These days my wheels have been spinning even faster than usual. Always an early riser, today I find myself seated with laptop and coffee at hand before the sun rises, hoping to find some relief in words. I’ve been longing to scratch out a few paragraphs on my blog. It’s been left unattended for way too long. There’s good reason for my blog’s neglect: Since January, I’ve experienced a significant period of growth thanks to an aggressive new business push in Q4. It’s an exciting (and a bit overwhelming) lesson on how quickly one’s life can change when you run a small company.
In August 2014, I opened the doors to Richardson Media Group, leaving a rewarding job in advertising to plunge head first into self-employment. My reasons for taking this leap included craving more flexibility in my work schedule, seeking more autonomy over my career, and finding opportunities to explore more applications for my diverse interests and years of accumulated professional skills. For as long as I could remember, I had a boss (or a parent) making decisions for me. Many would argue there’s security in that arrangement, however, I knew deep down that I was more than ready to step up to the front line.
I could not have accomplished this shift without the assistance of a few key friends and colleagues who seemed to recognize my innate entrepreneurial spirit even before I knew it myself. These generous allies led me towards some early billable opportunities while reassuring me that I had the goods to make my dream into reality. Nearly two, intense, slightly chaotic, but wholly satisfying, years later, I realize they were right.
Growth is wonderful, but change can be painful at times. Never one to shy away from challenges, I keep telling myself that this new, fast-moving period of expansion is simply another test, another chance for me to prove my mettle through determination and hard work. I’ve also come to the realization that it’s time to hire an employee. Soon, if all goes well, Richardson Media Group will go from one to two, and maybe more, forever altering the original company dynamic. It’s still unclear to me where this next leg of the journey will lead.
So, what’s a smart woman to do next? First I needed to post the job. I checked out descriptions and reviews on the top job search engines choosing to go with SimplyHired and Craigslist. At the end of week 1, the results are in: lots of clicks but virtually no direct responses. As a media planner whose job it is to place ads for my clients, always with an eye on ROI, I’m surprisingly content with watching the level of engagement build for now. After all, I’m not promoting concert tickets or coupons for free ice cream. When it comes to human interaction and something as personal as a job search, only time will show whether my small ad investment will deliver any viable applicants.
Not one to sit and wait, I started tapping into my resourceful circle of fellow business owners, media reps, friends and associates I trust, to let them know I’m hiring. That effort has been far more rewarding than the anonymous job boards. Add to that, I’ve secured a spot for my listing on a local mothers’ association website, thanks to the gracious cooperation of the site manager. Top it off with a sprinkle of social media sharing and I’m hopeful that the leads will eventually start rolling in.
Anticipating what’s ahead, I turned to Google to read about some best practices related to hiring. I was looking for content that resonated with the type of approach I plan to take. Here are five tips I’ve summarized from one article I especially enjoyed:
1. Be clear about what you want. Know the characteristics of the person that you're looking for and detail that in the job requirements. Understand the difference between what you think you want and what the job really needs. The two may not always be synonymous. As an entrepreneur who's hiring employees, put the needs of the job and business ahead of your own personal likes and dislikes.
2. Check out candidates' social media profiles. You can call it creeping, but truth is, we are living in a new age of information sharing. By going to candidates' social media pages, you may gain a sense of their worthiness in terms of timeliness and dependability. You may also find less savory or possibly troublesome tidbits that your candidates wouldn’t necessarily include in their formal resumes and cover letters.
3. It’s OK to say no. Know when to walk away from a candidate when you know you don't have the right person. Don’t settle for someone who you feel in your gut you might have to let go in two months. It isn’t good for you, the company or the candidate.
4. Prepare for the interview. As the interviewer, you should be as prepared as the interviewee. Have questions ready designed to capture a portrait of who the person is. Instead of asking boring, mundane questions, ask probing questions such as, “Why would I not hire you?” You may find that people will talk about always being late or not finishing things on time. This sorts the candidates pretty quickly.
5. Try out your top candidates in a social setting. It’s one thing to be buttoned up for an interview and something completely different to go out for a casual meal in jeans. You’ll learn a lot about the candidate by observing their behavior at dinner, whether they order the most expensive items on the menu, if they drink too much and, especially, how they treat the wait staff. These are invaluable clues to how they may behave when dealing with future clients and co-workers.
I will continue chronicling my progress towards finding the right office associate on this blog over the weeks (and possibly months) to come. Eventually, I will hire someone who meets my needs, but I must be patient. Meanwhile, if you know of anyone you think would be a good fit, please let me know!