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As we close the final chapters of 2019 and reflect on all of the HR decisions we have made throughout the year as business owners, your mind might first travel to the employee events you’ve had over the year. And by “events”, I mean the rockstars you hired and the ones that just didn’t work out. Why couldn’t all of them be rockstars? Why is it a hit and miss?

The most common thing that I get asked to me when I am describing the type of employee we are going to look for to fill a vacancy is “But is there an employee out there? Do they exist?” and I always assure them that yes there is, and that employees aren’t supposed to be headaches, you should dread hiring. That isn’t healthy. And if that’s your outlook when bringing on new team members, you aren’t doing it right. So as we begin to kick off our recruiting and hiring goals for the business needs that are coming in 2020, here are the Top 4 Things You Should Look for in Any Job Candidate. Keep in mind, these are by no means the only four things you should look for, but rather things that often times get looked over and aren’t considered which then end in hiring a puzzle piece that just doesn’t fit.

Number One: Do they match your standard of excellence?

Standard of Excellence? That might not be a phrase that you use often, but it is one that is extremely important to be completely self aware about. And not just what you wish your standard of excellence was, because no one is by any means perfect, but to actually know yourself and know where you currently sit (and maybe where you hope to work your way into). For example, if you are an extremely organized individual where everything has a place and a label, it’s not going to be the best employment decision to hire someone who is “messy organized” or doesn’t have the attention to detail that you have. The nature that you run your business will have a degree on how specific you are with enforcement of policy, organization, and overall standards. You need employees that are going to mesh well with that. In some cases, you can coach an employee into the standards that you carry if they aren’t quite up to par, but please, don’t bank on being able to do that because it doesn’t always work. Habits are most often set in stone.

On the flip side, if you are a manager who is more “messy organized” and tends to take longer to complete tasks or maybe attention to detail doesn’t matter a whole lot to you, it is going to drive someone away in a short amount of time who is the opposite as you, they will desire to “fix” everything, and then will get frustrated when you don’t allow them to or they can’t. I can personally attest, as someone who is quite specific regarding organization and enforcement of policies, it does not work out to work for someone who doesn’t have the same standards.

Number Two: Are they coachable?

I do not care what industry you are in, what position is being hired for, or how much they are paid. Any employee who is not coachable will become a headache and is in no way worth your time or energy, it doesn’t matter how much experience or skills they have. Being coachable boils down to humility. If they aren’t humble, able to own up to their mistakes, and able to actually digest critical feedback, they are not coachable.

Search for candidates that have the desire to grow, that demonstrate their ability and desire to be coached. Those will be your rockstars. If you think to the employees you currently have that are rockstars, I am 99.99% certain that they are exactly how I just described them. Anyone who is stuck in their ways will not be willing to grow personally, professionally, or with the organization as change occurs (and change is inevitable).

Number Three: Are they competent?

Yes, having the skills required to properly complete and fulfill the job is important. I would never leave this out. Make sure they aren’t selling you on personality only, they need to know what they are doing to be successful and to be worth the investment you are putting into them. Be specific in your job description and in your interviews, do they really know what they are talking about or are they fluffing answers because they are attracted to simply get into the pay scale you are offering or into the great company you have?

There are several ways to judge if a candidate is competent enough for the position and the company altogether, but those are concepts that we will save for another day. As a simple number three, I will state that it is not hard to determine competency if you are dedicated and consistent in doing so. Not only is it crucial for the employee’s success to be able to do the job correctly, but it is also crucial for the success of your other employees to hire only people who have the knowledge and skills that it takes to perform.

Number Four: Are they a long term fit?

Often times, strategic HR planning (such as hiring) is not the most thought out in advance. This creates a mindset of “We needed that position filled yesterday”, which is in no way going to set you, your company, or your employees up for success. Like anything in life, the long term effects of our choices are important to consider when making any decision, and it is no different when hiring employees. Hiring an employee to simply fill a body for a position is guaranteed to set you up for failure. Pure failure. Wasted time, money, energy, and just overall failure. Employees are an investment, just like your time and your company is an investment. If you cannot honestly see the employee being successful within your company in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, and 15 years – do yourself a favor and eliminate them from your client list, you will thank yourself later that you dodged that headache of a bullet.

Like any investment advisor will say, only invest in what is going to give you a good return. It is okay to take some calculated risk for that return, but never invest in something that will cause waste or decrease. Think of me, in this moment, being your HR Investment Advisor – Only invest in an employee that is going to give you a good return. It is okay to take calculated risk when hiring (when you have the information you need), but never invest in an employee that is going to cost you your sanity, your company culture, your time, and your money.

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