Recruiting Preliminaries

Before you go out there and begin recruiting like mad, take a minute to consider the following questions. These should help you reach the insights you need to take the next steps, place your job ads, and find that winning staff member.

Do I Really Need Another Employee?

The first step in recruiting and hiring is to consider carefully whether or not you really need another employee. Is your business as efficient as it could be? Is there anything you could do to streamline your operation so you won't have to hire another staff member?

The other consideration is financial. Take a good look at your budget and figure out how much a new employee would cost you, versus how much they could potentially increase your profits. Can you afford to hire another person? Remember that you have to pay at least minimum wage, and you'll be responsible for payroll taxes and certain state and federally mandated benefits like Workers' Compensation. Also keep in mind that you'll have to train a new person and this will cost you time and resources. If you're unsure of the benefits of hiring another person or think you might only be facing a brief surge in work, you might want to consider hiring a temporary employee. This is also a great way to find an employee you might eventually want to hire long-term.

If it looks like you don't need another employee, your work is done. However, if you find that you will need more staff members, keep reading before you place that job ad.

What Does the Job Actually Entail?

If you decide to hire another employee, you'll need to pinpoint exactly what your new staff member will be doing. Having a vague sense of this is not enough. The clearer you are about what you need, the more likely you are to find the right candidate.

This process will vary slightly, depending on whether you're hiring your first employee or filling an existing position.

Hiring Your First Employee

If you've never hired someone before, begin by asking yourself these questions:

  • What tasks can you comfortably hand off to someone else?
  • What would you like to eliminate from your schedule so you can do other, more important things with your time?
  • What decisions are you comfortable leaving to another person?
  • What level of authority do you want to give to a new employee?
  • What kind of character traits do you feel are essential in this business?
  • What kinds of people do you enjoy working with?
  • Are there any weaknesses in your own style that another person could balance out? For example, if you own a coffee shop and love dealing with the public but hate keeping track of inventory, perhaps it would be best to hire a very detail-oriented person who loves organizing and scheduling.

You might also want to canvas your colleagues. Ask people in related industries or businesses how they went about hiring their employees, and see if they can give you any good advice.

Replacing an Employee Who's Leaving

If you're replacing an existing employee, you'll still want to take time to reassess what you require for this position. You may discover that the job has changed, or that it's time to make some adjustments to what's required of the person in this position. The best way to determine this is to talk to the current employee and discuss whether or not the job has changed or should change, and what skills are vital to the position.

What Kind of Skills Does the Position Require?

Now that you know exactly what the job entails, it should be easy to figure out what kinds of skills and experience you'll want in a candidate. You might want to start by filling in a Job Requirements Checklist, which will help you summarize the specific skills, requirements, and abilities the job requires.


Generally, you'll want to hire someone who has some experience working in the position you need to fill. However, it's often difficult to find a perfect match. You may want to consider broadening your experience requirements, particularly for entry-level jobs. This way, you'll be more likely to find people who might have the skills and abilities you require, even though they might have developed them in different jobs. For example, if you need an administrative assistant, you could ask for two years of clerical experience. However, if the job involves typing, filing, answering phones, and running the office, the skills you need might be summarized as "good organizational skills" or "excellent written and verbal skills with attention to detail". You might find that someone who used to manage a retail store or worked as a hotel clerk is just as well qualified for the job as someone who has already worked in an office for 2 years.


When you advertise your job opening, keep in mind that an education is not always received in school. Real-life experiences, hobbies, vocational training, or classes taken at junior colleges or community centers might be just as valuable (if not more relevant) as a bachelor's degree. One way to mention education in your advertisement might be to say "Bachelor's degree or equivalent experience required". If you employ 15 people or more, be aware that advertising educational requirements can invite discrimination claims against you. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states that employers cannot set educational requirements so high that they exclude certain protected groups of people from being hired or promoted. In this case, the best bet is to focus on the skills you require, not the schooling. If the job absolutely requires a certain degree or level of education, be prepared to justify it.