Finding Employees to Hire

How do you start hiring the best employees and how do you afford them? These are tough questions for the small business owner.

Be sure you have a plan before finding employees to hire. You develop a business plan when you are starting your business. In the same way, it is important to have a hiring plan that will guide you as your business grows. While it will continuously change, your plan will give you the initial direction in which to travel and will help you to navigate around common potholes on the road.


Do you know what kind of person you would like to hire? If not, take out a pen and pencil and jot down some notes. Think of your ideal candidate. What qualities would this person possess? Put it all down on paper, even if it seems unrealistic. Next, go through your list and put stars or checks next to the characteristics that are "must haves". Be sure to be objective here and do not include descriptors that pertain to physical appearance, gender, where the candidate lives, age, or disability. These considerations are not only unfair, they are illegal.

On your list of characteristics, make sure to include a certain educational background and/or employment experience. This will depend on the nature of the work you will have your new employee do. In addition, think about work style. Everyone has their own philosophy (or "work ethic"). It will be important that your new employee has a philosophy that is similar to yours or that complements it.


This may sound silly, but do you know what you want the new person in your business to do? Often times as small business owners, we know that we cannot get everything done anymore on our own. That realization leads us to the hiring process in the first place. But it should include more than that. Again, write down what specific tasks you want the new employee to do. Review the list and make sure that one person will be able to handle the various jobs. Sometimes it makes more sense to hire two part-time employees rather than one full-time employee. That way, you could have an office assistant and an accountant. This works when there is not enough work for either position to be full-time.

When you have a clear idea of all the tasks that need to be done, organize them into a Job Description. For more information on this topic, click here.


There are two parts to this question. The first deals with where you are going to look for the new hire (which we will discuss in a minute). The second addresses where the person will actually work. Is there room in your office? Do you even have an office? Will you consider telecommuting? Decide on this now. Your response may include extra money going to pay for office furniture, more equipment, a coffee pot! If the new employee will telecommute, be sure to document how you want that arrangement to work. For more information on telecommuting, click here.

Finding your new employee involves some creativity... and a bit of good fortune. Don't expect it to happen overnight. Most quality candidates take from a month to a year or more to find. Knowing where to go in your search for the "perfect employee" is important. The first thing that comes to mind is usually the newspaper. This is a good place to start. Classified advertisements are most noticed on Sundays. I know that I have always looked there. In addition to newspapers, consider utilizing other publications: the community newsletter, the church bulletin, etc. Most importantly, rely on your networks. Most likely the colleagues who sit on the same committees as you, who belong to the Chamber of Commerce with you, or who do business with you are reliable references. Let these people know that you are hiring. Ask if they know of someone with the qualifications you have outlined, who is looking for a job/new job? Unemployment offices and college placement offices are also good to notify of your employment opportunity.

There are also a number of national websites ( and local websites you could utilize in your job search. In the city where I live, there are several local news organizations that host web sites with career information on them. It pays to learn more about these resources since so may job seekers are looking on-line.

If you are open to the idea of having a person with less experience rather than more, consider calling a local college or university. It is very cost efficient to have a current student assist with your business as they earn college credits (through co-oping). Just know that a student will likely require more guidance and time than a seasoned professional.


Do you have a timeline for your hiring process? When would you like the new employee to start? Yesterday? If so, know that you may be more likely to compromise in your decision making because you are in need. Do you have the funds to begin paying the ideal candidate if he or she is found tomorrow? Or were you planning to apply for/make more money to help finance your growing staff? It's critical to be aware of what you want and also when you want it.


You have probably been over this several times in your head. Most small business owners do not hire additional employees unless it is absolutely essential. Just be sure that you know why it is an extra employee is needed. Is it because the business is growing by leaps and bounds and cannot be handled by the current staff/yourself? If you already have staff, be sure that these individuals could not realistically shift their workloads to accommodate more work.


Oops, this is not a "W" but is a very important question nonetheless. How will you make this hiring process work? Do you have the money to pay the "ideal candidate" you outlined? If not, do you have the money to pay a person with some of the most important characteristics you checked on your list? Be realistic in your planning. Don't expect to hire a full-time office manager with 10 years of experience in a corporate setting and pay him or her minimum wage. Remember too that having an employee(s) means paying them before you get paid. Are you ready to go back to this?

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