How to Find the Right Person When You Need to Hire Fast

Find the Right Person When You Need to Hire Fast
Find the Right Person When You Need to Hire Fast

I’m a big fan of the principle, Hire Slow, Fire Fast, and use it all the time with my clients. At the same time, sometimes you don’t have the luxury of hiring slowly. And by slowly, I mean waiting until you have dozens of candidates to choose from, and you put people through a sixteen step process that takes weeks or months to complete. 

If a key person leaves suddenly and unexpectedly, it can create chaos in your organization.

Every day that your team is  covering a vacant position, your organization is operating inefficiently. There’s operational disruption, lower productivity, higher stress, and greater uncertainty.

Thus, when someone suddenly leaves your organization, it can be tempting to hire the first person that comes knocking, or a friend of a friend. This is understandable, as there’s a sense of urgency to get a body in place quickly, because you need to keep operations going — as opposed to doing a thoughtful search until you find the right fit.

However, you can actually have it all — you can be thoughtful AND fast!

Need to make the right hire, quickly? Here are some best practices we’ve developed and recommend to organizations that need to hire fast without making a long term mistake.

Before You Need to Hire

The best way to deal with chaos is to avoid it altogether, which is easier said than done, right? The better prepared you are for unexpected vacancies, the smoother (and quicker) your hiring process will be.

Keep Job Descriptions Updated

I recommend that you update all of your company’s job descriptions on a regular basis. A job description reflects the key job responsibilities, skills and abilities to do the role. It is a key document for hiring, performance management and compensation planning.. In most companies, it doesn’t take long for it to become outdated. (If you need a template for this, just let me know!)

Keeping all of your job descriptions up to date reduces hours of work at the beginning of the recruiting process, and allows you to move forward with the hiring process more quickly.

Have Business Continuity Practices in Place

While you’re in the interim period, various team members may need to cover certain responsibilities of a vacant position. Your operations will run more smoothly if your people have documented standard operating procedures (SOPs) or work instructions they can refer to. 

I’ve seen many organizations that don’t have SOPs in place, and it adds more disruption, chaos, and anxiety to an already tense time. 

Provide Training and Cross-functional Rotations

Expect that your employees will need to cover for one another from time to time, even if it’s on a temporary basis. Someone may be on extended leave or on a honeymoon for a couple weeks. Business must continue while they’re away.

Provide training and cross-functional rotations so that your staff can adequately fill in for others in a pinch. If someone suddenly quits their job, covering for them won’t be a terribly disruptive task. Also, employees love to learn and grow. Cross functional rotations are a win for the employees, and a win for the organization.

Have a Transition Plan Ready

The more you can plan ahead for a situation, the better you can avoid disorder if someone leaves suddenly. Have a transition plan ready before you need to use it.

Ask the question, What happens if someone in your company is abducted by aliens, or they win the lottery? (These are less morbid scenarios than getting hit by a bus!) How will you make sure your processes and systems are lottery-proof?

Play out various scenarios with your team — maybe one or two scenarios per quarter. Pick a role in your department or organization and do a tabletop role playing exercise. What needs to happen and what things need to be in place if this person or that person wins the lottery tomorrow? Next quarter, choose a different role in the organization and go through the scenario again.

Doing it in bite-size chunks over time allows you to cover all of your company’s roles without draining your mental energy.

Also develop succession plans. Consider training and development needs so that you have someone ready to step into the role of the outgoing team member.

Related reading: Four critical things to do with your next executive director search

Develop a Well-Defined Recruiting Process

Having a recruiting and hiring process in place makes it easy to go from sourcing to logistics. Make sure your internal recruiting house is in order by doing the following best practices:

  • Define all the roles and responsibilities of the position you’re hiring for
  • Outline your workflow for the hiring process
  • Create a list of interview questions
  • Understand the core values that you’re hiring for
  • Define the cultural fit you’re looking for

When You Need to Hire Quickly

Having a plan in place ahead of time is only half the battle! Once you’re in the midst of a hiring scenario, follow these best practices. 

Be Crystal Clear About What You Want in a Candidate

What are the three to five must-have qualifications in an ideal job candidate? It’s tempting to develop an extensive list of experiences and qualifications that a new hire should have, but such a list can get in the way of finding a great hire quickly. Instead, hone in on only the few experiences a qualified candidate absolutely must possess. 

During times of transition and turbulence, it’s even more important to focus on the things that really matter. This also helps you to hire more quickly — if you’re highly focused, you can quickly rule people in or out.

Be Thorough — But Quick — in Your Hiring

I like to think in terms of hiring thoroughly. While you may need to move quickly, you still need to make sure you hire the right person. You will still want to create a process and discipline that includes reference checking, doing a  tryout, and having lots of interviews with several different team members and at different times. 

Related reading: 5 Steps to a Successful Interview: A Hiring Manager's Perspective

You want several touchpoints to vet your candidates, but do them quickly. It should only take a week versus a month. If you stretch a hiring process out too long, you can frustrate and lose good candidates — which puts you behind the eight ball in terms of business continuity.

If you know exactly what your must-haves are, and your unicorn candidate shows up on day one, don’t wait for other candidates to begin the process. Be thorough and go through all the steps you need to, but do it quickly and efficiently.

I think some hiring managers feel like they need to wait two or three weeks to see what the candidate pool is, then they begin working with the top candidates from that pool. If your ideal candidate applies on day one, they may not be available in three weeks.

There’s nothing wrong with hiring on day one if you’re hiring the right job candidate.

Hire a Temporary Staffing Company or a Short-term Consultant

These resources can fill the vacant role in an interim capacity while you hire a permanent replacement. Having a temporary solution gives you freedom to take the time you need to do your due diligence and hire the right person.

Tap into staffing companies, or consider hiring retirees who are now serving as consultants. You can often find contractors who are available on a temporary basis.

Hire a Recruiting Service

Leveraging a recruiting service allows you to continue doing your work with minimal interruption. You don’t have to divert valuable people resources to an unplanned hiring effort for weeks. You don’t have that kind of time when you’re also trying to run an organization. An outsourced service can take the overwhelming task of recruiting off your plate while you steer the ship.

A good recruiter can help streamline your search process while also being thorough. That’s the approach we take with our clients, and we’re able to provide the shortest recruitment timelines you’ll find anywhere. We recently worked on a controller position that we put into high gear on a Friday. We got the green light on upgrading the salary compensation. We reposted it, and just three business days later we presented to the client three controller candidates that had already been phone screened and had the right skills.

Hire the Right Person Efficiently and Confidently

It’s not a fun situation to suddenly find yourself hiring for a key position when you need to find the right person, fast. Fortunately, it can be done, if you take a thorough, focused approach and follow best practices. As disruptive as an unplanned hire can be, it doesn’t have to create a panicked work environment — if you’re prepared ahead of time.

Need someone to come alongside your recruiting and hiring process? Amy Cell Talent can help with that! Talk with an advisor today.

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About The Author: Amy Cell

Amy Cell is a renowned and passionate pioneer in HR and Talent initiatives. She also leads an innovative consulting firm that specializes in recruiting and HR services for startups, small businesses, and municipalities.

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