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March 23, 2021

Ready, aim, hire

Nobody wants to hire the wrong person for the job. To avoid that scenario, though, it requires far more than interviewing well. It starts all the way back at square one, as you consider what you’re looking to hire for in the first place.

To do this well, the effort begins by creating a standard approach to detailing your goal for each open position. In a single sentence, what do you hope for this position to accomplish? What would success look like if the person you end up hiring were performing at or above your expectations? What are the outcomes that this role will help your organization deliver? 

For example, if the role is a sales position, it could be as simple as writing, “Outcome: Close $600,000 in new sales opportunities, increasing by $100,000 each year in the years that follow.” Were the position for a marketing copywriter, it might be, “Outcome: Write 150 quality pieces of published content that help drive 3,000 market qualified leads (MQLs) per year.” 

While the outcome itself might be debated internally—more on that in a moment—or may even change later, by focusing on a clear, quantifiable outcome, everyone in the organization becomes clear on your reasoning for the hire. Every new position may not necessarily have such a clear, quantifiable outcome, but even in those cases it’s important to write down a qualitative goal. The clearer you are, the more you’ll be prepared for the steps that follow.

With an outcome in mind, this will help your organization estimate a return on investment (ROI) for the role as you consider the appropriate budget for the hire. Of course, you’ll need to work within the context of your own finance and HR team’s standards for how you propose a potential role’s budget, but we encourage writing down the intended range long before the position is posted. With both a budgeted salary range and an estimated outcome for the position you’re looking for, it’ll be easy to arrive at your ROI. 

Outcome ÷ (Salary range x Average overhead) = ROI

Assuming the sales position referenced earlier had a budget range between $60,000 to $80,000, plus a fully loaded average overhead of 22%, the ROI for this position would be: $600,000 ÷ ($70,000 x 1.22) = 702%. 

It gets trickier when aiming for outcomes that have a less tangible dollar value. For example, even though the marketing copywriter’s outcome was clear—150 published pieces of content that deliver 3,000 MQLs—this type of outcome would require you understanding the value of a MQL before you could arrive at a clear ROI. Still, it’s helpful to work toward a clear understanding of what you aim to achieve with each respective hire.

Both of these examples present a very simplified financial model, of course, and a number of assumptions have been made to arrive at these types of answers. 

Regardless of your own hiring model and how you weigh the consideration of hiring more people, the more you build confidence in your need for each role and what you expect this new hire to deliver, the better equipped you will be to describe what you’re looking for and how you will evaluate their success. 

In a single phrase, we like to say, “Grow slow, hire fast.” With a clear outcome and ROI in mind, you’re ready for the next step—a healthy debate.

There’s more where that came from.

If you liked this article, you’ll love our “Better onboarding, better results” eBook launching late April of 2021. Reserve your copy of this step-by-step guide to improving the employee journey long before and after day one.

Keep exploring

Jonathan Cottrell

Chief Executive Wayfinder

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