With Labor Day now history, the transition slowly taking place from summer to fall, we're headed into the last few months of this year —a time when businesses are beginning to plan and budget for 2015.
One of the challenges confronting businesses, irrespective of size, is identifying and hiring good talent. This is particularly worrisome for small businesses, whether they're starting out, expanding or have hit the proverbial "wall." In fact, when it comes to hiring talent, it's not unusual for entrepreneurs to look to family, friends or someone deemed an "expert" when in reality they might not be the best resources to fill a particular need. Through friendship or a past connection, this individual may have been hired to fill a critical need.
Is this the right approach for small businesses?
With this in mind, I recently interviewed, Todd Hohauser, CEO, Harvey Hohauser & Associates in Troy, retained executive search firm that focuses on recruiting talent for Fortune 500, private and family businesses. Hohauser's primary responsibility is to lead and manage a team of recruiters as well as providing assistance and support for their clients.
Lee: What challenges did Hohauser have in its early years and how do you overcome them?
Hohauser: Going up against some of the largest search firms in the world, our founder and my father had to establish a brand and capabilities to compete with much larger organizations. Through his dedication to service and ethics, he proved to some of the most preeminent companies in the world that he could go toe to toe with the competition's service offering.
Lee: According to a recent published report in the Detroit Free Press regarding Michigan as the "comeback state," the article states results are mixed thus far. Based on your firm's recent hiring activities, have you noticed an increase in hiring across metro Detroit?
Hohauser: The first and third quarters of this year have been some of the busiest quarters our firm has experienced in our 28-year history. The automotive industry is driving a majority to growth throughout the state. Privately-held family businesses have had a huge spike in hiring and are currently hiring 57 percent of the state’s workforce.
Lee: So what's driving this increase? And what are your expectations for the balance of 2014 and beyond?
Hohauser: Consumers are coming back to life. Michigan is leading the nation in several areas of growth, including manufacturing, food and agriculture and international trade. (The year) 2014 should be profitable for most who were prepared to grow and diversify.
Lee: Small businesses struggle with hiring the right talent based on their needs. In fact, it's not uncommon for entrepreneurs to hire friends and family members. What tips could you share to help get them started with the recruiting process?
Hohauser: Focus on culture. The first question you should always ask yourself, “Is this person going to be the right fit for the organization?” Using a few basic assessments to gain a deeper understanding of a person’s work ethics and drive can be key, as well as doing a basic background check to learn more about a person’s history with decision making.
Lee: Why would it be beneficial for a small business to potentially hire an executive search firm?
Hohauser: Recruiting senior-level professionals can be time consuming and at times daunting for entrepreneurs who may not have the ability to easily pick key skills in other disciplines or cultural indifferences. It is the job of an executive recruiter to be a respected partner in identifying these skills, traits and knowledge of the candidates and to hold them accountable. Our job is to network and be aware of the “A” players in the market. This is all we do; we don’t manufacture cars, distribute products or manage a bank. We know people, period.
Lee: However, if you're starting out or are in the initial growth phase and can't afford executive search services, what other sources should small businesses consider for identifying good talent?
Hohauser: References, referrals, recommendations.
Lee: What are your thoughts regarding LinkedIn and other related sites to identify talent?
Hohauser: LinkedIn, Monster and indeed.com are great sources for identifying talent in a specific industry or discipline. LinkedIn has been the most successful site for finding talent. The structure of the site now allows you to view top skills as seen by counterparts and view recommendations and skill sets.
Lee: Other thoughts?
Hohauser: Leadership is the core of what we do. We understand the requisites and prerequisites senior executives demonstrate in leadership positions. Matching these leaders to specific organizational cultures is a skill we have developed and continue to hone for 28 years.