The Entrepreneur Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in America’s startup scene contribute answers to timely questions about entrepreneurship and careers. Today’s answer to the question “How do you know it’s time to hire more employees?” is written by Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of LaSalle Network.
When I started LaSalle Network in 1998, we had three employees and 1,500 square feet of office space. We wanted to expand, but we knew that any new hires had to fit the culture like a glove. The smaller your company is, the more important it is to genuinely like who you hire. Personality in a small environment is just as important as hard skills.
Now, 18 years later, with four offices nationwide and nearly 200 employees, we’re still calculated in our hiring, but our approach has evolved with our needs and goals.
Though no two companies are the same, you should always remain focused on the nuances of your company and match the hiring to fit them. Here are some tips for doing just that:
Outline your goals
Ask yourself where you want to be in six months, one year, or even six years from now: Where do I want the company or my team to be? What are our goals, and can we realistically achieve them with the staff we have now? If the answer is no, then you might need to add talent.
Motivate current staff
What if the answer is maybe? The gray area is oftentimes where companies live. In those cases, think about whether you have anyone internally who’s ready to rise to the occasion. Why hire someone new over the rock star who’s been proving himself or herself and is going to get promoted eventually anyway? Consider the ramifications. Hiring someone rather than promoting an employee who has worked hard and proven themselves can demotivate not only the employee, but the entire team. Knowing when to hire is just as much about knowing when not to hire.
Always be interviewing
The right time to interview is before there’s a need.
Consistently bringing candidates in creates a pipeline of talent. It also helps you understand the market better: What are salary expectations? What skills do candidates have or are they lacking? Are there benefits packages that are more attractive? When it comes time to hire, you’ll be prepared to make a competitive offer to the best candidate.
Keep in mind that you won’t find all of the talent in your backyard. Find ways to expand your network. Go to trade shows in different cities. With a growing skills gap, it’s important to have a hand in as many jars as possible so you don’t strike out on talent.
I’m a big karma guy. In my experience, there’s a lot of reciprocity in the marketplace when it comes to hiring. If you’re good about giving advice and referrals, you’ll find it easier to pull candidates from a variety of pools when it’s your turn.
Implement trial periods
My first hire was the wrong hire. I kept that person on for too long when I should’ve just ripped the Band-Aid off because they weren’t right for the role. Trial periods ease the burden.
It’s easier to be upfront when there’s an agreement that both sides are taking a test drive. Instead of having only full-time roles, try selling positions as temp-to-perm. It tends to attract open-minded people who are willing to work hard to prove themselves. It allows the company and the candidate to feel each other out and be candid about what each side is gaining. And if they’re successful—congratulations! You just found your next all-star with minimal risk.