I Needed to Start over

She was a recommendation. Someone told me I should hire her, so I did. I juggled so many things that when I interviewed her, I basically told her to grab anything from me and start juggling too.

Oranges, bowling pins, knives. Any of it, please just help me not drop anything.

Looking back, I had no idea how to hire someone, so it's no surprise we went our separate ways two years later.

Since then, I've completely changed the way the company hires, but I want to share three major points that have helped our process, so you can use them too.

Don't Get Fancy – When it comes to creating a job description, resist the temptation to sound uber professional (or legit). I used to write job descriptions like a college thesis to somehow prove I was a bona fide business owner, but it resulted in people being confused or, worse, made the applicant think the job was as interesting as working at the morgue. Keep job listings short, simple, and write it in a way that appeals to your dream coworker (if it doesn't read like a letter you wrote your mom from summer camp, rewrite it until it's THAT easy to understand).

Don't Get Technical – I once paid a graphic designer to create a job listing. Of the worst business investments I've made, this ranks near the top…not because it wasn't beautiful (it was), but it wasn't functional. It was too long, the formatting was ridiculous, and looked more like a brochure than an actual listing. Not a single person applied from that listing. Not. A. Single. Person. For years I worried our job listings needed to look like a sleek marketing piece, but I recently saw a huge tech company link to a Google doc for a job listing. A GOOGLE DOC?! And you wanna know the best part? It was so easy to read, access, understand, and get someone to apply. (Side note: all of our career applications begin with just a simple email).

Don't Be Afraid to Ask for What You Need – Sometime last year I got a LOT of heat for a listing and an application requirement (this is actually a low-key way to describe how I wanted to hide in bed for two weeks and throw my phone away). At the time, we were hiring for a copywriter and one of the application requirements was to complete an assignment so we could assess their writing style and point of view. Sounds innocuous enough, right? Well, the trolls on the internet yelled “WRONG!!!” Job boards lit up in fury, people made social posts making fun of me, and blog posts called for immediate action. Apparently, making someone write without compensation is unfair. Cool, I get it, but how can a prospective employer assess the quality of their work using specific directions? Here's what we came up with. When we would like an assignment to accompany an application, we give three options:

  1. Complete the assignment as asked (note: we never use the assignment as part of our free or paid content…it's simply a way for us to better assess the strength of the candidate);
  2. Link to a body of work that is similar to the requested assignment; or
  3. Submit an invoice for the assignment in advance, and then we can decide if we'd like to move forward.

I'm currently hiring for an Executive Project Manager.

I originally thought the listing would be for an Executive Assistant, but then I realized, I didn't need someone to help me juggle. I need someone who'll remove the oranges, bowling pins, and knives from my hands, build systems to slow the circus that is my life and lead a team of top-tier players who'll help build business initiatives.

Using the points above as a reference, we're reviewing applications with hope, excitement, and clear expectations of our culture along the way.

I wish the same for you.