new hire

A Little Hiring Know-How

Steven Farag

A proven leader and a catalyst for positive and lasting change, Steven Farag gained extensive experience throughout his time at the University of Illinois building a large customer base for decorated goods using e-commerce and digital marketing. Upon his graduation, Farag purchased Campus Sportswear Inc, a family owned screen printing and embroidery company established in 1947, on the University's campus. Since then, Farag has transformed and rebranded the company, now known as Campus Ink, and has created a large sales force across several college campuses. When he's not working on his business, he is traveling and meeting with other shop owners. Helping them strategize, transform, grow, and prepare for the digital and online revolution our industry is going through. You can contact Steven at Steven@campus.ink or www.campus.ink.

Congrats! Your business is doing fantastic and orders are growing. Maybe you're at the point where you need to start thinking about getting some help. It's a decision a lot of shops wrestle over.

Who do you need?

Like any decision in your business, there are long-term consequences for any action or non-action. Adding staff is crucial to scaling your business. The more people doing work in your shop, the more work is accomplished. Hire the best person you can afford. If you need a manual printer, hire one. If you need a customer service person, hire a customer service person. However, if you are looking for experienced and skilled people for these positions, go in with eyes open and know the ones that truly have the depth of knowledge will cost you more. Think about the minimum and maximum amount you can offer a potential employee.

What if you can't afford an experienced and vastly skilled person for a position? You are going to have to hire and train someone to meet your needs. This is known as growing your own talent. There's nothing wrong with it, but it just takes longer to get ramped up to the skill level you desire. 

The adage "Hire for attitude, train for skill" applies. Look for someone that wants to make a difference and learn. Applicants may have experiences in other industries that proves valuable for what you are seeking. 

Where do you look?

First, look for people that you, your vendors, customers, family, or friends know. Susie or Johnny may need a job and if someone knows your business and knows them, it might be a good matchmaking exercise. You can still interview them and make a decision to hire them or not, but often these types of recommendations work out for everyone. 

Social media is another great way to find candidates. If your company has a website, post the job description and compensation information on the page. Use LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and your other channels to promote it. Your website is a 24/7 recruiter for you.

Lastly, there's always traditional job postings in pay services such as Craiglist, Indeed, Monster, or your local newspaper. These work fine but these services all cost to post. Try the free ones out first before trying these channels. 

What does the process look like?

Dig deep into the interview. Once you have a pool of candidates, start the process of phone interviews. These should be about 10 minutes. Get a vague sense of the person over the phone and decide if their experience and professionalism matches what's on the resume. Be very judgmental, and trust your gut or inner voice. If something strikes you as weird or off-putting go on to the next candidate.

For the face-to-face interview, ask yourself some questions. Do they show up early? Do they present themselves well? Remember, every employee you hire is a reflection of your company. During the interview, have an extra person in the room. Use your department manager or another employee if you have one. Their job is to get a sense of the person, ask a few questions, and look at their body language during the interview. Avoid yes or no questions, and ask follow-up questions to dig deep into their responses. Always ask questions about how they work with others, teamwork, leadership, how they communicate, or if they've ever solved a workplace problem. 

If the interview goes well, take them on a tour. If the candidate gets to take the tour, make it a quick one. Do they try to keep up? Take notice if they are asking any questions or seem extremely interested in your process. The ones that keep up and ask questions make great employees.

Once you have made your decision and hired someone, the next step is to get them integrated into your shop work culture. If you have a company handbook that outlines the standards and rules of your shop, review this on the first day. Before their first day, make a list of what they will need to know, who is training them, and maybe even some key points for them to learn. Make the list out a week or two in advance. If you have other people training the employee, give them the list too.

Well trained, trusted, and motivated employees can carry out tasks with very little supervision. Think about what you want for your shop and set the expectations for your employees to achieve. 

When you add people into the mix, you are adding another layer of complexity. Make sure the person you hire fits into the culture you have established and can fit into your business for the long term. Can you see the person being cross-trained into other skills? Can you see them managing one day? Don't just think about now, think a few years ahead.