Learning from my hiring mistakes

One of the biggest challenges a young business faces is staffing up. Finding and bringing on board the right people is critical to both immediate and long-term success. However, in a people-focused industry like public relations, growing from one to plus-one and beyond can sometimes add to your problems instead of alleviating them

Sonya Madeira Managing Partner, Rice Communications

Tomes have been written and expressed on dos and don’ts when it comes to hiring. In the last five years, I have to admit I have made my own mistakes, and had to pay the price in one way or another. Through conversations, advice and experience, there are a few things I try to remember when expanding the team.

Part and parcel of growing pains. The number of PR consultants you have is directly proportionate to the amount of business you can take on. The largest agency in Singapore has between 80 and 100 people and possibly $8 to 10 million in revenue. That’s an average of $100,000 in revenue per person per year. Slide the scale and you can estimate what your growth potential can be. If I had stopped at one, I would have remained a freelance PR consultant, handling only what I was able to execute myself. Having more people enables you to add clients and experience, so have faith and take the plunge.

PR is (not just) a people business. When asked, most young consultants say, "I think I will be good at PR because I like meeting people." PR involves business consulting, and is not a dating service. We deal daily with clients, try to understand their business objectives, and construct a strategy that enables them to shift the needle through communications. As a result, we make a concerted attempt to hire people who can write, think and communicate their ideas. It is important to run through a checklist of skills prior to signing on a new person. Recruitment today includes tests on mock scenarios, introductory chats with other team members, and reference checks to ensure a well-rounded person walks through the door.

Hire for attitude, not aptitude. Your company culture, service offerings and standards are built around your team members. Your Vision/Mission/Values statement might be ideal on paper, but the principles have to be practiced by each and every person in your team. Even one black sheep in the mix has the potential to rock the boat. This issue escalates as the team size increases. So when bringing a new person on board, make sure they bring a positive attitude. As they say, skills can be taught, but it is harder to influence someone’s attitude to work.

Plan for today, hire for tomorrow. When you meet a fresh candidate, do you look at them as solely fulfilling the immediate need, or do you see them as part of your team a few years down the road? One of the biggest mistakes is assessing an individual purely based on your current requirement. If you want to be faced with a high turnover, this works but if you are hiring for growth, have a think about what this person could be doing a few years down the line. Do they have the ability to manage clients on their own, lead a team, drive new business, and contribute to the organisation? If yes, don’t wait to make an offer.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in