Hiring good people is no easy task. But, I will say that it is easier to hire someone than to let someone go. At least for me it is. Here are a few methods, all learned by hiring web designers, web programmers, project managers and support staff. All learned the hard way. Hopefully at least one of these ideas can save you a few headaches. (cartoons by me).
Check Court Records:
Obviously, it’s a good idea to google, twitter and facebook the prospect to see what they are like – but it doesn’t take much time to do a court records search. Cast a wide net. Search multiple counties and/or states of past residency. More often than not, I learn more about a prospects “need for speed” rather than criminal behavior.
Why I do this:
Several years ago, I ended up hiring an applicant that had stabbed someone in their past (Nice. Lesson learned.)
Paid test projects are great. I suggest being totally up front with the prospect. I tell them that I am interested in them, interested enough to see how they would do on a project. I usually define about 10 – 20 hours work that relate directly to the skills that I am looking for. If applicable, I bring in other team members to assist with the assignment meeting and turn them loose. My results with this program are varied. Some applicants do great and go over and above what I asked for. Note to job seekers: This is good. Other applicants seem somewhat offended that I would ask for a ‘test project,’ still others are more concerned about the details of the “getting paid part” than fully understanding the project assignment.
Why I do this: I hired a designer strictly off of his portfolio, enthusiasm and awards he had won. (My mistake. The designer lasted 2 days.)
3-6 Month Probationary Period:
This a is a fairly common industry practice. I included this because, we make it clear that ‘probationary’ means ‘probationary.’ We expect people to put forth the effort to help us be an extraordinary company. By emphasizing ‘probationary’ I think it says ‘opportunity.’ This is the period of time when extra effort is expected and less-than-extra effort is duly noted. By labeling and (occasionally) verbally reinforcing the term probationary – it is also easier to address non-performance issues and termination. The upshot of the 3-6 month probationary period is that some new hires take a little time to shine and it gives managers a little period of time to assess where a new hire’s hidden strengths may be.
Why I do this:
Usually after a few weeks, typical office characters like: Johnny Doesn’t Play Nice with Others, Entitlement Edith and Long Lunch Larry show their true colors. (And can be summarily dealt with.)
Hire Low w/ Opportunity of Significant Raise in 6 Months:
Hiring someone for less compensation than they would ideally like to accept may seem unfair or mean-spirited, but this helps me judge character, trust and vision. If the person understands the opportunity and sees Back40 as a great fit for them, they usually agree. Goals are presented at the time of hire and quickly finalized after the applicant accepts the position. We also tell the applicant that these goals are subject to change. We do that because, invariably we discover new skill sets and need to adjust the scope and direction of goals. We find it rare the new hire does not meet the criteria for their increased compensation. This also goes for commission-driven positions, like sales.
Why I do this:
When Back40 makes a commitment to bring on a new person, it is nice to have the sense of commitment be mutual. Money does motivate, but its nice to see someone self-motivate and have the patience and trust to say yes to an opportunity. (Trust me, it works.)