6 Common Hiring Mistakes (That Cost You Time and Money)

Depending on your personality, human resources management can be one of the most trying parts of running your business.

Hiring - especially the very first hire you make - can be a minefield. Hire the right person and you get explosive growth. Hire the wrong person and you risk wasting precious time and money.

Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen business owners make with their very first hire.

1. Hiring someone exactly like yourself

If only you could clone yourself, life would be so easy - right? Well… maybe. While you no doubt have certain strengths that got you where you are today, the law of diminishing returns invariably applies. Rather than getting more of what you’ve already got, you should aim for getting some of what you don’t yet have.

Complementary skills are what will get you some traction, and turbo-charge your growth.

2. Hiring someone based solely on what you need right at this moment

The things that are keeping you up at night right now are not the same problems you will have in six months or a year (unless you put off getting help). Think beyond your immediate issues, to more strategic areas that will become important once the current fires are put out.

3. Hiring a specialist based on your ideals, instead of a generalist to manage your practical reality

This is the inverse of the previous two mistakes. You may dream of having beautifully designed marketing materials, and therefore believe you need to hire an admin assistant with design experience. But if your calendar’s a mess and your clients are feeling ignored, even the most gorgeous brochure in the world won’t save you.

4. Only using traditional methods to find talent.

As you’re probably aware, hiring can be a chore. The traditional process goes something like this:

  • Write a detailed job description.
  • Post said job description on Craigslist and other job boards.
  • Filter through hundreds of resumes.
  • Coordinate interviews with candidates.
  • Check references.
  • Make an offer to the top candidate.
  • Hope for the best.

Many business owners skip the process entirely and just ask around in their network - which isn’t a terrible idea. After all, good people know good people. But in doing so, you limit yourself to the same pool of candidates that your network already has access to.

Remember: if you can poach an employee from another company, someone else can poach them from you.

5. Hiring a friend or family member, because they are available/need the work/will work for cheap

So many issues here.

The biggest one is that hired “help” isn’t always “helpful”. While it may seem like a good idea to hire the most accessible option you’ve got, it may end up costing more than you expect. It can be very difficult to let a poor performer go - especially if that person is a neighbour/niece/friend of a friend.

Protect your relationships - some days, it’s the only wealth an entrepreneur has.

6. Holding out for the unicorn

You’ve got a very specific idea in mind: you want to hire someone who:

  • Is bilingual
  • Writes like a dream
  • Schedules appointments and makes reservations
  • Keeps the books to the point that your accountant only needs to file the taxes
  • Strategizes and implements efficient systems
  • Researches, implements, and manages software
  • Can juggle a half dozen flaming machetes, wearing a blindfold

We’ve hired for and run teams of all sizes, for small businesses and large corporations. One of the things we learned along the way is: There is no unicorn.

Certain types of people are good at certain types of work. Often, administrators who are excellent at customer service are also great at writing content and letters. But those same people can be absolute garbage at excel spreadsheets, basic math, and bookkeeping.

Your spreadsheet wizard and bookkeeping mastermind can sometimes be a mouse with clients, genuinely afraid of the phone, and terrible at creating attractive documents and presentations.

It’s one of the multitude of reasons we created Admin Slayer: every business wants and needs all those things done well. You can’t find all those things in one person, and many businesses can’t afford to hire them all.

Admin Slayer crowdsources our Slayers, so every business owner gets the expertise they need, and every expert works in the areas they love. 


This article is an excerpt from our ebook, The Art of Delegation: Growing Your Business with a Virtual Assistant