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July 20, 2009

Thoughts On Hiring - Our Approach

July 20, 2009

I think a lot about hiring. How to attract and retain top talent. I've worked with companies that have had major turnover issues and I've seen the negative impact it has had on their growth and their clients. I've also seen companies that have been afraid to let long time employees go even though the company had moved on and the employee was clearly no longer the right fit. So, how do you achieve healthy, sustained growth?

Small Box has a different approach to hiring and it seems to be working. We've had no turnover in almost 4 years of business. Here's how we approach it.

No-one starts full time. I believe in a good "courting" period before "marriage". All full time employees, outside of Joe and myself who founded the company, have started part time. This gives us a good chance, on both sides, to figure out if there is a match on a professional and cultural level. Can they do the job and do we get along?

Sometimes it becomes clear that a full time position isn't the right relationship for either party. Sometimes we move quickly into full time when it's clear we have a rising star.

I don't spend much time, if any, looking at resumes. I do like to look at what people have done but I find resumes next to worthless in general. Every employee we have hired has come through our various networks. As we hire more employees we increase our network.

Some business folk will argue that you shouldn't hire friends. I disagree. Now, firing friends can be hard but I've done it before, at a past company, and if done right it's not too horrible. I see many upsides to working with friends.

  • Communication: you know how to communicate since you've been doing it for a while already.
  • Culture: you already share this so it's easy to have a good vibe around the office.
  • Accountability: you know this person isn't going to flake.
  • Tough Times: if your company goes through a tough patch there is no better team than one that is on a friendly basis with each other.

I don't want to act like we have it all figured out. I expect many HR challenges as we continue to grow. But I do feel that limiting a company's growth around a healthy hiring process will result in a much more profitable business down the road.

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