By Steve Czerniak, Subject Matter Expert, SCORE of Southeast Michigan

“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.”
– Lewis Carroll

Before you go out on the market (or to a head-hunter) to find a new employee, make sure that you have a great definition of the employee you seek, why you’re seeking them and what’s in it for them. Not every employee has to be highly educated or heavily experienced. The mix of the following elements will vary, based on the type of employee. However, the more hard work you do, up front, the better employee fit you’ll get and the more included the employee will feel.

Yup, it’s a lot of hard work. Even if a great candidate is dropped in your lap from someone in your network, know that you’ll be glad you were prepared. Even if you work with a contract house, an on-line job board or other sources, you’ll need this material. You are trying to describe an organization and employment opportunity in total.

A great overall description of what you’re trying to achieve is HARD-T:

HONEST (Truthful and a Realistic Representation)
ALIGNED (Mission, Vision, Values, Goals and Objectives, Strategy)
RETAINING (Make candidates want to join and Current Employees Reluctant to Leave)
DIFFERENTIATING (from Other Employers)
TARGETED (Aimed at Who You’re Trying to Attract; Addresses Cultural Norms; Address Basic Expectations and Things that Delight)

“GOVERNANCE” DOCUMENTS: Doing a strategic plan and a business plan will help people to understand where you’ve been, what’s the current situation, and where you are headed. Even if the position isn’t for an employee that you might let read the documents, it is helpful to know this very relevant information.

STRATEGIC PLANS include 1) definition of the Mission, Vision and Values Statements, 2) an assessment of the current environmental forces, external to the company (aka opportunities and threats), 3) the challenges those forces present to the company, 4) an assessment of the internal capabilities (strengths and weaknesses), 5) an action plan to respond to the challenges and change, improve or preserve internal capabilities, and 6) goals and objectives that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based (aka SMART).

Goals and objectives should set reasonable expectations for each employee. There can be “stretch” goals to encourage people to go above and beyond and what’s in it for them. All goals and objectives should trace back to those set for the company.

BUSINESS PLANS include 1) and executive summary to briefly go over “the high points,” 2) the opportunity that this business addresses including the market and competition, 3) and execution plan for marketing, sales and operations. Again, make sure that this is SMART, 4) a company overview with the organization and extended leadership team, 5) a financial plan with a forecast of where the company is headed, assumptions that are being made, the financing, and traditional profit and loss, balance sheets, and cash flow.


A POSITION DESCRIPTION that includes: Position Title; Name and Position of the Hiring Manager; Department, Team, or Project; Full-Time or Part-Time; Permanent or Contract; Preferred Start Date; Job Description - Duties; Deliverables; Goals; Starting Location ; Is Relocation Approved?; Salary Range or Hourly Wage; Benefits (Medical, Dental, 401K, Vacation, Sick Leave, Paid Holidays, Mileage, Tuition Reimbursement, Company Discounts, Bus Pass); Physical Requirements (e.g. lift, access); Vetting to be Expected (e.g. Background Check or Bonding) or Security Clearance Requirements; Travel Requirements; Work Hours; Expected Overtime - weekends; holidays; Knowledge, Skills, Abilities (Required / Preferred) e.g. software, hardware, level of proficiency, publications, team skills, driver’s license; Education (Required / Preferred); Certifications (if required); Experience (Required / Preferred); Reason for Requisition (Replacement, Reallocation, or New Hire) - e.g. increase in workload; new products, or programs; Justification for a New Hire (if required); Company Description - Reputation; Organization; Products; Culture; Customers; Compliance (Elevator Pitch)

A COMPANY DESCRIPTION - An ELEVATOR PITCH is a concise statement to describe your business and why someone should be interested. The idea is what would you say if you only had the time of a brief elevator ride? The best elevator pitches include a hook, the message and a close.

DESCRIBE OF THE CULTURE and the value that offers to employees. People want to work in a culture with:

RESPECTED LEADERS - Leaders who Care; A Leader I can Trust; Delegation; Empowerment; Work-Life Balance; Reinforce Behavior Aligned with Values; Sensitivity to the Power of Symbols; Eliminate Uncertainty; Understands Motivation; Well Thought-of in the Organization and Use Influence

STABILITY AND SECURITY - Desired Financial Outcomes; Healthy Business; Investment Being Made in the Organization; Fair Compensation; Bright Future; Proactive versus Reactive; Short-Term versus Long-Term Thinking; Leaders defend Their Charges

OPPORTUNITY FOR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL GROWTH - Learning Environment (Training; Experiential Learning; Advanced Degrees and Certifications; Mentoring and Coaching)

FEEL GOOD ABOUT CONTRIBUTIONS - Professionally Challenging Work; Valued; Recognition; Reward; Part of Something Bigger than Themselves; Quality Products that Satisfy Customers; “A Piece of the Action”

WORKING WITH COMPETENT COLLEAGUES - Two-Directional Respect; Part of a Team; Appropriate Organization Structure; Diverse and Inclusive; Up-to-Date Facilities, tools, and equipment; A Safe Environment (facilities, harassment, bullying)

ENCOURAGE INNOVATION - Continuous Improvement; Efficient and Effective Use of Resources; Processes; Tools and Equipment; Facilities; Product Upgrade; New Products; How the Work Gets Done; Ideas Listened to

COMMUNICATIONS - the Foundation of Everything; Context for How each Individual’s Work Contributes to Business Success (and Theirs); Upward; Downward; Peer-to-peer

JOY - It’s a serious thing we do, but we can do it in a light-hearted way.

INTERVIEW FORM - Write an outline of the topics to be discussed. Even better, write out the questions you intend to ask. Remember, you want to ask questions that are based on the job description posting you published. A great way to to do this is to develop a form made up of the important topics and skills you want met by the candidate. You need to determine if they match the needs of the job so refer to the posting. Be ready to discuss the goals and objectives for an employee in the position. You want to identify the best person for the job.

WARNINGS: Don’t let personal biases get in the way of finding a great candidate. Do not hire people just because they are like you. Also, stay away from any question that concerns race, religion, age, ethnic background, arrest record, convictions, availability, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, family status, disabilities, financial status, citizenship or national origin.


You need to understand what COMPARABLE POSITIONS AND SALARIES are like. In the real estate business, they call it “the comps” (i.e. comparable homes in the neighborhood). Internet research can help. This is when a good HR firm can be of real help. The salary may be shocking compared to what you think you can afford.

Particularly for higher level employees, describe a TOTAL COMPENSATION PACKAGE that can include: competitive salary, retirement benefits, life and accident insurance, disability benefits, health, dental, vision, mental health care, child care, tuition reimbursement, employee discounts, paid time off (holidays, vacation and sick days), bonuses and promotions, relocation and if they’re going to get “a piece of the action.” (i.e. percent of net profit).


Hiring the right people requires hard work. Unfortunately, there is almost no way to avoid it. However, the payoff is huge.

About the Author

Steve Czerniak retired after a successful 37-year career as a leader and innovator. The last fifteen years were a series of opportunities that honed his skills as an internal consultant and “change agent.” In retirement, he is a volunteer consultant and a SCORE Subject Matter Expert for the Southeast Michigan chapter. His personal volunteer objective is to “derive personal satisfaction from helping others, and the organizations they operate, to develop and prosper.”

The Hard Work You Must Do BEFORE Doing the Hiring