Guest Columnist

Column: Save money by hiring the right people

Guest ColumnistJune 10, 2013 

Guest columnist Sheon Wilson

Keith Langbo figures his former employer wasted millions over 10 years hiring the wrong people. That doesn’t include the cost of lost productivity and replacing the hire down the road.

He doesn’t want small businesses to make the same mistakes.

“I made my fair share of bad hires over the years,” said Langbo, founder of Kelaca, a recruiting and staffing company in Raleigh. “Either they weren’t the right person for the team or the company or the job wasn’t right for them. And often we didn’t use a good qualitative process to find the right people.”

A Harvard study found that 80 percent of employee turnover was because of bad hiring decisions. The Labor Department estimates it can cost an average of one-third of a new hire’s annual salary to replace that person.

Langbo ventured out on his own when he started Kelaca. The company focuses primarily on the information technology, engineering, professional, creative/digital and scientific industries.

He embraces the new-school version of hiring: using technology such as computer applicant tracking systems, new media such as Monster, Craigslist and LinkedIn and human interaction through networking, referrals and one-on-one recruiting.

Kelaca said one big mistake he sees is hiring unqualified relatives and friends.

“A lot of companies have gone down the friend-and-family hiring front and they hired people more out of deference to the relationship than because of them being a match to the skills and culture,” he said. “It tends to cloud the relationship and how the person may be treated or evaluated.”

Here are his tips for hiring the right people:

• Cut the emotion. “If all I relied on was my gut and emotion-driven feelings, I would miss out on the great parts of people,” he said. “Figure out: Does that person fit into your strategy, have the skills, the culture fit? And is he in sync with your goals?”

• Hire strategically. “We need to think about how this person will fit in three years, five years down the road.” Is your goal to expand throughout the Southeast? A great hire will have experience beyond the Triangle.

• Hire a hiring professional. Typically only businesses with more than 250 employees have human resources departments; most small businesses don’t have hiring expertise. “Companies outsource their IT, they outsource their website because they need people who are better at it. So why wouldn’t you outsource your hiring? Finding the right people is the most important part of any small business.”

• Don’t “post and pray.” Job boards attract candidates, but you’re limited to the people who respond. “So you’ve lost out on all the passive candidates who aren’t necessarily looking but would consider the right opportunity.” Use job boards, social media and the human touch. “We have a chance to use the job boards, and we are letting human interaction become part of the process, too.”

Sheon Wilson is a writer and personal branding specialist who lives in Durham. Follow her on Twitter @SheonWilson.

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