7 Essentials for Hiring the Perfect Team

August 01, 2018

A business must have processes in place that appeal to potential hires and retain current employees.

Employees are both your company’s biggest liability and biggest asset.

They can be unpredictable, fickle, and disengaged.

On the other hand, they can also be dedicated, brilliant, and creative, rocketing your company to success.

Good or bad, your team is the lifeblood of your organization, and choosing who should be a part of it is one of your biggest responsibilities.

Not only will your team be a major factor in helping (or hindering) your business’s growth, hiring is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Opinions vary on how much employee turnover costs companies, but just about everyone agrees it’s expensive. One report from Employee Benefit News estimates that the cost of replacing an employee is about 33% of that employee’s salary.

It pays to get hiring right the first time. Here are 7 essentials you’ll need to bring on the perfect team.

1. Know What Your Team Needs

When you’re wearing all the hats, all you want from employees is a little help. But what exactly do you need help with? If your answer is “everything,” it’s time to take a step back and evaluate what you truly need.

Grab a piece of paper and create a list of the duties you need to run your business in its current stage of development. This might include website maintenance, marketing, or finance, among other tasks.

Duties you need to run your business in its current stage of development

Then, on another piece of paper, write down the names of each current member of your team (even if it’s just you). Map out what they do and what skills they bring to the table.

Compare the two lists. Where are the gaps? Which of those gaps represent a crucial need, and which can wait until you’ve grown a bit more?

Once you’ve narrowed that down, you can make well-reasoned decisions about which skills and positions you need to hire for.

Taking this first step will also help you advertise job openings properly to attract the right candidates.

2. Have a Vision

What does your perfect team look like in your mind? Hiring is a multi-step process, and having a clear end goal is key to navigating the process.

  • Step 1: Start with a vision for your perfect team. If you had access to the best talent, how many people would you hire? What would each of their roles be? What would they need to fit in with your company’s culture?
  • Step 2: Work backward from that vision by hiring for the most essential positions first, before any other hires.
  • Step 3: With each hire, assess your current position and adjust your strategy or vision as needed.
  • Step 4: Remind yourself that your vision doesn’t have to be set in stone. It can change as your company grows and evolves. That doesn’t mean that planning isn’t important, but sometimes if you stick too close to an initial vision, you miss opportunities to create something even greater than what you initially planned.

Finally, don’t settle for “good enough.” When it comes to your business, you need the best. The high cost of turnover makes it worthwhile to continue your search until you find the right fit for each position.

3. Write Great Job Descriptions

So many companies get lazy when it comes to writing job descriptions. It’s appealing to just slap a template up and go about your day, but it’s important to remember that your job description gives candidates just as much information about you as a resume does about them.

Your job descriptions should be appealing and informative — they should make candidates like you.

Job descriptions should include all your “must-haves,” but be cautious when choosing them.

Which skills and traits are really must-haves? Be realistic, and put everything else in the “nice-to-have” category so you don’t discourage great applicants.

Employee Skill Set

If you need to hire for multiple positions, do that. Don’t stuff everything into one job description.

Also, ditch the Silicon Valley clichés such as “rockstar” and "ninja." Aside from the fact that they are clichés, this type of language in a job description can send subtle signals about culture that can be off-putting to potential hires.

Fair or not, these terms have begun to be associated with the “bro” culture of Silicon Valley, and you may accidentally alienate great potential candidates with diverse backgrounds.

4. Provide an Appealing Work/Life Balance

American work culture is leading to burnout for a large percentage of the workforce. More than half of Americans reported feeling overworked or overwhelmed at least some of the time. Not only does offering an appealing work/life balance attract workers, it can also make your team more productive.

Many companies are beginning to offer perks such as unlimited vacation, sponsored gym memberships, free reading materials, book clubs, and flexible scheduling, which allows employees to get the rest, relaxation, and exercise they need for their well-being.

Having a culture of balance and encouraging workers to unplug at home, relieve stress through exercise, and focus on their families can attract top talent and keep the team happy and productive.

In addition, 23% of millennials say paid vacation is their top priority, so as more of this generation enters the workforce, it will be essential to offer a generous vacation policy.

5. Learn How To Interview

You may think you know how to interview, but old-fashioned interview techniques don’t always give you a good sense of how a candidate will perform and fit in with your company.

Questions like “where do you see yourself in five years” and “what’s your greatest strength” are easy to rehearse, and the answers won’t be the spontaneous give-and-take that’s required to really get to know someone.

Consider changing the atmosphere of the interview to get a better sense of the candidates’ authentic selves. Perhaps take them on a tour of the building, have them meet people on the way, and then take them to lunch.

Patty Stonesifer of the nonprofit Martha’s Table swears by this tactic. A more informal conversation with custom questions that gauge qualities like culture fit and how the candidate is likely to respond to challenges will show you more than talking to someone from behind a desk with a preset list of questions.

6. Offer to Pay for Schooling or Training

Getting the best people (and keeping them) means you’ll need to invest in them. Paying for professional development and ongoing education has two benefits: Your employees will feel more loyal and respected, and you’ll end up with a more skilled workforce.

Big companies see the value in offering tuition assistance in both recruiting and retention.

Some, such as Best Buy, Bank of America, and Comcast, will reimburse a certain amount of tuition expenses for undergraduate and graduate courses each year.

Others have their own custom programs. Starbucks, for example, partners with Arizona State University to offer employees online classes toward a bachelor’s degree.

While some employers can afford to offer tuition reimbursement, not every business has the financial means to do so. Tuition reimbursement is not the only way to provide this perk, however.

You could, for example, sponsor a GMAT test prep courses and pay the $250 testing fee for employees who are interested in going to grad school, or offer flexible scheduling so employees can attend classes.

7. Create a Strong Workplace Culture

Teams thrive on a strong culture. Having a strong culture in place helps in the hiring process immensely because you’ll be able to evaluate each candidate for a culture fit.

How do you create a workplace culture? Start with looking at your organizational values.

You may or may not want to have a more relaxed dress code, lunch delivered on Tuesday, or other perks, but it’s up to you to set the tone and expectations for the organization and create a strong culture.

Netflix is a great example of this. It built a culture of trust and flexibility that allows people to get work done in a way that works best for them and not dictated by certain hours of the day. Evaluation is based on accomplishments, not from micromanagement and number of hours worked.

Top talent responds positively to a strong workplace culture — and these employees will strengthen it and add to it when they come on board.

Patience Is Key

Building the perfect team can get a little frustrating. Although there are hundreds of potential candidates out there, there will be times when it seems like no one will be a perfect fit.

Using these seven strategies and exercising a little patience will pay off in the end, however, when you finally assemble the perfect team to help your company grow and find success.

About the Author

Headshot of Ryan Ayers

Ryan Ayers has consulted a number of Fortune 500 companies within multiple industries including information technology and big data. After earning his MBA in 2010, Ayers also began working with start-up companies and aspiring entrepreneurs, with a keen focus on data collection and analysis.