Watch out for potential candidates

There comes a time in the life of most small businesses when it dawns on the owner that his or her managers are incapable of taking the company to the next level. If the company is to expand, the owner must hire from outside. Should the owner recruit this person? Or is an outside expert required?

While most large firms don’t think twice about hiring executive search firms, small firm owners will understandably hesitate before committing to a fee that could reach $ 70,000 or so for a marketing manager. As an entrepreneur, however, you should keep in mind that such thinking can be shortsighted.

Engaging in a search like this by your self is not at all like looking or secretaries, supervisors or data entry clerks. When you are looking to hire a key executive to help run your firm, chances are you are not going to find him or her by placing ads or using most of the other traditional sources. For one thing, the person you seek is probably not reading the want ads.

So, what you’ll end up with is a drawer of resumes of people who are, for one reason or another, out of work, unhappy with their work, or unsuited for your job. It will then fall on you try to find several gems in this group by devoting the time to interview and asses these applicants.

This is harder than it sounds even for someone familiar with the basics of HR. First, you may not even know where to place or how to write the ads, you won’t know where to search, who to contact or how to dot he sort off job needs to be one to screen out the laggards and misfits who may appear on the surface to be viable candidate. You also won’t enough to really do the kind of background checking that a position at this level requires. Second, this process is going to be time consuming and will divert your attention from other duties. Many business find that hen they consider the opportunity cost (of not making sales calls for instance) they are not saving any money at all.

If you do decide to do the job yourself (even if you retain a recruiter) consider retaining an industrial psychologists to spent four or five hours assessing the problem solving ability personality, interests, and energy level of the two or three candidates in which you are most interested. The input can provide a valuable perspective on the candidates.

Exercise special care when recruiting applicants from competing companies. Always check to see if applicants are bound by non-compete or nondisclosure agreements, or instance. In general even without a written contract, courts generally hold that employees have a duty of loyalty tot heir current employers during their employment. For example, they are generally expected to maintain the confidentiality of employer information such as customer lists. To the extent that the hiring manager participates in any breach of that loyalty – fro instance, inquiring about customers’ buying patterns or about new products under development – the hiring manger may share in the liability for the breach.

If you’re a department manager with an open position to fill in a Fortune 500 company, even you may find you have a dilemma. You may find that your local HR office will do little recruiting other than perhaps placing an ad in or other recruiting Web Sites On the other hand, your firm almost surely will not let you place you own help wanted ads. What to do? Use word of mouth to advertise your open position within and outside your company. Make sure everyone in your company who may conceivably know of a candidate knows that the position is open, and what it entails. And, contact your fiends and colleagues in other firms to let them know you are recruiting and so watch out for possible candidates.