If you are like me, and business has taken off lately, you might be short on time because you are fully booked with client work. Just what we hoped for, right? And at the same time, it’s probably become very hard to keep up with marketing activities and other non-deadline oriented goals you need to reach to keep your pipeline full.
So… how can you find the help you need for activities like posting your blog article to your website, sending out your newsletter, adding fresh content to your social channels, keeping up with your marketing campaigns, and scheduling get-acquainted calls with new clients? Where do you start?
When my business took off I hired my first assistant. And through a stroke of luck, it turned out to be a successful hire. At that time I was feeling completely overwhelmed with work, and as a result, (and due to a lack of experience in hiring) I hired the first person I thought might be a good fit (it was another neighborhood mom). Luckily, this worked out.
This year I hired my third team member, and I’m here to share a few strategies I’ve learned along the way. It’s an important thing to get right, because if you are anything like me, your team members are the single biggest investment you make in your business.
The book that gave me the most guidance on how to write a job description is the book Who, by Geoff Smart and Randy Street. From this book, I created a job scorecard which included the mission of the job (to free up my time so I could deliver more websites) and the outcomes I expect (process all forwarded emails, post newsletter and blog article weekly, schedule all meetings).
If you are hiring your first assistant, a good strategy for creating a scorecard is to write down everything you do for an entire week. When I did this, I found that I spent almost 10 hours processing emails, 3.5 hours scheduling meetings, 4 hours on my newsletter and blog post, 1.5 hours scanning and e-filing notes, and 8 hours project managing. The other 14 hours I spent delivering website design services. I needed more hours to deliver websites!
Once I had a scorecard drafted, I posted the position to craigslist. As an initial screening strategy, I requested that all interested applicants submit a cover letter explaining why the position interested them and how they were uniquely qualified (this allowed me to evaluate their writing skills). As the second part of this initial screen, I asked them to put the following in the subject line: “Response to Exec. Admin. Job Opening”. It’s kind of a weird sentence, right? This indicated whether or not they read the entire description and if they could follow instructions.
If they passed this first screen, (they could write effectively and follow instructions) I scheduled a phone interview. If this went well, only then did I schedule an in-person meeting.
In the book Who, they recommend a series of questions that I used verbatim. The results were very enlightening. Working chronologically through each previous employment situation, I asked the candidate the following questions:
- What were you hired to do?
- What accomplishments were you most proud of (this brings forth strengths, and puts them at ease)
- What were some low points during the job (this brings forth interesting info, and can uncover weaknesses)
- Who were the people you worked with? (did they get along with others?)
- Why did you leave that job? (you don’t want to hear that they were let go)
This series of questions helped me to really get to know each candidate. I ended up hiring my second choice, and this was the right choice in retrospect. My business mentors and coaches have consistently told me that my second choice is always the best choice!
How did your first hire turn out? Send me a note and let me know.