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How to Build Your Company’s Hiring Philosophy

Mariah Bliss

Does your company have a hiring philosophy? If not, you may be missing out on a key tool that can help you build a more creative, innovative, and diverse workforce.

Think of a hiring philosophy as similar to a mission statement - but instead of guiding company values, it’s helping your talent and recruitment team build the best possible workforce.

Want proof it works? Online small business insurance agency Simply Business uses a hiring philosophy to build the kind of team that’s passionate, authentic, and hungry for learning. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding: Simply Business has won The Sunday Times’ Best Company to Work For two years in a row (2015 and 2016).

Now that Simply Business has launched its first international office in Boston, they’re replicating that hiring success all over again.

Want to hire like Simply Business? Here’s what to do:

Passion

Don’t just look for someone who’s passionate about the job (although that’s certainly helpful). Look for people who have deep and driving passions in their everyday lives.

“Passion is one of the top indicators that someone is going to bring that something extra to the table,” says Ilyse Cody, Vice President of People and Program Management at Simply Business. “Whether it’s passion for the customer, charitable cause, or hobby, having this level of enthusiasm indicates to me that this person is driven by a sense of purpose.”

However, Cody does warn that passion can often be mistaken for intensity, which isn’t always a desirable quality in a team member.

“Someone who’s intense may have a lot of trouble in a job setting where he or she needs to work in cross-functional teams,” she warns. “Real passion should be a positive that can help inspire and motivate a team towards a common goal.”

Diversity of Thought

“I’m pretty protective of the unique culture we’ve built at Simply Business,” says Cody. “One of the reasons why we’re so different is because we’re really committed to finding people who bring different perspectives and life experiences to the table.”

“If I’m hiring too many people who have similar personalities and mindsets like mine, I’m limiting just how innovative Simply Business can be.”

Research backs her up. Unconscious bias - that invisible desire to favor people who look, think, and act like you - can hinder the hiring process because it creates workplace environments that heavily favor a specific way of thinking or personality type. Diversity of thought unleashes creative and innovative solutions to company problems because not everyone is thinking the same way.

Note: It takes a significant commitment from everyone within a company to build a truly diverse culture.

“There needs to be genuine agreement with the notion that diversity of thought creates a better workplace,” Cody points out. “Employees can sense if the company’s leaders talk big game about diversity, but do little to back that up.”

Excitement

Unbridled enthusiasm can be tough to find these days. That’s why when you do find someone who is genuinely excited about the opportunity your company is presenting, you should move mountains to hire them.

Why is that?

It all boils back to that all-important passion. Nice benefits and a decent salary can certainly make a job enjoyable - but those short-term gains only last for so long. Enthusiasm and excitement can keep a person’s drive going long after the buzz from the initial job offer fades away.

“I always look for candidates who are pumped at the prospect of being part of the Simply Business team,” says Jim Virgulto, Talent Acquisition Manager. “Fortunately, it’s really easy to tell which candidates are genuinely excited about the team and what we’re trying to do here.”

Part of gauging a candidate’s excitement for joining the team requires recruiters to be effective at communicating what makes their companies so special. Is there something fun and unusual about your team? Is the problem your company is trying to solve a really exciting one? Nail down a narrative that reflects the uniqueness of your business and its people.

Commitment to Learning

The best companies hire people with resumes that have seen it all - right?

Not exactly.

Hiring people who present themselves as been-there, done-that experts may initially seem like a good idea, but game-changing innovation is driven by individuals who know that they don’t know everything.

“We’re excited by people who are 100% comfortable with the following phrase: I don’t know, but I’m going to find out,” Virgulto points out. “No pun intended, but a passion and commitment to learning just can’t be taught.”

People who love to solve problems fit well in Simply Business’s BML (Build-Measure-Learn) culture, which emphasizes the importance of taking risks, learning from failures, and throwing assumptions to the wind.

“Some of the best learnings come from absolute failures,” says Bill Peña, CEO of Simply Business USA.

To attract learners to your company, build a culture where learners can grow and thrive without feeling like they always have to be right. Employees who feel empowered by their managers to try out new things and learn from them can create truly innovative workplaces.

Hiring a talented and diverse workforce is an ongoing battle - and recruiters are at the front line. Whether you’re responsible for company hires or considering new approaches for building out your team, don’t hesitate to take a page out of Simply Business’s book.

About the author

Mariah Bliss
Mariah Bliss
I love writing about the small business experience because I happen to be a small business owner - I've had a freelance copywriting business for over 10 years. In addition to that, I also head up the content strategy here at Simply Business. Reach out if you have a great idea for an article or just want to say hi!

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