3 Top Tips for Reference Checking

Smart employers still check references and learn a lot about their preferred hire. But many small businesses just assume that they will not get any info beyond title and date confirmation. Or they think they know the applicant already and do not bother to check.

How do you get useful information?

1. Ask finalists for the right references – request at least four or five previous bosses, project leaders, others with knowledge of the person’s performance, each with current phone or email information. Entry level person? Ask for part-time work bosses, volunteer managers, professors/teachers. Tell the applicant when you are going to call the reference and who will make the call.

2. Create a basic script to use with the references. Tell the person a bit about your organization, the specific position, and that you need their help so you can hire the person. Build rapport. Ask questions about the critical elements of the job, starting with the easy questions. Remember to ask some questions to help you assess if they can succeed in your culture.

Listen to what each reference says and how they say it. Enthusiastic descriptions of past work are valuable but so are the long pauses and polite but limited responses.

If you get told that they cannot give a reference due to company policy, ask if you can call them at home. If they say no, ask for someone else they think can give a real reference but who is no longer with the company. Most references want to help IF the applicant has asked them to do so and told them you are calling. If they have not, what does that tell you about the applicant?

Think about the applicant – do you know […]

Celebrate Small Business!

Just returned from talking to the Women Veterans Conference on starting a business. What a great group of interesting ideas and plans among the attendees! As we celebrate Small Business Week, here are some useful background details for your use.

There are 23 million small businesses in the US and 3/4th are solopreneurs. Small businesses generate 54% of all US sales and provide 55% of all jobs.

Studies show that entrepreneurs who want to build a company flourish in places that
– have plenty of other entrepreneurs already,
– provide extensive learning options, and
– offer inspiration.

Veterans own 9% of all small businesses and are more likely to succeed than people without military service. These 2.4 million vets have $1.2 trillion in revenue. Their success is built on three main advantages. They understand the need to think ahead but also that plans change or fall apart and you have to be flexible. They have dealt with diverse people and groups successfully. They are experienced in hard work and used to heavy demands common in starting up. A slightly higher portion of veterans build companies than go out on their own in comparison to civilians.

Women are the fastest growing group of new business owners. There are 9.1 million women who have $1.4 trillion in revenue. A higher portion of women are solopreneurs than build companies. New women owned businesses are growing at a rate of 1288 per day according to SBA figures!

Currently there are a wide range of organizations supporting efforts to help people become successful entrepreneurs. These include the Kauffman Foundation, AARP, and many others.

How are you using Small Business Week to grow and develop your own business? Are you celebrating it in any way with your customers or […]

Happy New Year!

Now is the time of articles on all the things you should start doing now for a successful year. My contrary view is that you might be wiser to think about what you should stop doing now.

Too often we do work, keep practices and policies, even hire people just because we have done so this far. One of the smartest things most of us could do would be to look at what we should stop doing. What is not really worth your time? What is no longer productive for anyone to do? What are you doing because,,, just, because? Cut it out!

Health, productivity, and joy for 2014! I look forward to wishing you these in person soon.

The ‘Shutdown’ – What You Can Do Now

Small organizations are at extra risk during the government shutdown – you already know that.   But what can you do?

1. Keep your fears at home.
Your employees need concrete information and clear communications. But don’t add to their burden by discussing your fears.

2. Grab control where you can.
A big part of this problem is the lack of control we all feel.

Read the rest of this post on the Alexandria SBDC blog at http://alexandriasmallbusiness.com/government-shutdown-react-communicate-control/