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How to: NOT hire staff

by Max Jones / Monday 11th September 2017


Starting your own recruitment business is easy, isn’t it? Leaving the security of paid employment, taking the risk and starting your own recruitment agency? Pfft… that’s the easy part. Am I right?

Of course I’m not!

Starting your own recruitment business is tough work, it’s not as simple as handing in your notice, abiding by your restrictions from your previous employers and then recruiting in your own business – I am sure we all wish it was!

But, for the sake of example, let’s say you overcame that hurdle, or should I say those hurdles (!) and start your own recruitment business, get the provisions in place to legally trade and start to build your own recruitment business, in the way you wanted with the client you want. You’re set – am I right?

Ironically enough, sometimes the first 9-12 months of a recruitment business is actually the “easy” part. It’s you and your business; you and your clients; you and your working day. No distractions, no employees and hopefully less complications. But within the first 9-12 months, like many of our fantastic ventures, you (rightfully) are looking to the future. A future with more clients, more candidates, more revenue and ultimately more profit. But where there’s more work, there’s more demand and with more demand comes the call for new employees into your recruitment agency.

You’ve guessed it – you’re at THAT stage. One of the most challenging and, sometimes, discombobulating phases in a small businesses lifetime – the first hire. Some work, some don’t work – and even the most fantastic ventures we have supported over the years have had trouble in the hiring process.

And the trouble normally engrains itself very early in the process, most likely taking form at the very start when you are toying with the idea. The reason WHY you want to hire your first employee is usually where the trouble begins and, in the experience of SSG, there have always been 3 very apparent reasons why people hire when they just shouldn’t.

1: They’re stressed

Quite often, despite the advice of the SSG support team, a hiring decision is made in the heat of a very unnerving or stressful time for the venture. This could be in a period of “good” stress or “bad” stress; “good” stress can be seen as having more work than one person can humanly handle and therefore the hiring process is done in a fit of stress and overwhelm because you associate not making this hire with losing out on new business.

and then there’s “bad” stress; the stress that comes with not having any work, not having enough work to rationalise working for yourself and therefore associating a new hire with “fresh blood” to make money for the business and therefore carry the business through this slightly challenging period.

2: They’re lonely

The dog’s uninterested, the partners at work and the kids have gone back to school – face it, you loved having them around and while it was a little frustrating because you couldn’t really “get on” while they were in the house, my goodness you miss that interaction.

A lot of our ventures feel this, and as a support team we have always had to appreciate and sympathise with that – after all, it is a very lonely occupation in the first instance, there’s no denying that. However, bringing on a new hire hoping to fill that void with an employee is not something we tend to advise. Quite simply because ventures soon realise there was no demand for that employee to come on board.

Hiring out of loneliness, rather than desire or demand means that you don’t quite know what it is exactly that that employee will be doing for your business. You might be able to muddle through the first week or two, but come month 2/month 3 – unless you have defined a set of responsbilies and clear expectations for this new hire (above simply “keeping you company”), your hire will be rightfully pretty confused, pretty ineffective and unproductive for you. If you’re lonely, talk to those professionals around you – don’t simply hire an employee!

3: They’re unsure

Hiring is such a definite process; such a clear indication of intent for both yourself and your business. There isn’t many things when starting and running a recruitment business that are a more clear cut indication of your intentions than hiring staff and expanding your business. Sometimes, and we’ve seen it many times over the years so we’d have to be idiots not to have picked this up over the years, ventures hire because they feel this will give them the drive and ambition to build a business.

However, like most things in life - if you don’t really want it, it’s not going to work long term. Hiring is something that you need to be absolutely sure upon, absolutely clear that this is the direction you want to take your business. Of course, you can always downsize again, I’m not in any way saying that once you hire someone you can’t change that structure again (!) – I’m saying, the most successful ventures we’ve supported over the years have been very clear of 3 things; who they want to hire, why they want to hire them and how hiring that new employee will make the them feel.

Closing thoughts

Once you are sure you want to hire, you’ve outlined why you feel you need that hire and you know the direction you want to take your business; then you need to always be hiring. Always be recruiting and always be looking to grow your business. There is nothing worse than hiring out of desperation – like we spoke about in Point 1 – hiring out of “good” stress is something that can be easily overcome by always being on the lookout for new hires, new employees and new fantastic individual to join your fantastic venture.