Our focus is on recruitment this week, and today I want to talk about the hiring process. Our process is a good bit different than most companies I’ve worked with, but it’s something that’s developed over the course of many years that works.
It’s simple, straightforward, and hopefully could be helpful to you in adjusting or developing your own process.
When we’re looking for a new team member, such as a new developer, designer, or project manager, we always start off with people as contractors. We never bring people on full-time right away.
The reason for this is to allow both parties to test out the new working relationship. This is a natural extension of the self-driven teamwork mentality I discussed in yesterday’s post.
In short, we make it our mission to help team members meet their personal and professional goals. If a team members goals are always aligned with company goals, people will work hard, smart, and well because their success and the success of the company are one in the same. Having them start commitment-free, as a contractor, gives them a chance to try us out, and vice-versa, without needing to make big changes in their lives, move anywhere (we’re remote so they wouldn’t need to anyway), or take a chance on something that may or may not work out.
We can do a small project together and see how we like working together. On our end, it gives us a chance to answer the pertinent questions:
- Are they responsive?
- Are they knowledgeable?
- Can they communicate well?
- Are they good at their job?
- Can they communicate well?
- Do they have good business acumen?
- Are they a good cultural fit for the team?
- And critically, do people on the team like them?
Maybe we’re not a good fit for them. Maybe they’re not a good fit for us. If either is the case, then we’re capable of moving on and trying again with somebody else.
Don’t Pressure-Cook The New Team Members
Pressure cooking, locking them in and turning up the heat, is a perfect analogy for what you don’t want to do with a new hire. Instead, ease them in.
We like to just start off with a small project – something that should be doable for one thousand dollars or less at their hourly rate.
If they can’t do a small job that is in their wheelhouse, then it’s likely not going to be able to do big jobs either.
You also have to keep in mind the person and how much time they have available. Sometimes you find somebody who is already working a full-time job, and they’re, understandably, uncomfortable with just abandoning their full-time job. Our approach allows us to say, honestly, ‘that’s okay’.
In situations like this, it can be wonderfully useful to find them a small job, five to ten hours’ work, and ask them to complete it. Most people love this – small tasks that they’re good at, can work on at their leisure, and will bring in a little extra money. After several rounds of this, we often have people decide that, ‘yes, this work is enjoyable, the people are great, and I can easily ramp up to cover or expand on my current income.’ By this point, we have also had ample opportunity to make certain they mesh with us, as well.
Whether they already have a job or they’re a freelancer we always start small, on little trial projects.
There’s one final benefit to this approach for you, the employer: A lot of people start off strong, then drop off and disappear or just stop producing at the quantity or quality that you need. The contract-start and slow ramp-up prevents this, or at least makes is manageable.
The way this works is we start by sending one project over, and if we like it, we’ll send another. Then another, ad infinitum. I always know the people who are going to be successful – because they get full on work fast because they’re delivering quality work.
Whereas the people who aren’t delivering quality work start calling and asking for more work because team members have stopped sending them work. To which we answer that we’re sending whatever is available. If they’re delivering good quality, we’ll send them more work; if not, they will probably disappear – on our terms, without leaving us in a lurch.
This system isn’t something every business can or should utilize, and sometimes you just need to make a hire to fill a position. But it works for us, and may be useful for you, as well.
Jason Long is the founder and CEO of BrainLeaf. A self professed serial entrepreneur, he is always interested in new businesses, new ideas, and new ways to change the world. He has over 18 years of experience in design and development, he has served in a variety of different roles ranging from designer to CEO. Most of his time is spent working on the build and development of new ventures while traveling the world.