Recruiting Employees from Subscribers

Recruiting Employees from Subscribers

John August is a screenwriter in Los Angeles. Earlier this year, he decided it was time to hire a new employee.   His hiring process, as best I can determine from reading the post.

1.  Decide it was time, which involved recognizing that, although he could do everything, he could not do everything well, and doing everything even to some extent meant he wouldn’t do as much of the work he really liked.

2.  Recognize he has faith in his employee selection process.

3.  Advertise the position on his blog.  This works if his readers are likely to be employee candidates.  (This is vastly more likely for some businesses than others.  Screenwriter, in LA, looking for help?  Could it get any better?  This isn’t exactly dog walking in Duluth.)

4.  Provide a comprehensive list of duties, that is, a job description, in the form of problems that need to be solved.  Heck, I could solve some of them.  But I don’t want to.  That list of activities is not the way I want to be spending my time.

5.  Clarity about what the position does NOT involve:

You’ll notice that “writing” is nowhere in these criteria. To date, all of my assistants have been screenwriters, and all of them are now working in the industry. But I don’t see this new position as being a particularly good stepping stone for an aspiring screenwriter.

Presumably, John August will have an interview question or two designed to flush out  a skulking screenwriter masquerading as a tech guru.

6.  Clear description of the hiring process, with next steps and a timeline.   Note that the description of what he wants to see in the job application is as much a “test” as is the assignment mentioned in step 2.  I expect a number of candidates fell out because they didn’t follow instructions.  For this position, following instructions matters.

7.  Money:  not in terms of salary, per se, but a fair offer.

I’ll give each candidate a small budget and a reasonable deadline to come up with a site for a specific project, such as The Remnants. We’ll have coffee and talk about what you did and why.

John is not looking to steal anyone’s design work.  He’s making it clear that he’s prepared to pay (at least a little) for a “test run.”  Many people who hire designers believe this is an essential step.  It’s too easy, in some fields, to create a portfolio of work that isn’t really yours.  (One of my friends had someone apply for a position, claiming creation of a website that my friend had created!  While the candidate got a point for “good taste,” he lost a lot more points on “poor research skill.”)

On Checklists

Johns says,

After a string of terrific and very different assistants, I’ve learned that hiring someone is never a matter of checklists. Each employee brings experiences and abilities that change the nature of the job.

For most of my readers, this is both “right” (applicable) and “wrong” (not helpful). Here’s why:
1. John August has hired employees before. In addition, he’s hiring highly skilled help, one person at a time, to do work he can do himself.
2. His overall business presence will (probably) not be affected if this hire doesn’t work out.
3. Many of my readers are hiring a very different type of employee, with very different consequences for getting it wrong (anyone hiring people to make home visits, for example).
4. Checklists are the quickest way to get it right, repeatedly. Checklists work for pilots and doctors. Hiring checklists will work for you, too.

That said,

Each employee brings experiences and abilities that change the nature of the job.

And of the company itself. Culture is what happens when you and the employees you select do the work of your business the way you want it done.  The people you chose to work with you in your business will change both the work and the culture of your business.  Make sure you follow a process that can provide you with the best employees you can find.

How have your first employees affected the your business’ culture?