Plan to Staff Your Business


In this section, we cover the things you should consider before reaching out to potential recruits.

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Know Your Business’ Needs

Few businesses are just about making money. If you haven’t already, think about what you most want to accomplish with your business. What are your short-term and long-term goals? Where do you want your business to be this time next year, in two years, in five or ten years? What are the biggest obstacles preventing you from being there right now?

Having clear answers to these questions will inform your hiring strategy and help you build your team in a smart and sustainable way.

Know Your Budget

When hiring employees, you need to budget for more than just the cost of a salary. Other costs include payroll taxes, unemployment insurance, workers comp, potentially the cost of a payroll service, as well as the cost of whatever other benefits your company offers.

A good rule of thumb is to budget 120% of a new hire’s salary. You should make sure you have a steady cash flow to be able to keep up with the costs of new employees, or at least enough funds saved up to cover costs for one year.

Strong financial planning is a key component to long-term success. Trying to grow too quickly can ruin a business.

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Read our article Employee Taxes for Small Business to learn more about the costs of hiring employees.

Know Exactly Who You Want to Hire

Every business is unique. The culture and values of a business are shaped by the people who work there. When hiring new team members, it is important to know what kind of person you are looking for.

What makes your business unique? What essential qualities are you looking for in new team members? What do you want your team to be passionate about?

Keeping this vision for your business culture at the forefront of your mind while entering the hiring process will help you develop a team that works well together and is excited about your business goals. This factor is no less important than the other considerations that can impact hiring, including budgetary concerns, and the skills and professional experience a role requires.

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Hiring Tip #1

US law prohibits discrimination during all phases of the hiring process. This includes basing hiring decisions on factors such as race, color, religion, sex, gender identity or orientation, national origin, or age. For more information, visit the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website.

Develop a Recruiting Strategy


This section offers advice on where to look for new talent and how to write a job listing that will attract the best candidates.

Where to Look for New Talent

Word-of-Mouth Recruiting

Recruiting can feel like an overwhelming process, especially if your business has vacancies that need to be filled immediately. Keep in mind that the vast majority of positions are filled through word-of-mouth referrals. Your first step when looking for talent should always be to tap into your social network

This has several advantages:

  • Current employees know your business’ culture and may already know someone who would be a good fit for the role.
  • Your team members are invested in your business’ success, so they are likely to bring in quality recruits.
  • Recruits referred by your current team members’ are more likely to stick with the job.
  • A simple incentive program for referring a qualified candidate is often cheaper than the costs of hiring a recruiting agency.

In sum, recruiting via word-of-mouth can be a valuable strategy for your business. The only downside is that you may miss out on qualified candidates outside of your employees’ network. For this reason, it is always a good idea to use several different methods while recruiting. This also helps maintain diversity within your team.

Recruiting via Online Job Boards

Nearly four in five Americans use online job postings as their primary resource when seeking employment. Here are some of the best websites for finding new recruits:

  • Glassdoor— A job board website known for its company reviews and highly informative user-interface, including useful information such as an estimate of the salary range you should expect for any position.
  • Indeed— One of the most popular job sites out there, Indeed.com brings listings from multiple other job boards together on one platform. It attracts around 200 million unique visitors per month. You can post your job listing here for free, or pay extra to have it advertised on the site.
  • Workable— One of the newer but more innovative online recruiting options, Workable.com is a paid service that lets you simultaneously post your job listing on all of the top job boards. Their platform also lets you create an attractive profile page for your business, schedule interviews, and evaluate candidates.
  • LinkedIn— A social networking site for working professionals. Employers can send out a referral request to their professional network, search through profiles to compile a list of ideal candidates, and, for an additional fee, post job openings to LinkedIn’s job board.

Recruiting via Social Media

Checking candidates personal profile page on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others is quickly becoming a standard part of the recruiting process.

Similarly, job seekers actively look up company pages on these sites to get a feel for a business’ ethos and see if they are hiring.

Having an active presence on social media sites not only helps boost your company’s brand, but it can attract enthusiastic candidates when it comes time for recruiting.

Posting job ads up on your company website and on your social media pages is a simple and inexpensive way of getting the word out about available positions at your company.

Recruiting Agencies

Most recruiting agencies specialize in a specific industry and are most helpful when looking for highly specialized talent.

The upside of recruiting agencies is that they only get paid when they successfully match a candidate with your business. This allows you to budget a certain amount for the roles you need and then let the agency take care of the grunt work.

While recruiting agencies can be effective ways of bringing great talent into your organization, their fees can be expensive. Many charge up to 35% of a new hire’s first year’s wages. Different agencies have different billing models.

In sum, for higher level positions that are urgent to fill, recruiting agencies can be a great option.

College Recruiting

If there is one place that is guaranteed to have hundreds, if not thousands of people looking for a job, it is a college campus. Most universities have a career center where they post local job opportunities free of charge. Furthermore, you can try reaching out to specific academic departments to advertise your job openings if you are looking for a certain type of expertise.

Students are usually eager to learn new skills, and it may be easier to train them for the role you need filled than to try to find a candidate with all the prerequisite experience. Furthermore, students typically are willing to work at a more affordable hourly rate. This can help extend your budget so you can invest in other areas of your business.

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Hiring Tip #2

Get in touch with local universities and colleges to find out when they are holding their career fairs. Most campuses have one or two per year to give students a chance to meet representatives from all kinds of businesses. Career fairs are a great opportunity to promote your brand and recruit new talent.

Recruiting Within Your Own Company

Another method that can work surprisingly well is to hire from within your own business. Current team members can be great candidates to pull-up into positions of greater responsibility. With a little training, they can often out compete those who might have more years of experience, but who are unfamiliar with your company culture and the way you like to run your business.

Finally, the best tip for recruiting is to be proactive in retaining your current employees. This way you can worry about recruiting less often. Offering raises at regular intervals, maintaining a warm and personal relationship with your team, and finding ways to support your employees’ career growth within your company are all great ways to keep the great talent that you already have on board.

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Hiring Tip #3

Employee turnover costs businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. Measure what it is costing your company and take action to increase your employee retention rate. You can use this spreadsheet from Huffington Post to get started.

How to Write a Job Listing

When done well, a job listing is a great opportunity to advertise your company. Here are some key things to keep in mind when putting together a job post for an online job board like Indeed or Workable:

1. Pick a job title that people are looking for. When looking for jobs, the first thing that jumps out to candidates is the position title. You can get an edge on your competitors by using the most current and popular language when referring to the role you want to fill.

2. Don’t be afraid to sell your company. The best recruits are those who are excited about being a part of your team. Use the introduction to your job listing to share what you think sets your business apart from others in your industry.

3. Be specific about the role and its requirements. A great job listing gives a vivid picture of the role and what the it looks like on a day-to-day basis. This helps encourage qualified candidates to apply. It will also help dissuade unqualified candidates, thus saving you valuable time.

4. Be clear about what you want from applicants. Do you want to see a resume? A cover letter? A headshot? All three? Be clear about what you need from applicants. This saves your time and theirs.

5. Get a second opinion before sending it out. Every great writer needs a great editor. It’s always worth it to have a business partner or friend take a look at your job listing to make sure everything came out how you wanted it to sound.

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Hiring Tip #4

Respond to everyone who applies, even if they aren’t a good fit for the role. It could even be a short message saying the role is filled and thanking them for their interest. This helps sustain a positive public image for your brand. Also, you might need to reach out to these people again as your business expands.

Interview with Confidence


In this section, we explain how to make the most out of your interviews. We offer tips on who to invite, what questions to ask, and what to keep in mind when making a final decision.

Who to invite for an Interview?

No matter how well you execute the planning and recruiting phases of the process, the success of your hiring attempts can vary depending on your luck. It is always important to keep an open mind and look for the potential in your candidates. Otherwise, you might end up with no help at all.

With that said, here are a few questions to ask yourself when sifting through applications to pick out the best recruits:

Does their resume match the role? When looking at a person’s resume, it should make sense why they are applying for the job you are hiring for. Their education, previous work experience, or extracurricular interests should indicate that they are a good fit.

Does their cover letter match the role? The cover letter is a great metric for identifying serious applicants. A lot of applicants either won’t send a cover letter or won’t take the time to write one that is unique for your business. The best candidates are those who are interested enough to try to convince you why they are worth hiring.

How well do they communicate? In a team setting, strong communication is one of the biggest contributors to overall success. Pay attention to the way candidates express themselves. Is their tone respectful, sincere, and easy to understand?

Are they attentive to detail? Resumes or cover letters that are poorly organized or filled with typos are a red flag to watch out for. They indicate a lack of seriousness.

What to ask during an interview?

It is natural to be a bit anxious when interviewing prospective employees. Don’t forget that the interview is just a chance to get to know an applicant and to give them an opportunity to learn more about the role and the business. Also, it might help to remember that they are probably even more nervous than you are!

Here are some tips for a successful interview:

Prepare. Take enough time beforehand to read over the candidate’s resume, cover letter, and anything else that may have been part of their application.

Get to know the candidate’s character. As helpful as it is to become familiar with the applicant’s general background and professional skills, the quality of their character is what will matter the most in the long run. This will determine how well they can work with you and the rest of your team.

Determine their enthusiasm for the role. Hiring can be an expensive process. Finding an enthusiastic candidate who is likely to stick around for a year or more will save your company a lot of money in HR costs.

Give them an opportunity to ask questions, too. This is honestly one of the most helpful things to do when interviewing a candidate. The type of question people ask says a lot about how they think, their level of interest in your business, and their motive for being there in the first place. If all a person wants to know is how much vacation time your business offers and how much you pay, they probably aren’t the best candidate.

Have multiple team members meet the candidate. You’re not the only one who will be working with the new hire, so get an opinion from others on your team. They might notice something you don’t.

Remember: they are evaluating you, too. An interview is not a one-way interaction. Quality candidates often have several job opportunities in the works. They will go for whichever one offers the best all around experience. Spend a portion of the interview sharing highlights of your company and your culture. Why should they want to work with you? What does your team do well? How will working at your company help forward their career goals?

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Hiring Tip #5

If you it isn’t clear from an applicant’s resume, always ask if they are eligible to work in the United States. This is especially important when hiring students for part-time roles or internships, as international students aren’t always aware of US employment regulations.

What to Keep in Mind When Making a Final Decision

A great recruit really only needs two things: they should work well on a team and they should be able to do the job.

The more you can create a positive work environment for your employees the more you will attract high quality recruits. For this reason, whenever you think about adding someone to your team, make sure their overall personality is a good fit with your organization. Aim to create a diverse team that shares common interests and a common mission.

Remember that hiring is a competitive process both for applicants and employers alike. It is not uncommon to make a job offer to someone who ends up turning you down to work for another business. Always wait until you get a positive confirmation from the person you want to hire before letting other applicants know that the role has been filled.