Don’t Make These 5 Hiring Mistakes

Linda Childers

What does $50,000 mean to your small business? Probably a lot. That may be your typical quarterly operating budget, the cost of new equipment you need to keep up with demand (and the competition), or the salary of your star employee. It’s also the cost you bear if you hire the wrong employee.

While hiring mistakes are costly for any company, they can be devastating to a small business.

A 2013 CareerBuilder survey reported that a bad hire costs companies more than $50,000, a figure that includes training, replacement staffing, lost productivity, reduced morale and lost clients. Whether you’re about to hire your first employee, or want to build a stronger team, it’s important to avoid these five mistakes.

1. Not Taking Time to Define the Role

Congratulations, you’ve reached the point where you need help taking your small business to the next level. Although it’s great to be in the position to hire, it’s also important to be clear about the specific skills you’re looking for in a candidate.

Do you need someone who can take charge of your social media presence or a salesperson to help boost sales? Once you’ve assessed the type of skills you’re looking for in a candidate, you can then determine their daily duties, level of experience needed to do the job successfully, and how the new hire’s efforts will contribute to your company’s business objectives. Have a clear plan and an established set of expectations before you post the job description. Determine whether you need to hire someone on a full-time basis, work with temporary and contract employees, or an intern to fill the role you have in mind.

2. Not Selecting a Candidate Who Shares Your Core Values

Margaret Jacoby, a human resources consultant and owner of MJ Management Solutions, says small business owners should look for candidates that can contribute to a company’s core values.

“Defining your corporate culture means looking at things such as work ethics and ability to collaborate,” Jacoby says. “During the interview, ask candidates how many hours they expect to work each week, and what their work style is like. Do they like to work as part of a team or do they prefer to work independently? This will help you to determine if they are a good fit with your company culture.”

3. Failing to Cast a Wide Net

In order to find a good pool of candidates, small businesses need to announce job openings beyond their inner circle of contacts. Consider posting on job boards such as and reaching out to local colleges and professional organizations. Consider how your industry is competing for talent – are they using headhunters, trawling professional groups, or finding success through specific sources?

When posting on job boards or Linkedin, be sure to include keywords to ensure your job postings are searchable. For example, when seeking a Sales Representative, be as concise as possible: “Financial Services Sales Representative” will capture the attention of candidates with the specific background your small business is seeking. Use free keyword research tools such as the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to help you expand the list of keyword phrases in your job description.

4. Neglecting to Complete a Reference or Background Check

While job seekers may have an impressive resume, it’s also important to screen candidates to ensure they possess the skills and experience they claim to have.

If you don’t have the time or staff to conduct background checks on your own, consider outsourcing to a company such as HireRight Express or SurePayroll. According to the HireRight 2015 Screening Benchmarking Report, nearly three-quarters of small businesses are now conducting background checks on potential employees.

5. Not Offering Training or Mentorships

Mentorship programs aren’t just limited to big corporations; small businesses can also mentor their employees. Start by deciding what experienced workers in your business have the personality and skills to mentor new hires, then develop a process, and integrate the program into your small business. Mentoring assists new employees in quickly learning what they need to know to succeed in their new job. Successful mentoring programs have been shown to attract new hires, help retain employees, and help those employees grow in their roles and to take on greater responsibilities.

Next Steps:  Are you looking to manage your employees more effectively but don’t have time to keep up with the latest research and trends in talent management? We’ve got you covered with the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter. Sign up today and start receiving the weekly newsletter chock full of the latest tools and resources to help you run a successful business.

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