Where to find your next great hire

flickr.com user West Point Public Affairs

Like many platitudes, "To succeed, surround yourself with great talent," is a great principle.

It can also be an expensive principle for a small business to follow.

So how can you surround yourself with superstars when your budget is tight? Look for under-appreciated and undervalued people: People who are inexperienced but skilled, people with extensive education in a different field, people who currently hold jobs that are perceived to be less important, or people who simply suffer from negative social and employment stereotypes.

Here are some places to find your next superstars:

Athletes. Sport is an excellent training ground for business. A recent graduate who played a sport is self-disciplined, motivated, able to overcome adversity, understands the value of teamwork, great at multitasking ... all excellent qualities. Every year approximately 400,000 student-athletes graduate college and enter the job market. Hire one.

Career-changers. Let's use teachers as an example. Many people love to teach but are frustrated by the relatively low salary potential. Teachers are excellent trainers, understand how to manage different personalities, and are great at motivating, encouraging, and nurturing other people -- all skills you can definitely use. Where career-switchers are concerned, the key is to ignore their industry and focus on the qualities the person possesses: Salespeople are self-starters. Mechanics are excellent troubleshooters. A person who is outstanding in one field can quickly adapt those skills to your field.

Unimpressive current position. Say you glance at a resume and the current job is fast food, or telemarketing, or working in a warehouse. You might think, "Well, if that's all they're doing now ... " It's easy to assume a person who currently has a less-than-wonderful job is only "worth" a job like that. The kid working a fast-food job has more customer-service experience than most people, and that warehouse worker may possess the attention to detail of a CPA.

Ex-military. I hired hundreds of people and definitely made mistakes, but I never regretted a single ex-military hire. Need a leader? The military is probably the only organization that puts as much or more emphasis on leadership training as it does on skill training. Need someone to see a task through, or to be able to follow as well as lead, or to be able to make smart decisions on the fly -- and stand behind those decisions? Go with a vet. Every time.

Younger workers. Of course they don't have any experience. We were all young once. Someone gave us a chance, and we worked hard to prove they made the right decision. Some percentage of your new hires should be younger workers just entering the workforce because you get energy, ideas, enthusiasm ... and the opportunity to grow your own talent.

Older workers. Of course they have tons of experience. How could they not? Older workers have years of training under their belts -- training you can take advantage of but don't have to provide.

  • Jeff Haden On Twitter»

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    Jeff Haden learned much of what he knows about business from managing a 250-employee book manufacturing plant. Everything else he picked up from ghostwriting books for some of the smartest CEOs and leaders in business. He has written more than 30 non-fiction books, including four Business and Investing titles that reached #1 on Amazon's bestseller list. Follow him on Twitter at @Jeff_Haden.

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