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Better Hiring through IT

Puryear IT, like the vast majority of small businesses out there, has the constant struggle of hiring: How do you find, sort, filter, and decide on the best hire for your team? Every company depends heavily on quality staff, but even more so in the service industry.

What makes it even more difficult is that we, as business owners, often put ourselves into high labor situations when it’s absolutely unnecessary.

We need to remember that the majority of operational processes can be automated, delegated, or both. We, as people, should serve only as evaluators and decision makers.

That being said, let’s break down the hiring process and see how SMB’s commonly fail to do it effectively:

Documenting job requirements. Rarely documented well. No job description, explanation of who the positions answers to, or even salary range.
Advertising the job. Postings to local newspaper and perhaps one or two online job boards. No use of referral networks (employees, associates, or friends) to get your job posting in front of top-notch candidates.
Receiving Applications. At best an email address dedicated to incoming resumes and cover letters. Applications are then filed away in paper form or an email Inbox.
Reviewing/Filtering Applications. No clear cut way to objectively decide who “plugs in” the best.Follow-through. Hand-written notes and Outlook calendar events to monitor follow-through as candidates move from application to interview to hire/reject.

As you can see, SMB’s are horrible at hiring. And SMB’s are at a much higher risk of a single bad hire causing significant customer relation and revenue issues-yet we do the least to ensure a quality queue of good candidates.

When I took a step back as CEO of Puryear IT to evaluate our hiring process, I found that we were as guilty as the rest. We had an email Inbox dedicated to cover letters/resumes, we used manual methods to track progress through our hiring queue, we didn’t rely on our friends and peers for referrals, and our follow-through was relatively weak because it was so labor-intensive.

Based on this, I knew that we needed to use people where they work best (evaluating, decision making) and automat processes for the rest (receiving applications, initial screening). Here is how we altered our process to highlight our strengths and use computers for the rest:

Documenting job requirements -> People are the best at documenting job requirements, but a template containing fields for job description, answers-to, and salary-range ensures consistency and streamlines the process. (People win!)
Advertising the job -> We use Theresumator now for our job board, and it will post your job openings to Facebook, twitter, and LinkedIn for you. You can also link to it from Monster.com and even a newspaper ad by using custom URLs. (Computers win!)
Receiving Applications -> We use Theresumator for this. We’ve configured each open job position to require the candidate to fill out basic deal-breaker questions to quickly screen out bad candidates. (Computers win!)
Reviewing/Filtering Applications -> We use Theresumator for this. We can create Evaluations, which are questions with weights assigned, to weed through candidates and assign them scores. Thus, we’re using the computer to track the numbers and people to evaluate what those numbers mean. (Computers and people win!)
Follow-through -> We use the workflow in Theresumator to track all communication and to monitor the status of the candidate in the process, meaning it’s no longer on a piece of paper, in an Inbox, or in the CEO’s head. (Computers win!)

Using this approach, the job left to people in the hiring process is only to evaluate and decide. The software does the rest, including organizing, filtering, and tracking state.

Sometimes in business we get so focused on the details that we forget that people are not very good at ensuring that those very details are being tracked, processed, and completed. We need to take a step back and ensure we’re working on what we do best: decision making. We can automate or at least streamline the rest.

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