Home / Specials / Lessons In Entrepreneurship /  Never miss a hire or it will cost you

A great team member can make all the difference in your organization, so failing to recruit a candidate you like is a huge opportunity cost for the company. More than once I have come up short after finding an ideal candidate for the ZipDial team, even when the candidate loved the company right back. This happened once last year in sales and once this year in product. Here are some tips to make sure your dream team does not slip away.

1. Close as soon as you are convinced. When you know a candidate is right, do not hesitate to make an offer and take them off the market immediately. Delay risks the chance of your dream team member taking another job. If they are good, they’ll be in high demand. Aim for no more than two weeks between first receiving an application and making a decision on a candidate.

2. Plan budgets well in advance. To avoid unnecessary delays in rolling out offers, be in sync and 100% agreement with your fellow decision-makers on budgets and hiring plans at least one quarter if not two in advance. Other stakeholders may be your co-founder, your boss, or your board. Whatever the case, plan ahead and be in agreement on hiring plans so you can focus on executing and making immediate decisions.

3. Maintain appropriate independence from investors. If you have investors and a board, be clear on where voting rights apply and when approvals are necessary. One thing we have done well at ZipDial is maintaining a great relationship with our investors and keeping clarity on where approvals are required. Remember that your investors are busy people and you can’t expect to chase them down to approve hiring decisions extremely quickly. Agree on budgets upfront and ensure you maintain enough operational independence to move fast.

4. Use tools and guidelines to coordinate, especially in a young company. If you are a start-up who is not big enough to have a human resources department, you are relying on your busy team members to also support the hiring process with interviews, feedback, candidate referrals, etc. Give them the tools to be effective. Communicate the open positions and preferred profiles regularly to the team. Create simple centralized tools to track candidate feedback. For example, at ZipDial we simply use Dropbox to store profiles and Google Docs to track feedback ratings and comments. We ensure that the peers who will be working most closely with a candidate always interview the person, so this is a way to calibrate across a busy, geographically spread team.

5. Keep the pipeline full. Even when hiring is not urgent, keep your pipeline of candidates full. You cannot anticipate when you will find someone to make a big impact, so keep looking. Hiring takes quite a lot of time, so be aware and balance out your bandwidth. However, don’t be stingy with your time, because the right candidate will make you even more productive.

Valerie R. Wagoner is founder and CEO, ZipDial.

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