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If you have employees, they are your most important asset. Select the right people, onboard them correctly, train them properly, motivate and compensate them wisely, and you will have a very good chance of dominating your competition. If this doesn’t seem right to you, I doubt I can convince you, but employees can easily make or break a company.

Pardon my punditry, but I believe that good employees will be in short supply through 2022 and possibly much longer. However, you can find good employees in any economic circumstance if you have a good understanding of where to find them.

Elon Musk has hired well over 50,000 employees over the past few years, from CEO’s to folks to drive cars off the line. Your task is probably not as daunting as his, but with that massive need to hire great people, he has built his company to the 6th largest US company. Here are some recommendations for finding, recruiting, top talent at ANY level.

Known individuals. Through the networking you’ve done your entire career, you have lists of individuals whose capabilities and attitudes you already know. You might find some of your best hires (as Musk has) through:

  • School and College chums and associates

  • Members of associations, clubs, industry groups, charitable organization that you are part of

  • Supplier employees (It is nice, but not necessary to ask permission)

  • Ask supplier salespeople whom they know

  • Friends, family, and associates of current employees (incentivize them to do your recruiting. You could pay $100’s of dollars for good prospects)

  • Customer employees (with permission)

  • Owners of existing companies (through mergers, acquisitions, or partnerships)

All of the normal channels:

  • Indeed and other online employment sites

  • College and high school job boards

  • Linkedin and other social media

  • Employment agencies

  • Unemployment Department

  • Specialty programs for veterans, disabled, hard to place, ex-cons

Temp-to-hire – this is a fantastic method. You work with an agency, but instead of hiring and paying fees, you hire as a temporary worker and this prospect knows there may be a permanent opportunity. The agency does all the work. You can test each person for four hours or as long as you like. If they don’t work out, you can send them home with no drama, no unemployment, or other claims.

Targeted hiring – This can potentially be the most time-consuming and even the most expensive way to hire but can drive amazing results. Establish relationships with those who you know can send you the right candidate(s). For instance, if you will need several computer techs in the future, take the dean of the local computer science department to lunch and tell him you’d like first dibs on his best and brightest.

Figuring out who to actually hire is another step in this process. Don’t fall into the trap of having a standard interview process. The way you make a decision about a bookkeeper is far different than how you select a salesperson or an artist.


Figure out exactly what you want to be done. Write it down. Create a clear job description for every position in your company. Potentially create questions that will test the person's abilities to handle the job. Does the job require a lot of math? Ask questions about math. Is this a customer service job? Set up a situation where someone is complaining about the quality of the product they received and have the applicant play-act what they would say? It doesn’t matter if they say the right thing. It matters if they say all the wrong things.


If the prospect is not a direct report to you, leave at least the initial interviews to the direct report. TRAIN that person is doing the interviews. Don’t turn over the interview process for an engineer, a production worker, an artist, or a salesperson to HR, unless your HR person is unusually good at the process.


Of course, the laws today restrict so much of what goes on in the interview. Make sure everyone who participates is totally up-to-date on those laws and rules. Once again, this a benefit of using Temp-to-hire. Those who come to work as a temp are not your employees, so the rules don’t apply the same way. You will get to judge their work habits, integrity, intelligence, skill sets, and social skills on the job.


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