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Want to Find Great Employees?

by Jim Kaspari

Many business owners think it’s impossible to find great employees.  Many of us have tried and kissed a lot of frogs.  The hiring and training process can be frustrating and become a big waste of time and money if done wrong. This article will outline a proven model and process I’ve used over and over again to find amazing contract workers or employees.  Yes, this was even done in the remote area of Truckee, Lake Tahoe – a legendary land of Peter Pan playful adults famous for not showing up to work on a powder day.

Here’s an introduction to the keys to success in finding great employees:

  1. Know that it is possible.

  2. Crystallize exactly what you want.

  3. Play full out.

  4. Don’t compromise.

The challenge starts with thinking that it is simply not possible to find great employees.  With a belief like that, it actually becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.  We don’t try hard enough, we don’t market effectively and end up settling and compromising on someone we know won’t work out in the long run just to get someone to help out.  It does take hard work and attention to detail to find the perfect employee.  The time and effort pays off in the long run when we do find exactly what we want and sometimes someone that exceeds our expectations.  I’m not saying this is a foolproof method.  Some people may leave or not work out.  This process significantly increases our chance of success and increases the longevity of team retention.

Other challenges include not being able to pay enough in an area with a high cost of living.  Truckee, Lake Tahoe, the San Francisco  Bay area are all examples.  I have found amazing and affordable team members in areas like this.  The key again is knowing it’s possible.  One person was married and her husband made enough to cover all their expenses.  She is a brilliant young woman and wanted to grow, learn, contribute to clients and wasn’t worried so much about the pay.  Other possibilities include sharp retired people, college interns that want experience and learning for their resume, or people with jobs that want some extra money.

An interesting fact about the economy is that in recessions, the talent pool actually grows and people are willing to work for less.  So when business is tough, workers are more plentiful and more affordable.

Step One – Know that it is possible

We’ve all heard the woo woo positive mindset law of attraction philosophies.  I believe that positive thoughts, visualization, affirmations and energy works.  Here’s how I would represent my philosophy in words:  Law of atTRACTION.  Notice that TRACTION and ACTION are in capital letters.  That’s because it starts with believing it’s possible, then the right actions and attention create the results we want.  It takes creative persistence and commitment to getting what we want without giving up.

The Wright brothers never would have flown if they didn’t have the strong conviction and belief that they could.  Human beings are incredible in this respect.  Imagine in the 1950’s when somebody said “hey, let’s put a man on the moon”.  I imagine most people laughed.  But at some point, someone else said, “hey, I think this is possible” and NASA was formed and we actually made something ludicrous sounding happen!  Humans do it all the time.  Check out science fiction books sometime.  Crazy ideas like a computerized telecommunications device (Dick Tracy 1946) on someone’s wrist are now available on Amazon.com.

So, when your brain or anyone else says it’s impossible to find great employees, simply don’t believe them.

Step Two – Crystallize exactly what you want

In order to get exactly the employee of our dreams, we need to know exactly what we want.  What do you want someone to help you with?  What can you delegate and trust another to do?  What skills, knowledge and experience do they need?  How can you collect all your thoughts in a systematic and efficient way to come up with a clear job description and ad?

Start with journaling your activities over a two week period.  Simply write down exactly what you did, how long you did it for.  One great thing about journaling is that it’s one of the best ways to stop bad habits.  Did you know that the number one weight loss tool is journaling everything you eat and drink?  Then go over this list and put a star or dollar sign next to the activities that close sales or generate new or repeat business.  Those are leveraged activities and very good for you to continue to do and even do more of.  Then highlight or put a “D” next to those activities you can delegate.  The next step is to go to your To Do list and see what you’ve been procrastinating on.  These are also good things to add to the job description.  Then add tasks, skills and abilities to your job description of things you simply want help with.

Your job description can have an introductory paragraph of a broad description of what the job is.  Then detail out the tasks, level of experience and quality you’re looking for.  Consider how you could measure the level you’re looking for.  For example, a bookkeeping company might want a bookkeeper that types 100 words per minute with 99 percent accuracy.  Then add a final paragraph for qualitative traits you’re looking for.  I’ve found that it is very difficult to train someone to be self-motivated, have a positive attitude or to be a proactive problem solver.  These things should be in the job description and vetted in the interview/testing process.

Step Three – Play full out (market like crazy)

Now that you know exactly what you want, it’s time to let the world know.  Turn your clear job description into a compelling attractive ad by adding a few key elements.  Start off with a super exciting Ad title.  Instead of “Assistant Wanted” try something like “Great Growth Opportunity for Motivated Executive Assistant”.  Adjectives help a lot.  After the initial paragraph on what the broad job description is, add a bullet point list of what’s in it for them.  Things like training, learning, bonuses, flexible schedule, etc… can go a long way in attracting the right people and getting them to read the rest of the ad.  At the end of the ad, I highly recommend adding a “brass tacks” section.  This is where you sound like a tough love boss.  You expect them to be on time, meet deadlines, perform high quality work regularly, not waste time on social media, etc.  Then finish off with clear instructions on how to apply.  I have them write a custom cover letter for this job (no form letters) explaining why they’re the best person to represent my business and help out our customers the best!  I also ask them for their resume, of course, and ask a silly or relevant question like “In the body of your email, share your favorite hobby or pastime”.  If they don’t follow instructions to the detail, they’re not for you.

Playing full out in marketing means doing everything you can to get the word out.  Email the job description to your entrepreneur friends, post it on FaceBook, put an ad on Craigslist, post flyers at the nearby schools or coffee shops.  Do everything you can think of.  This will give you multiple choices and get you the best of the best!

Now get ready for the interviews.  Write down your interview questions.  Base the questions on verifying the skills and attributes you want.  Ask open ended questions (not yes or no).  Use situational questions whenever possible.   “Tell me a time where you dealt with a difficult client or coworker and explain how you handled it”.  When interviewing, use your gut and intuition.

Don’t worry about getting too many applicants.  You can simply quickly screen the resumes and put them in piles of PLUS, MAYBE and NO.  The pluses get a phone interview and the top 3 of those get in person interviews.  When you get to your top choice, make up a test for them.  Do not hire them yet.  Find a short small project that will demonstrate their skills and how they think.  I can’t believe how many companies hire people without testing them out.  Crazy!

Next, it’s important with your finalists to continue to do due diligence.  I didn’t mention this before, because you don’t want to do this for all your candidates.  Be sure to call references.  Ask the tough questions.  They’re not required by law to answer, but sometimes they will.  It’s much better to find out in advance if someone’s got issues.  Check their social media sites and see what they do in their spare time.  Unfortunately for some people, this is quite revealing.  If you find out that they save puppies and orphans in their spare time, then you found a keeper!  Trust your gut and intuition on red flags and don’t compromise.  It’s like dating.  Enough said.

If someone is going to handle cash or other areas of your business susceptible to embezzlement, you’ll also want to do a criminal, eviction, or other background check.  There are many background check organizations that cover a variety of data.  If someone is working with kids you will want to do a sex offender check.  I’ve had talentwise.com recommended to me and have used them successfully.

I hope you found this article very helpful.  I’m also open to new, different or additional ideas.  If you have a suggestion or comment, please contribute below.  Wishing you tremendous success in finding the perfect employee(s) for your business growth.