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10 Tips for Hiring Smart

Is your business’s workload getting out of hand? Finding the right employees to meet your company’s needs can be challenging. When it’s time to hire, these 10 tips will help you pick the perfect person for the job.

  1. Define your needs. Write a job description specifying duties and responsibilities. Include any experience or special skills required. Decide what salary you can pay and what benefits you can offer. Consider the qualities applicants need (“ability to multitask,” or “proven salesperson”). Include these in your want ad.
  2. Target your search. Instead of posting a want ad on a generalized job search board, focus on those that specialize in your industry. You’re more likely to find qualified people there. Post the opening on your company’s Web site, too.
  3. Go beyond want ads. Tell business contacts, friends and relatives you’re hiring. Tap into your online networks, such as LinkedIn. Yes, you can post paid job listings there, but you can also find good candidates simply by networking or by noticing who’s actively answering questions related to your industry.
  4. Ask the right questions. Employment law regulates what you can ask job candidates. Questions must relate to their ability to do the job. Don’t ask about age, race, religion, marital status, whether they have children or where they were born. Don’t ask about disabilities, whether the person has been arrested, or whether they have been treated for alcoholism, drug abuse or emotional problems.
  5. Interview thoroughly. Do at least two interviews with your top candidates. The first covers the basics and gives you a sense of the person’s experience and skills; the second focuses on your business. Pose hypothetical problems that might arise on the job and ask what the candidate would do. Or give the person a test or project to complete.
  6. Do a background check. Ask for references–and contact them. Verify employment dates and duties, as well as education. If the job involves handling money, run a credit check. In your job application packet, have applicants sign an authorization form allowing you to perform these checks.
  7. Create a desirable workplace. Want to compete with big companies for employees? Emphasize the advantages you offer—a fun environment, the chance to be a big fish in a small pond, or the ability to learn lots of new skills. Offer as many perks as you can, whether telecommuting, flextime or a relaxed dress code. Make sure your salaries are competitive.
  8. Start new employees off right. Get new hires off to a good start with an orientation process. Create an employee handbook explaining your expectations. Make new hires feel welcome, and spend as much time as needed getting them up to speed.
  9. Follow the rules. Tax and employment laws related to employees vary depending on your company size and your state. The IRS and Department of Labor Web sites can help; when in doubt, ask your lawyer or accountant for guidance.
  10. Consider alternatives. Can’t afford full-time employees? Consider hiring part-timers, temporary workers or interns, or outsourcing projects to independent contractors. You’ll save on benefits, and get a chance to “test drive” employees you may later want to hire full-time.

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Before launching her business, she was Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Follow Rieva on Twitter @Rieva and read more of her insights on

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