scones every Monday morning—however, you have barely made enough money to make it through the last few months. Your current desperation level is equal to a frat boy headed to Mexico for spring break.

Take a moment to think through your financial capabilities. Does it make sense to pay $60k a year for their position if you can’t afford it? But wait, maybe it is because you won’t have to pay overtime for all the extra hours your current employees are putting in. Well, it might not be that simple. Ultimately, it comes down to the numbers. This is where you consult your business dev folks, bookkeeper, etc. to see what you can afford. If it’s a reach, don’t hire. If it isn’t unnecessary, don’t hire. If you are stretching the budget, don’t hire. Remember, the golden rule of hiring is to hire smart.

Make your head “count”

Life can be a wild ride—let’s take a look at Forrest Gump again. No one thought he would become a ping-pong legend, own a successful shrimp company, or own millions in Apple stock. We also didn’t expect Lt. Dan to get his sh*t together (hey, if he can do it). If there’s something that we can learn from this cult classic, it’s to run away when things get tough. NoOoOo! That’s not the moral of the story; it’s that life is unexpected, but human beings are resilient. Seriously, the end is near (and by “end” we are referring to COVID-19), we still need to take it as a lesson to be smart about big business decisions.

This is the year to become the most You-est You, sis. The world will start to employ some powerful bippity-boppity-boo to make things work in your favor—as long as you hire smart with your 2021 headcount. The world is fragile, but you are multi-dimensional light prism entering the new world. It’s time to figure out the figures, read the research, and consult the professionals. *raises hand* Y’know us, Alchemy Accounting and we’ve got your back. Soon enough, we’ll get you shooting laser beams out of your eyes and making it rain from the sky. Kidding! Or are we?

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Michelle Cooper

Michelle Cooper is a powerhouse entrepreneur, CEO of Alchemy Accounting & Bookkeeping, author of Confessions of a Money Rock Star, Your MoneyDate Journal, and co-author of the collaborative book, Women Rising. She has helped many business owners climb out of entrepreneurial poverty into the land of profit.