Finding the right person for your business, with the skill set and attitude you need and like, is seldom an easy task. Fitting them into a growing, multi-faceted team? Well, that’s even more of a challenge. The ideal candidate needs to be right for you, and be complimentary to your team as a whole. It’s a bit like trying to find a new boyfriend or girlfriend, but with your entire extended family in on the process too.

Unlike the search for your perfect partner, successful recruitment is rarely down to chance. Without the same thought, effort and attention to detail you’d bring to any other critical aspect of your business, the risks are high. It costs time and money to press the reset button, and a failed placement can be considerably detrimental to team productivity.

Like any relationship, going in eyes open is key to avoiding nasty surprises. Consider these five points before you start:

  1. Be clear about what you want. Your new recruit is there to take your business forward. How will they do so and where exactly will they fit in? Perhaps an existing team member could be developed, or would an external recruit plug a skills gap or add to your company’s DNA? External recruits can introduce new ideas and help avoid company “group think”. Don’t be afraid to hire someone better than yourself!


  1. Make sure you give the right impression. Think through how your business and existing team appears to outsiders. There’s always competition for talent, so how does your culture compare and how will you accurately convey your culture to potential recruits? Be honest. It’s in everyone’s interest for culture and values to match.


  1. Be realistic. The best candidates will want to understand how your company is intending to move forward and also what’s in it for them. What challenges do you face and what plans do you have to continue growing your team? Knowing and being candid with your strengths and weaknesses will convey a positive impression.


  1. The hiring process matters. It’s possible that this is the first time your candidate has come into contact with your company. Delays and lack of clarity on next steps will not encourage the candidate to think, “I can, and want, to see myself working here”. The smoother the process the more likely you will succeed.


  1. If you use a recruiter, choose someone you can trust and work in partnership with them. You might have a good idea who you want to recruit and can target this person yourself. Alternatively, you may not have the time to do so and/or feel that a recruiter who you trust can scour the whole market and bring the very best people to you. That may be a better use of your time, and it can also provide you with market and competitor intelligence from an employee’s point of view. Remember, often the best people are not actively looking and it can be difficult to get to them.  If you decide to use a recruiter, make sure they understand your company and your brand, and help them as much as you can. Work together, it’s in both your interests to get the right person.


Finally, when you have recruited a great team, do your best to keep them. Good communication is the basis of all relationships and this is especially true of successful teams. You may have found the right people. Good communication will help make sure you keep them.

Bridie Cunningham started her career on the Graduate Management Programme  for Marks and Spencer. Following a number of roles in the UK and Europe she moved to Carphone Warehouse where she was Head of UK Retail Productivity as it became a FTSE 100 company.  She co-founded Portman Scott, a boutique Recruitment/Search company in 2012.