Cultivate a Nose for Talent

By Tej Kohli, a Guest Contributor

When first setting up a company, I believe that it is the entrepreneur’s responsibility to hire the best people for their business. All too often, however, mistakes are made during the hiring process, proving that talent-spotting is in itself a talent that can be difficult to master.

Getting the right staff at an early stage is the best investment a company can make. Getting it wrong can be costly both in terms of finance and time. Recruitment is often a business’s greatest cost—so it is all the more important for entrepreneurs to maximise their return on staff investment.

Hiring the wrong person can, in a small company, have a negative impact on the entire team’s productivity. Conversely, the right person can enhance the whole team’s cooperation and cohesiveness and reduce everyone’s workload, thereby increasing profitability.

With roles that directly deal with customers, it is crucial to employ the right person: they will be a reflection of the entire business and customer service is the lifeblood to fledgling businesses. This is even more important in this day and age with the use of social media and the internet. Bad reviews can spread like wildfire and destroy a company’s reputation in just 140 characters.

It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate potential candidates, particularly in a world where everyone seems to have a degree. Therefore, employers should look to determine whether candidates will be able to quickly fit in with the company culture, which will in turn maximise productivity and employee welfare. A person can have a fantastic degree and a great CV, but if their attitude does not fit in with the company culture then they will not be a suitable appointment.

What stage the business is at can influence the type of person that you should hire. In small companies, you will most likely require generalists that will “get stuck in” if need be. In larger organisations the role will be much more specific. Generalists need to be able to adapt and react to the needs of the business quickly and efficiently; this is a skill that is not easily come by.

Ultimately without good staff the business will not run and a company’s workforce can often be the greatest cost so investing time in the recruitment process is extremely beneficial for the performance of the company. However, to get the right staff you need the right recruitment strategy. Here are my top five tips for entrepreneurs looking to recruit the right talent:

  1. Trust your gut
  2. Clearly identify what areas of the business are lacking and hire for them
  3. It is better to wait for the right candidate than rushing into hiring someone who is less than ideal
  4. Put a little bit of time and effort into drawing up a good job description. As a result you will attract better candidates
  5. Willingness to learn is very important. It is better to invest in and educate people to get them where they need to be—nobody will be completely perfect for the role

Personally, I value a strong work ethic and creative ideas above all other attributes, so this is what I look out for in potential candidates. It is really worthwhile thinking about what attributes you value and which ones will add most value to your business. Often people with similar beliefs to you, make the best employees.

Once you have employed great talent the real challenge begins—making sure that you retain them!

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