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Finding your next hire

November 2, 2009

It seems like it should be so easy. Maybe you want to find someone just like the person who is leaving.  Or maybe you’re thinking thank goodness that person left and are looking for just the opposite. Or maybe you just created the position.  Whatever the reason, this hire is important and you want to find just the right skills and personality.

I love my clients that call and say “I need a guy”. My response, “Okay, I know a guy…he’s good…..” And, maybe he is, but is he good at what you want? So, I need a little more than that to find your guy – or gal as it may be.

The easiest thing to do is to create a list and use it to evaluate candidates by adding a second column to note whether they miss, meet or exceed your requirements. It will make everything so much easier and it will keep your interviews consistent and somewhat objective. Also, write down what the person will be doing – projects that are available now and in the future and the core responsibilities. This helps keep your message consistent.

Okay – so the easiest part is the list of hard skills required/expected. Here is  my list that I like to go through with each client:  

Skills required – required, preferred and alternate skills. Please do not list everything your team uses as a requirement. There is nothing crazier than reviewing a position that has a list of 20 skills. I mean, really? For most positions, just concentrate on the key languages and concepts. If they are good in those, then they can most likely learn the rest.

Degree required – Is it necessary and why? I have a lot of managers who feel that the experience of college makes them a little different, or maybe the concepts/theories that you don’t learn on-the-job make them better. If you require it, just understand why in case you come across that great candidate that doesn’t have it. I see too many companies that close the door on a great candidate that didn’t get the opportunity to complete a degree or didn’t have the resources to go to a top school. It may be that your experience has taught you one way or the other, but try not to make too many assumptions about the person based on the degree.

Prior experience – what will this person have done in their past that will make them good for you? Do they need certain industry, application or company experience? Maybe they came from a small, medium or large company? Maybe they worked for a competitor? Maybe they have worked in a lot of different places and might be able to bring some new ideas to your team? I would look at the successful people on your team and try to see if and what prior experience made them better than the rest.

Travel – how much will be required? Southeast? National? International?

Hours – Telecommuting options – this is an area where you need to be clear and consistent. Candidates may have limitations or your company may have certain requirements. You may have flexibility but don’t promise too much to lure in a candidate. If your team consistently works 60 hours a week, you need to share that. If you don’t, you’ll invest time and money in a new hire who will later quit and it will cost you more time and more money.

Compensation – know the details such as salary, bonus and benefits. Also – are there things that candidates can trade? I have negotiated offers with a lower salary but more vacation or a telecommuting option. It is good to know what flexibility you may have for a great person.

Next time I’ll talk about the tougher skills, the subjective stuff, the soft skills.

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