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Hiring the right people is easy (just ask the ancient Greeks)

iStock_000014487779XSmallOK, hiring the right people, every time, for every position is not easy. But it should be. Going back to my oft-used vision of the future, we should be driving around in flying cars by now. Shouldn’t it be as easy as pressing a button to get a .Net programmer?

The real reason that it’s a problem is that the wonderful beings we call ‘human beings’ are immeasurably complex, diverse and constantly changing. It’s hard to truly evaluate and know people just by a resume, a profile form or even a phone conversation.

So where do we start to hire the right people? The Greek maxim: Know thyself. Because (I’m assuming here) that we know ourselves a little better than we know others, I suggest starting there. Here’s how:

  • Write a real job description – If your job descriptions start with something like “Seeking a…” or “Duties include...” maybe you should stop right there and think about what you really what. Such as, “We need a team player who can code more lines before breakfast than most programmers can do in a day,” or, “Strategic thinker wanted for an eco-friendly start up that puts the human element into usable technology.” Do your job description and postings reflect who you really want to hire?
  • Understand your culture and why someone would fit there – There are many reasons that unemployment is so high, but one of my theories on part of the reason it’s so high is because there’s a great need and desire for employees that fit a company’s culture. We know that better culture fits mean better hires. Take time to understand why certain people work out better at your company and look for similar people (remember though, diversity is still important). This is more about work style, management style, vision and mission.
  • Be real in the interview – I’ve seen companies sell the hell out of their company in the interview then the employee walks in on Monday morning and says, “Where’s the company I interviewed with? This is totally different than what I expected.” That’s not good. Be realistic about your company and the job. Have them talk with a variety of people to get a real sense for the culture. You’ll be able to see it in their eyes if they are really interested after spending time at your company.
  • Plan ahead – OK, I’ll say it straight: If you are hiring someone because you are desperate, and it works out, then you are lucky, not good. Hiring the right people does take time. We know from experience and research that taking that time and doing some of the things above can result in better hires. Don’t expect to find that perfect .Net programmer a week before the project starts. Ideally, you or your recruiting team/partners should have been talking to that programmer long before you had a need.

So there you have it. It’s not easy. But it should be. “Know thyself,” is a great starting point for making hiring the right person easy (shout out to the ancient Greeks). If you start there, you might find more employees telling you they know someone who would be a great fit for your company. Which would prove another maxim: Referrals are the best source for hires.

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