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How to Hire the Right People

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Each job requires a different skill set, but the highest achievers tend to have some common characteristics: Passion, Loyalty, Utility, Reliability, and Achievement.

Passion.  Jim Collins, author of the venerable Good to Great once said “…the best performers across virtually every field have a single-minded passion for what they do”.   During his famous Stanford commencement speech, Steve Jobs said passion was the reason he returned to Apple, the company he created, after they fired him: “I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”  There are countless quotes on this, and it’s nearly cliché to say, but it’s no coincidence that “passion” runs throughout every great organization.   Hire someone that seems genuinely passionate about what the job entails.

Loyalty.  Long stays at prior employers is a sign that candidates are valued.

Conversely, if a resume shows 6 different jobs in the last 5 years it’s obviously a giant red flag; the candidate left either because the companies asked him to do so, or because he’s an opportunist.  Either way, pass on these resumes. Hire someone with a track record of loyalty.

Utility.  Particularly for small businesses it’s important to hire someone with experience, who can hit the ground running.  Think of this as the Swiss-army-knife of employees; you can plug them into nearly any role and they will have the tools required to get the job done.  Hire someone with experience that can be used interchangeably in many different roles.

Reliability.  Many managers take for granted those employees that always show up every day to work, and always find a way to say “yes” to special projects/requests.  Hold onto those people because there are fewer of them than you think.  The best way to confirm this is by calling each of their past two managers and asking candid questions.  Hire someone with a track record of reliability and flexibility.

Achievement.  “Past performance predicts future behavior.”  In sports, the best players find a way to win games.  In business, the best employees find a way to succeed in tough situations; they are usually smarter, luckier, and more driven than their competitors…none of which can be taught.  Average candidates will say “I helped the company grow revenue 12%”.  Strong achievers say “I managed a team of 12 that received an Impact Award after generating a 12% increase in revenue and a 15% increase in contribution margin due to SKU rationalization”.  People that have a track record of achievement always seem to find a way to win and repeat their success.  Hire someone with a track record of winning.

For further information, contact Brandon Hinkle at Brandon is the Co-Founder and CEO of, a free online matchmaker between banks and small businesses seeking debt financing.