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Hiring Well: Lessons Learned Part II

new jobThis is Part 2 of a two-part series

In my last post I talked about lessons learned the first time around I tried to hire.

Time to hire an admin

Back to the present, I had learned my first three lessons the hard way and slowly got over my fear as Sisarina’s client base grew and work became overwhelming.

First, Teresa had so much on her plate that I ended up doing administrative work due to her lack of time. We were both working much more overtime than either of us expected and she was showing a huge growth in skills. Showing her loyalty by sticking through all the tough stuff along with running Sisarina alone for a week while I finally took much needed downtime, I knew she was ready to take on projects… and more. It was finally time to find someone to help her out.

Part-time to start with the potential to grow like Teresa did.

Lesson #1: Hire when you absolutely cannot do any more work on your own and take baby steps.

Time to hire a Social Media Manager

It just so happened that our clients were also begging us to start offering social media management. Sisarina was built on the premise that we give our clients the tools and teach them how to use them. This didn’t fit our model but our clients didn’t have the time and neither did I.

Building that trust had taken a long time and they could see from our success that we know what we are doing.

It was also time to find someone to help us with this.

Lesson #2: Hire independent contractors by the project to help build a service before hiring full-time.

Thus began an experiment in hiring.

Having learned our lessons, Teresa and I set out to find the perfect admin & social media contractor. We knew that Sisarina wasn’t a typical corporation and that a certain personality would be needed to fit into the overall company culture and office vibe. Our clients loved us because of how easy their projects were and how enthusiastic we were about helping them.

So we threw out the traditional hiring style and created our own based on how terrible it normally is. Here’s how we found Katie, our Operations Manager, and Corrie, our Social Media Manager.

1. Write job descriptions. Put together a list of all the things you want that person to do. Now make that list shorter and make it sound like you’re talking to them, not at them. No one wants to read a 4-page job description with excessive amounts of rhetoric. Tell them concisely about the job and what it would take to rock it.

2. Create a fool-proof screening process. Who really likes to read cover letters and resumes? Not us. We put an online application on our website with 4 questions (why you’re perfect for the position, how your experience fits, what you’d offer the office vibe, and your super power.) It specifically said not to send your resume. If someone didn’t follow directions, we automatically hit delete because they obviously didn’t have “attention to detail.” If someone did, we felt it was worth bringing them in for an interview.

If you absolutely must have them submit a resume, request they answer specific questions and weed out the mass applications from the personalized ones.

3. Setup short interviews. When emailing a candidate about an interview, save yourself a ton of time and ask them to come in for a 30-minute interview. You’ll know within 30 minutes if you’re interested in them. If not, you didn’t hurt their feelings by keeping it short and sweet. If you liked them, have them come back for a less formal interview.

4. Weed out the ones who just “want a job.” The people you hire will need to be supportive of your business. Although there are a lot of people looking for jobs right now, it’s best to hire people who really want to work for your company. They will be the ones who do everything they can to ensure your company’s growth. The key to this: Make sure you stand behind your staff and they’ll stand behind you.

5. If you’re in a bind, call your mom. OK, maybe not your mom but someone who is not in your company. When you find a few really good candidates, it’s sometimes hard to make a decision on who to hire.

Having someone who doesn’t have a bias listen to what you thought about each one can significantly change the way you really think.

6. Make an offer. Either ask that person to come into the office for a second interview and offer the job OR call them and let them know. Never make the initial offer via email.

7. Get started! Once you’ve found the perfect person, get them started right away. Good people are hard to find and you want to make sure you keep them. The quicker you get them in the door and understanding your company’s culture, the quicker they’ll adapt and latch on.

Sisarina is growing, our clients are happy with our slow staffing changes and I’m a lot less frightened now that I’ve learned to take small steps. Organic growth with people who are willing to make things happen is the best way to stay just ahead of the small business curve.

Now, it’s your turn to stop being scared. Pull up your Underoo’s and grow your company. When you make a mistake, realize that many of us have done it before you and can be there if you need someone to cry to.

Ready, set… HIRE!

Image: Egan Snow via Flickr, Creative Commons

More from Women Grow Business:

Melanie Spring is the principal and project director at Sisarina Inc., and a regular contributor to, and avid fan of, Women Grow Business. An expert networker, Melanie and Sisarina connect individuals and companies with the tools they need to market and promote their brand successfully and efficiently. Connect with her on Twitter where she’s @sisarina.


    1. This was great! Thanks for sharing, Melanie. As someone who recently started a business, I know pretty soon I’ll need to “hire” someone to help do the little things I don’t have time for. This will help when it comes down to selecting the right person.

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    2. Melanie, Terrific post! I keep telling my clients exactly your first point — dump the useless administrivia of a boring job description and create something that entices the right people – make it about the critical needs, the expected results, and what you offer. And loved your reminder about the screening process too! Although I would start with a phone call before bringing someone in, even for half an hour — you can weed out some on the phone in 5-10 minutes! Am delighted you passed on both your bad and good experiences for others to learn from. So many make the same mistakes you did, not so many improve so fast. patra

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