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As we’ve said time and again on this blog (because it’s true!), your most valuable form of capital is your human capital. This rule prevails regardless of your industry sector or the size of your business. Even if you’re a company made up of one person, take a moment to reflect. How useful would your bank account, your machines, your vehicles, or your credit be without you standing at the center of it all? Not so useful. Add a few employees to the mix and you soon recognize that your hiring and staffing decisions are about the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a business owner.

So if you’re navigating an uncertain economy and trying to manage risk as you grow your business, bringing on a new employee can involve significantly high stakes. Here are a few tips that prevent trouble and make the process easier.

1. Don’t be Overwhelmed or Mislead by the Applicant Pool

These are challenging times for job seekers, which means you’ll probably have a long line of applicants winding out the door. But don’t get swept away. Keep a cool head, stay focused on what you need, and don’t let a great candidate slip by just because you have 50 more resumes to review and you’re hoping to find perfection.

2. Hire Only When You’re in Pain

Hiring now in preparation for the future can sometimes be a great strategy, but not always. And it’s usually not the best move for a small business. Instead, use just-in-time hiring principles and wait until you really, really need someone. Stay lean and mean. Nobody makes money when they have too many employees walking around.

3. Be Rigorous With Reference Checks and Interviews

Be merciless. Create tough application procedures that set the bar high. Encourage self-selection by making every step of the process as difficult as possible. This will thin the applicant ranks and deter those who lack the skills and personality traits you need. Every time you hunt down an elusive reference or go the extra mile to look into an applicant’s background, know that you’re doing it for the benefit of the company.

4. Hire Adults

Young people and new graduates may be willing to learn, and that’s admirable. But adults are also willing to learn, and they come in the door with a deep reserve of both training and experience. To mitigate risk and start generating returns quickly on a new hire, dispense with the learning curve and bring on someone who already knows what she’s doing.

5. Consider the Temp-to-Perm Option

During these lean times, an increasing number of small and large companies are vetting their hires through a temporary placement service. By doing this, you can bring an employee on board immediately and let her work with you for a sustained period of time before you make a long term commitment.

To learn more about temp-to-perm hiring and staffing during uncertain economic times, contact the HR pros at RPC. Arrange a consultation and let us take your talent management strategy to the next level.

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