When you first start outsourcing, you really don’t know what you’re doing – unless of course, you learn from someone who has done what you want to do 😉
But seriously, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you end up winging it and figuring things out as you go. And of course, you’re bound to make mistakes – which I totally did.
So to help you avoid the mistakes I made, I’m sharing 6 hard-earned lessons with you when it comes to hiring help for your business.
1. Dig for Juicy Intel
I know, research is a boring thing to do, but it’s such an important part of the process. You don’t want to just hire the first person you come across because you’re desperate for help, or you just want to get going already.
I’ve personally hired people based on referrals from colleagues, doing cold google searches, and using sites like elance and Fivver. And based on my experiences with all of these methods, I’ve had the best results from colleague referrals – though there have been some “misses” with this too.
And that’s the thing – there’s bound to be hits and misses with every approach. But if you take the time to do your research, you’ll be in a much better place to make an informed decision when the time comes.
What does doing research entail?
It just means doing your due diligence BEFORE you reach out to a potential contractor about their services. For instance, you can thoroughly review the contractor’s website, you can look them up on social media, you can google their name, you can reach out to the people who provided them with testimonials, and you can sign up for their mailing list – those are all things that can help you build a profile of the person/business.
Pssst! Make sure you check out my list of recommended contractors if you’re looking for help.
MISTAKE: Hiring someone without doing your research can lead to frustration, wasted time, and lost money. Someone may initially look and sound good, but a little digging can reveal things about them that don’t align with your mission + values.
For Example: You check out their Facebook page or you friend them and scope out their profile – and you discover that they have a very negative attitude and are a chronic complainer, which will most likely effect their interactions with clients and the work they perform.
LESSON: Never jump in and hire someone without first peeling back the layers to see what may be hidden just out of sight.
2. Do it Like a Pro
There was a time, years ago, when I didn’t conduct a formal interview. My process was a quick couple of emails, and we were off and running. Not ideal.
Fortunately though, I was pretty lucky in that I snagged some awesome peeps this way, but I also had some flops too. Which really, if you think about it, can happen whether you do a formal interview or not.
So what’s the big deal about doing interviews?
Well, there’s actually a lot of good reasons to jump on a skype call with someone for an interview. But the main one, is that talking with someone will give you a good feel for the person’s attitude and personality, something that you can’t get from email.
For Example: If you were hiring a project manager, do you want a giggly person who has trouble answering your on-the-spot questions for the job, or do you want someone with a more serious, get down to business attitude for the position?
If you’re like me, you probably want someone who knows how to have fun and laugh and joke when it’s appropriate, but you also want someone who takes the job seriously and gets your tasks done. On the flip side, you probably don’t want to work with someone who comes across as grouchy and negative either. But you really can’t get a bead on someone without speaking to them in person.
You can also learn a lot about someone by their response to your verbal questions. If they struggle to answer your basic interview questions, they’re probably not the right person for you. You want someone who knows what they’re doing, and a written reply gives that person time to think about their answers – and they shouldn’t have to think about it, they should just know.
MISTAKE: Hiring someone without verbally speaking to them on skype, doesn’t give you a real feel for someone. They may sound good on paper, but their attitude and personality could be way out of alignment with the type of person you want to work with.
It also takes a certain type of person for some positions within your company, so you want to make sure that the person you hire fits the position. Imagine hiring someone with a wicked awesome background to manage your client care emails, who then turns out to be a grouchy, negative-nelly – eek!
LESSON: Always schedule and conduct a formal interview call with a potential hire. Have your list of interview questions in front of you, and be prepared to take notes that you can review later.
3. Don’t Commit…Yet
As entrepreneurs who mostly work online, we want things instantly because truthfully, we’ve come to expect it. We buy a course, we download it a few minutes after we hit the buy button. We buy a book…poof – seconds later, there it is on our ipad for our reading pleasure. We buy a physical product, pay a little extra, and there it is on our doorstep the very next day.
We’ve been conditioned to expect things instantly. So is it really any surprise when, God forbid, it takes more than a minute for the email to show up in our inbox with our download link – that we’re so quick to email support all upset because we didn’t get our download, or hit paypal and file a payment dispute, or any other number of reactions, just because something didn’t happen fast enough for us?
Our need for “instant” satisfaction, can leak into all areas of our business and push us to make quick decisions to satisfy that need. Unfortunately, applying this approach to your hiring process can be detrimental.
MISTAKE: Here’s the thing: When you’re on the phone with a potential hire, and you’re feeling fabulous + excited about the person you’ve been talking to, you’re not really in a place to be objective. In fact, you’re more likely to hire the person on the spot, and that’s something that can come back and bite you in the butt later.
LESSON: Always end the interview on a positive note, but never make a verbal commitment. Instead, thank your potential hire for their time, and let them know that you are going to review your interview notes, and that you’ll be in touch with them soon.
Give yourself at least 24 hours to sit with the interview. You’ll find that doing so may bring up additional questions that you need answers to before you can commit, or niggly feelings will come up about the person and something will suddenly feel “off”, or any number of things can happen after the call. So don’t rush it. Give yourself the time you need to make an informed decision.
4. Hmm…Maybe it’s a Red Flag
Liking doing interviews, asking for references wasn’t something that I used to do – mostly because I was hiring peeps based on recommendations from trusted colleagues, so I didn’t really need to ask for them.
But as my business grew, and the need for more support arose, I found that I had to search much further afield to find people, so asking for references became a part of my process. And sure, they could be made up references by a friend or family member – BUT if you ask them for detailed information about their references, it will be much harder to fake (think social media, websites, etc.).
MISTAKE: Not asking for references from a potential hire is only doing half your research. The key is to give yourself as much information about a person as possible, so it really doesn’t hurt to ask. You never know, a past client your potential hire thought would give them a glowing recommendation, may come back with some juicy intel about what it was really like working with that person.
LESSON: At the end of every interview, ask for a list of references. If the contractor is as experienced as they say they are, they should have a list of current and past clients that they can pull from. However, if they can’t send you even one name – it could be a red flag (whether the person was misleading you, or they’re really not good at what they do and they’re afraid of what someone else might tell you).
Once you have a couple of references, do your research on them – look at their websites, scope out their social media profiles, and email them about their experience working with your potential hire. You could even take it further by reaching out to the people who gave that reference testimonials, and check them out.
5. Bite Your Tongue Before You…
In the past, I’ve definitely bitten off more than I could chew when it came to working with someone. I was so gung-ho about my plans, and the person seemed like a good fit – but then things didn’t quite go as I expected, and I had to back-peddle after agreeing to something.
Not a good feeling. And not the way I like to do business. So lesson learned (the hard way).
MISTAKE: When you hire a new contractor, bite your tongue and don’t make promises about the amount of work you’ll be giving them, or talk about pay raises, etc., right out of the gate BEFORE you’ve had a chance to really work with them. It’s so easy to get excited, especially if you feel really good about the person after the interview, but it can put you in a difficult situation later if things don’t work out as you expected.
LESSON: As soon as you make the decision to hire someone, let them know right from the beginning that you want to do a 30-day trial run to make sure that you’re a good fit for each other. Don’t sign any contracts that will legally lock you into working with them for a certain number of months. Then use the 30-days to train them, assign tasks to them, and work out any kinks.
Within that first month, you’ll know whether or not you’ll be able to work together long-term. If you find that you’re not a good fit, you can let them know your feelings and part ways knowing that you did not promise them more than a 30-day trial run.
6. Listen + Trust Yourself
A potential contractor may do everything right – you have an amazing interview and she’s given you awesome references, but after all of that, there’s still a little niggly feeling coming up for you that you can’t quite put your finger on. From my own experience, I ask that you please listen to your gut and trust yourself.
MISTAKE: Ignoring your own intuition about someone could lead you to hire someone that you shouldn’t have. Your gut could simply be trying to tell you that you’re not going to be a good fit for each other, even though the person is a rock-star at what they do. Or it could be telling you to keep looking because there’s someone better for you.
LESSON: Give yourself the space and time to listen with your heart and not just your head. Your head will be looking at all the external things and will see how good everything seems to be, but your heart will go within and beyond that. So think about the person and pay attention to how it feels in your body, and if you’re getting nigglies, explore it further. Maybe it’s just nerves because it’s your first time hiring someone, or maybe there was something small and insignificant that happened during the interview, but it stuck with you for some reason and needs to discussed further. Just don’t ignore this part of yourself that is trying to help. Give it the attention it deserves.