Start: Mark Evans

Hire smart as the freeze lifts

Special to The Globe and Mail

(Justin Sullivan/2009 Getty Images)

Since launching ME Consulting a year ago, one of the things that has remained fairly consistent is the number of companies taking a cautious and pragmatic approach to hiring full-time employees.

Instead, they are getting things done by having existing employees to do more and, when necessary, using external resources on a contract or project basis. For someone like me who works on projects for most clients, it has been a pretty good environment to do business.

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There are indications that companies are starting to explore the idea of hiring full-time employees, although it will be done only when strategically necessary. One of the major issues facing firms that hire full-time is they can't afford to make a mistake. Hiring the wrong person means starting the process all over again, which costs time, money and resources.

So how do you hire "smart," particularly when you're a small business or a start-up that doesn't have the luxury of an HR department? Is there a way to avoid making a hiring mistake?

Ben Baldwin, co-founder of Toronto-based ClearFit , which provides companies with online tools to identify the best job candidates, says businesses should start to hire better by placing less emphasis on résumés.

"Résumés are only a small part of an individual, and the people who have succeeded the best within their organizations are not those who have the skills to do the job but - more important - those who fit the type of role and the organization the best. It's these people who are the happiest in their jobs and who have the most success," he said.

Mr. Baldwin says this means companies need to put more stock in understanding and evaluating an individual's potential fit for a role within an organization.

To avoid hiring the wrong person, Mr. Baldwin says to focus on "hiring for fit," which includes the necessary skills, personality and motivation.

"You can always train someone who fits, but you can't change someone's fit no matter how many expensive courses you send them to," he says. "This is an issue with all hiring, including technical roles where hiring managers are sometimes lured by stellar résumés."

Special to the Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers 'stories' for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups - Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye - so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences .