Last updated on June 18, 2017
Hiring is the most important part of growing your company.
As Steve Jobs once said: "The secret of my success is that we have gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world."
But it’s not easy to find and attract the best talent to your company.
We’ve ALL hired someone who wasn’t very good (and yes, I’ve made this mistake before too). Bad hiring costs a lot — and not just money:
Instead of making the same hiring mistake again (and again… and again…), I’m going to show you the step-by-step process to find team members who take your business or idea to the next level.
This is the same process I used behind-the-scenes:
To show you what I mean, we’re going to use an actual job listing I posted on OkDork — and recently filled with an incredible "A" player — as an example.
Let’s dive in.
|BONUS: See my exact OkDork Editor job description|
How did I go from this simple ad...
...to hiring an insanely talented editor?
To find the right person for the OkDork Editor posting, there are a few high-level steps I followed:
Let’s look at how I did it.
(By the way, if you’re in a rush, watch the 6-minute video below to cram the #knowledge.)
You want to hire someone. But what exactly do you want them to do?
This may sound simple, but it’s a huge mistake most hiring managers make — even my friends with 7+ figure businesses, or your favorite Fortune 500 company.
You need to be 100% clear on EXACTLY what you need your ideal team member to achieve. Otherwise, you're setting your future team member (and yourself) up for failure.
To avoid making a failed hire, the first step in my hiring process is to write down a list of tasks I need the new hire to do.
Keep in mind, you don’t need an exhaustive A-to-Z list of every little thing. You just need to clearly reflect how this team member can help your business — and what tasks you need them to handle.
For example, here's the list of tasks I put together for the OkDork editor role:
To accomplish this with your own business, brainstorm EVERYTHING you want your perfect team member to do.
For example, if you want your ideal new team member to do specific marketing tasks with email, you could write “create a new email evergreen automation funnel to drive sales of my new product."
If you want help with content marketing you could say, “research 1-2 new blog posts to write per week. Write down ideas. Pitch as guest posts.”
The key is to define in detail what your perfect team member will do. No broad B.S. like “elevate your career to the next level.”
It blows my mind how many people put together job descriptions in 20 minutes, have someone do a quick QA, and then launch it.
They don’t think about how the posting comes across to a real candidate looking for a job.
They don’t read the posting out loud.
They don’t share the posting with friends or co-workers and ask them to take an in-depth look.
For example, here’s how a big “successful” company even messed this up…
Their listing is all just broad, generic garbage.
“Passionate about content?” Oh, cool, I wrote a short story about a caterpillar and an ant in third grade, does that count? Better apply!
Here’s the problem: Most hiring managers don't create specific requirements. As a result, they get tons of awful applicants, and spend hours sorting through the pile (only to find no one who fits). Waste of time.
Before I go all teacher Noah and start scolding you, I’m guilty of this mistake too. The first job description I wrote for the OkDork Editor role was total shit.
I asked my friend Anton to review — and he tore it to shreds. Here are a few of the edits he made to my first draft:
Here’s the simple truth: If you create a bad listing, you’re going to get bad candidates. If you put together an amazing listing, you’re going to get amazing candidates. It’s as simple as that.
The job description is your chance to sell your role and vision to the best candidates in the business. If you want "A" players applying, you need an "A" sales pitch.
In other words, if you can’t be bothered to make a stand-out job description, candidates won’t be bothered to stand out and do amazing things for your company.
When I wrote the Editor job description for OkDork, I spent around 5 hours planning the role, scoping the assignments, and writing the first draft of the listing. Then, I reviewed it with two people to see where I could improve it and spent another 3 hours finalizing it.
When I’m about to send a job description out, the final test I do is ask myself two questions:
If the honest answer to both these questions is “no,” I go back and make some edits until the answer becomes HELL YES.
To help you write an awesome job description, here’s a super quick outline you can work with based on my Editor listing:
Check out the actual OkDork Editor job description I created below to see how this all looks together.
|BONUS: See my exact OkDork Editor job description (copy this for yourself)|
At the bottom of my job descriptions, I always create a few simple challenge for applicants.
The reason is two-fold:
Instead of wasting hours sorting through dozens of resumes that totally miss the mark, a small test can immediately disqualify some of your worst, most time-consuming candidates.
In the OkDork Editor job listing, I set three tasks for every applicant:
I wish. You’d be amazed how many applicants didn’t follow these instructions.
Here’s a crazy stat for you: 35% of people applied incorrectly!
If your applicant can’t follow simple instructions, you don’t want them joining your team.
My least favorite part about the hiring process is sorting through applications — it’s been so damn time-consuming in the past.
But now, I automate parts of process.
Without spending a second of my time reviewing the first round of applications, I can filter out candidates who didn’t follow my initial instructions. Then, I can automatically send a follow-up to everyone who successfully completed the initial tasks I set.
Here’s how I set up this automation.
Before the wizardry and automation kicks in, you need to build questions for all the applicants who make it past your first quick screening into the second round.
Here are some questions from my Editor role:
Tasks like this make it so simple to filter the 1% who will put in extra effort — and find potential "A" players.
Once I have the questions ready, I create a Google Form which will automatically send to everyone who makes it past the first screening.
While setting up the form, I select “Get email notifications for new responses” so I automatically know when a new candidate has filled out the form.
This is where the magic happens. Let me show you exactly how I automate this process and save hours of my day.
Filtering and emailing successful applicants automatically
Once you’ve written an email to send to applicants who’ve successfully made it past the first screening to round two, save it as a Canned Response.
To enable Canned Responses in Gmail Labs, follow these instructions:
Next, go back to the email and click the “More options” button in the bottom right of your composer window and save it as a canned response:
Last, you want to create a way to filter only the applicants that followed your instructions and simple tasks. For me this meant:
To create this filter, add the success criteria to the search bar within Gmail:
Then click the dropdown menu button on the right side of the search bar and click “Create filter with this search.”
If you want to take specific actions, like archive or label, you can do it now.
For example, here are the specific actions I take:
Boom! Now everyone who emailed their initial application, and followed my instructions, will automatically pass the screening and get an email with round two questions.
Best of all, this is without any manual processing of applicants on my side.
Your dream candidate is in this list of applicants somewhere. Now, you just need to find him or her.
At this stage, you need to filter applicants based on how they handled questions in round two.
It’s super important to do this without any bias, so the first thing I do is hide the names and identifiable information of applicants in the Google Forms results spreadsheet.
What I’m looking for here is:
For quality of answers, If I asked them to draft an email:
Or with the question about Jeff Bezos, I want to see if the applicant simply puts "I'd tweet @jeffbezos and ask" (and that's it) — or if they actually put in the work to find his email address and draft an email I could send him.
Here’s an example of a high-quality answer:
At this stage, I try to get down to around 5 applicants I’d like to move forward for the final round.
Picking a final candidate is often harder than narrowing down from 10,000 to 100 applicants. At this stage, all the candidates have followed directions and given quality answers. It’s your job to pick one.
With only five people left in the application process for the OkDork Editor role, I set another challenge.
At this stage, I give each applicant a real task to complete.
For the OkDork Editor role, I set the task of taking my Jason Fried podcast episode and turning in into a blog post.
I emailed each of the five remaining applicants about the challenge and there were four key parts of this message:
Here’s the exact email I sent:
The final step is a video call with each of the final applicants.
Our call gives me a chance to learn more about each candidate, why they’re excited to work with me, and why they want this role.
I jokingly call it the “weirdo test” but it’s important to speak with each candidate face-to-face before I decide who I’m going to work with. Every hire should take you one step closer to you goal — so spending the time to get the right candidate is critically important.
After you’ve seen how they handled a real-life task and you’ve had a face-to-face conversation, you can make a decision on who to hire.
This process is how I hired my Editor at OkDork. I started with hundreds of applications and cut it down to one person who joined the team and is helping me create amazing content for you.
It’s how I’ve been able to hire 40+ people at Sumo, too. And now you can use this to build your perfect team of "A" players who can take your business to the next level.
Here’s to building an all-star team...