100 People You Forgot to Hire

No matter the size, location, or nature of your business, recruitment is likely one of your biggest challenges. Finding and retaining great talent is becoming increasingly difficult.

Promoting from within is your first course of action. The next step is leveraging connections, such as friends, family, and associates of top-tier talent. Many of your greatest hires will come from these introductions. Then what?

Where do you look next for the people that will be the face of your business? How do you improve your odds of finding, engaging, and hiring great employees?

Once you’ve exhausted your list of known candidates, it’s time to look to your internal sources. These are the people who have worked with you, for you, or in your industry. Maybe you couldn’t pick them out of a line-up, but you have a handle on them. Brainstorm with your top talent and start taking names.


Internal sources include:

Great employees who left on good terms. Don’t forget temporary workers and interns. Not only do they know what you’re about, they have likely gained a wealth of experience since you last met, and might be the perfect addition to your staff. These potential employees will have a much shorter learning curve than new hires and will hit the ground running, saving you a great deal of time and money when it comes to training.

“Hey-remember Glen? That great intern we had last year? He would knock this project out of the park. Let’s track him down!”

Your retirees. Retired people of all ages are returning to the workforce like never before. Retirees often miss the financial and social benefits of the workplace. Consider retirees from other companies and industries as well.

Seniors come from an era where employees had a solid work ethic. These employees will have a lifetime of knowledge and their experience will balance your young, green and eager team members. Older employees provide an entirely different point of view, with the added benefit of insight into their demographic. In many cases they have a lot more freedom (and a lot fewer responsibilities) than their junior counterparts. They are rarely juggling toddlers, another part-time job, or a demanding university professor. Seniors tend to be extremely reliable and they are an overlooked sector of job seekers.

Applicants you interviewed in the past. They’ve already expressed an interest in working with your company and they’ve been assessed and vetted. Most of your work here is already done.

Applicants you almost hired. They were second choice last time. They’ve had time to grow, learn, and mature. Give them a second look.

Applicants you attempted to hire. They may have dropped out of the interview or application process or declined a past offer. Things change. Perhaps they are ready now. There’s only one way to find out.

Applicants who needed more experience. They’ve acquired more life and work experience and might now be a perfect fit for your team. Ask them.

The ‘Just Looking’ Crowd. This group of candidates includes the elusive top-tier talent currently working for your competition, and although they are the most difficult to attract, they are a primary target. These are the people that are already making headlines in the industry and have their choice of employers.

Approach them as you would a prospective customer. Identify them, target them, then sell them on your company and the position. A social media platform that doesn’t require individuals to formally apply for a position with your company can serve as an introduction, and eventually turn passive applicants to active ones. Whether it is through your website, or a social media profile, allowing interested parties a chance to get to know your company with no strings attached is a proven way to secure future talent-especially individuals that don’t even know they’re looking yet.

Now, let’s look at some external sources.

You are going to have to physically go out and find these unknown candidates, so this is a perfect time to involve your HR team and top-shelf talent.

Universities. Over 80% of American companies recruit on campus. How can you find great talent when the prestigious schools have been picked over by the big companies?

Large firms often overlook smaller, more remote schools in favor of the Ivy League, top universities and tech schools, and even their own alma maters. They are inundated with applicants and rarely need to look any further for top-tier talent, leaving first-rate grads from smaller university and college campuses out in the cold. Bring them in.

High schools. Be on their radar as early as possible. Be memorable. Send captivating speakers to their job fairs. People don’t forget who took an interest in them early on. Pay particular attention to students who have won scholarships and academic awards, and enlist the help of teachers to recruit students showing interest and aptitude in your field.

Your community. Throw your company’s hat in the ring for local employer excellence awards. Sponsor relevant teams and events. Do an interview with the local paper. Stand out, and be known for being a community-driven business.

In 2003, Canada’s Purolator employees decided to take action in their community by creating Purolator Tackle Hunger, an initiative that has delivered more than 18 million meals to families across the country. This kind of good will can raise your profile in the community.

Forums and boards. Look for smart, relevant conversations among people using industry-specific platforms. You can also search online forums where the free exchange of ideas is expected and encouraged. Target passionate people with great questions, answers, insights, and ideas, whether they are actively searching for a career change or not. Make use of smaller, industry-specific networking sites as well. Online platforms are especially helpful if you are hiring for a geographically remote position or if your company is new and is not yet well-known.

Interesting conference and seminar speakers. Maybe these expert speakers are ready to get back in the game. Even if they aren’t, they meet qualified people who are literally obsessed with your industry on a daily basis. What better source for inspired, ongoing referrals?

Trade show exhibitors. You know them. Those dynamic people you see in action, and know immediately that you want them on your team. Be discreet and professional, but make sure you get their card, and let your interest be known as soon as possible.

Trade show attendees. Applicants can (and will) feign interest in an interview. At trade shows and similar events you have the rare opportunity to target individuals who are displaying obvious interest in your field. No one gets out of bed at 5am on a Saturday to attend a lecture on cheese-making unless they really love making cheese.

Followers on social media. They’ve already done you the favor of “liking” you on social media. Show them a little interest right back. One push of a button can turn someone from a passive applicant to an active one.

Online job boards. Monster represents almost 15% of US job seekers with around twenty million profiles and resumes, and those numbers are growing fast. Indeed sees 200 million visitors a month. There are thousands of industry-specific platforms on the internet. Online job boards are a valuable tool for growing your pool of candidates and you won’t want to pass them up.

LinkedIn. With over 500 million users in over 200 countries you can’t afford not to be on LinkedIn. Leverage every contact you’ve got. Your top talent has quality associates. Connect with them.

Contractors. Websites such as UpWork and Freelancer can be a great source of contract workers both locally and off-shore. This can be an excellent option for project-based work, and if things go well, you can consider offering them a permanent job when they’re done. Of course, these types of sites are best suited for work that can be done remotely, but local contract workers can often come into your place of work as well.

Recruitment agencies. There are 20 agencies that would bang down your door this very moment to be your go-to for superior talent. The question is, can they produce? How do you recruit the recruiters? If the best measure of a recruiting agency is how long quality hires stay with the company, perhaps the truth of the matter is that most recruitment companies haven’t been in business long enough to be gauged by this particular yardstick. How can we piece together an accurate picture of their value, now and in the future? Find a recruiting agency collects data at every stage of the hiring process for more useful results. A great many agencies leave a lot of information “on the table.” Insist upon measurable, quantifiable data on an ongoing basis.

Every business is unique and will use various combinations of recruitment solutions:

Canadian HR manager Stephanie Bentzen credits keeping her finger on the pulse of local hostels with her recruitment success. Bentzen staffs Vancouver’s Isadore Landscaping, and insists that contrary to public opinion, Vancouver is rife with eager recruits. They are arriving daily with 2 year work visas from countries all over the world. “You just have to know where to look. Get creative,” says Bentzen. She also relies heavily on Craigslist, relevant job boards, online forums and cultivated referral sources in various government employment offices when searching for seasonal and full-time employees. She is currently arranging a work placement and job shadow for a local grade 11 student with an Isadore foreman that specializes in carpentry, the teen’s primary interest. It seems obvious that this hiring manager has the foresight to look to the future for her next quality hire. Bentzen has benefited from thinking outside of the box when it comes to finding talented recruits.

Recruitment requires a balance of new approaches and traditional methods, and certainly much more time, delicacy, and attention than it used to. The optimal recruiting system will provide a high percentage of quality applicants and allow you to recognize them when you see them.

By maximizing your use of internal sources you will find often-overlooked candidates among personal and industry contacts. Taking advantage of multiple external resources will grow your talent pool and increase your odds of tracking down your ideal employee. Try a few angles that you hadn’t previously considered and you may find new success in sourcing and retaining great talent.


Firing an Employee as Painlessly as Possible


Wondering if you should let someone go? Ask yourself: “Knowing what I know now, would I hire this person if they landed on my doorstep this afternoon with a resume?” The answer will give you a clear message.

Maybe you inherited employees. Maybe you hired in a rush when you had a key role to fill. Maybe last year’s spectacular hire has lost their shine. Whatever the reason, no matter how much time and energy you put into hiring the perfect candidate, eventually you will find yourself having to fire someone. It is one of the hardest challenges you will face as a business owner, but once you’ve made the decision to let someone go, acting swiftly is the best course of action.

Sometimes you’re just not going the same direction. Sometimes the job is simply done. If an employee is leaving of their own accord, make sure to schedule an exit interview. Final interviews lower turnover rate, increase employee retention, and generate honest, useful feedback. Exit interviews can also promote networking, keeping the door open with the employee who is leaving for future collaboration and referrals.

A savvy business owner consciously and consistently refrains from burning bridges. Today’s redundant engineer could be the champion of tomorrow’s huge project. The IT specialist who left to start their own company may opt to return to your firm’s steady pay cheque and great benefits. A salesperson may leave, but prove to have an extensive network of top quality associates to send your way for years to come. Things end. It’s how we end them that counts.

With over 3 billion people using social media worldwide and over 80% of North Americans using a social network, an unhappy employee can cause a lot of damage. Current and former employees are likely discussing your business or your management style on global platforms, online communities, job boards and market-specific forums. Comments and feedback, whether positive or negative, accurate or totally off-base, can spread like wildfire. Employees also have a great amount of influence with friends, families and associates on social media. While business relationships don’t always work out like we had hoped, a little grace, tact and humanity can go a long way towards maintaining your firm’s reputation.

When you have to let someone go, do it as gently and honestly as possible, without apologies. Always give your people the benefit of the doubt, especially a long-standing employee. Hear them out, and if appropriate, offer any help you can provide.

That being said, the old adage ‘hire slow and fire fast’ is almost always the right way to approach a problematic employee. Delivering bad news is never easy. Think about your company, your clients, and your other employees — the ones picking up the slack and working longer hours to make up for someone else’s poor performance. It’s in their best interest too. The person you have to let go will be better off in short order as well. Sometimes people get ‘stuck.’ They are likely not happy where they are, and hopefully it will push them towards finding a career that they love.


A few more things to keep in mind that can make firing an employee less painful:

1. Never fire without a witness in the room. Ensure that incidents have been well documented. Talk to your lawyer directly if you have any concerns.

2. Know what you are going to say and get to it immediately. Don’t draw the conversation out any longer than it needs to be, and don’t mince words. “Mike, I have bad news, and I am going to get right to the point. You haven’t hit your quotas for three months in a row, and I have to let you go.”

3. Stick to the facts, and don’t become embroiled in an argument. It serves no purpose, and will only add fuel to the fire.

4. Have the employee’s final cheque (and severance package if applicable) ready if possible. It reassures them that you plan to conclude your relationship fairly.

5. Afford every employee the opportunity to leave in a dignified manner. “I’d be happy to walk out of here together as if it’s just business as usual. I appreciate how difficult this is, and don’t want to embarrass you. How do you want to play it?”

6. Break the news Monday morning. It would be great for you to get this over with at the end of the week, but firing on a Friday doesn’t sit well with an upset, terminated employee. There isn’t much a person can do to move forward on a Saturday or Sunday. Breaking the news on a Monday gives the employee every chance to successfully transition to another company sooner, and tends to result in less litigation.

7. Try not to fire someone just before the holidays, on their birthday or if they have just experienced a devastating event, such as the loss of a family member or spouse. This looks inhumane, even if it is justifiable, and it can demoralize not only them, but your entire organization.

8. Ensure the safety of other employees and customers with on-site security if you think it might be warranted.

9. If you need any documents signed, don’t push. Allow the employee to take them, or have a package couriered to their home. Obtain any keys, credit cards, and security items that a disgruntled ex-employee might be tempted to misuse before a cooling off period.

10. Gather your team as soon as possible to inform them of what has happened and how it will affect them. Change makes people nervous. Reassure them that there were grounds for dismissal but do not go into any details. “As some of you may already be aware, Jennifer is no longer part of this organization. If you have suggestions about how to minimize the impact of her absence, please let me know.”


Above all, learn from your mistakes. Take the time to implement new hiring and reference checking practices immediately. Discuss how to prevent bad hires in the future with your team, and keep them involved in the hiring process. Deal with employee issues the moment they arise as little things can quickly become big things. There will never be a good time to fire someone, but if you act quickly and fairly, you can minimize the damage and focus on moving forward.

6 Ways to Find and Keep 'A Players'

Who are A Players and why are they essential to your business?

They are ambitious, intelligent, creative, dynamic leaders who promote innovation, collaboration, and healthy competition. The top 10%. The best and the brightest. They never stop learning, and bring with them the capacity to grow with your company. They excel individually, strengthen any team, and you should never settle for less.

Mis-hires cost vast amounts in time and training, but they also cost you in ways that you may never know, at every level. A delivery person driving recklessly in a truck with your logo could cost untold millions in bad advertising. A human resources manager with an unchecked ego might not award a position to the best person for the job because they feel threatened. Any substandard employee could sabotage your business. Continuing to operate with less than stellar employees is damaging to morale, and your entire organization will suffer.

A Players elevate your business, not just in the obvious ways translating to sales, profits, and growth, but in unseen ways as well. Their presence in the community is always known. The fact that they have chosen to work for your company, above all others, inspires confidence from clients and coworkers alike, and bolsters your corporate culture.

Even if your employees aren't “costing you,” are they Peak Performers or just Average Joes? The Harvard Business Review reports that “up to 80% of employee turnover is the result of poor hiring practices & decisions.”

Taking the time to hire the right people the first time provides a solid foundation on which to build. Every A Player you add to your roster exponentially increases your company’s pool of knowledge, talent, and creativity. Seek them out, and your business will flourish.


Here are 6 proven ways to find and keep top shelf talent:


A Players have their pick of companies to work for. Why should they choose yours? While we must reward our employees fairly, the answer is not always about money. Value-based incentives such as public recognition, freedom, flexibility, and creative opportunities can be powerful motivators for this type of person.

You can attract high caliber talent by keeping your current team engaged, by offering continued education and training, and by publicly rewarding success. A Players love to learn. If your culture enthusiastically supports personal and professional growth, word spreads like wildfire. Provide top players with the tools they need. Online courses, conferences, workshops, for example, are integral to their continued success.

But whatever the carrot, it’s only a part of the big picture to an A Player. Their unwavering integrity demands that they work for a company with a vision that matches their own. So if you’ve got big dreams, talk about them.

Share your vision enthusiastically and often. Keeping it inside your head serves no-one, least of all yourself.

Very few enterprises foster excellence, but there are a handful of companies that anyone would jump at the chance to work for. Be that kind of company, and your people will do your advertising for you--the kind that money can’t buy.

Before you go looking for your next great hire, spend a little time getting clear on what you are trying to accomplish.If you don’t know what you’re looking for, how can you expect anyone else to? What will the role look like on a day to day basis? What will success look like for this person? How will your corporate culture affect your expectations? What skills, knowledge, and competencies will be necessary to not just do the job, but be spectacular at it? Specific, measurable goals that are challenging but realistic set the bar, allowing candidates to envision a pathway to their own success. 

By defining both the position and your ideal candidate, you can not only expect talented A Players to take notice, but you will recognize them when you see them as well. Hiring is difficult enough at the best of times, so anything you can do to tip the odds in your favor of finding the right candidate is worth the effort.


When people know that there is opportunity for advancement, they often give more than you ask of them. This holds especially true for A Players, but a vision of a compelling future and can even turn a B Player into a star. When other employees recognize excellence in the workplace, not only will they strive for it, it becomes the status quo.

If you have people with a proven track record that want to move forward with your company, help them succeed! Passing over talent can lead to resentment and dissatisfaction, whereas promoting from within strengthens your core and boosts morale. Just as your business is ever changing, and continuously growing, so must your people change and grow. Encourage them, and celebrate and reward their success.


Your A Players know the culture, the job, and the expectations; they wouldn't dream of recommending anyone but the best. And since “like attracts like”, consider hosting a friends and family night to facilitate introductions. Attend networking events with your team. Or offer a bonus for quality referrals. There are countless ways to utilize your existing connections to your benefit. Inevitably, incredible people surround themselves with other amazing individuals. Encourage yours to introduce you to their top quality associates, and bring them on board.


The old lie: “More is better.” 400 resumes to wade through from a generic help wanted ad will only compound your staffing issues. Perhaps a few of the resumes are from A Players, but the chances of recognizing them in this sea of mediocrity are a bit like finding a needle in a haystack.

The best recruiting messages repel the wrong candidates as much as they attract the right ones. Besides the usual suspects such as a great job description, and minimum qualifications and experience, postings should showcase the personality of your business, allowing applicants to see for themselves if they are an ideal fit. Showcasing your company, its mission statement, and its values serves as a beacon to the top tier talent you want to attract and helps discourage those who might not be such a good fit.. Advertise the right way, to the right people, for exceptional results.

Besides the standard recruiting platforms such as Indeed or LinkedIn, how else can you source your networks?There are countless platforms to reach out to potential stars. Just don't expect that they know you are looking for them--tell them, using every tool in your arsenal.

Ensure your presence on social media is front and center, accurately reflects your culture, and involves every A Player you’ve got. Experiment with various job boards and track your results meticulously. Where are your highest quality leads coming from? Use what works, but never stop searching for innovative ways to find your next great hire.


Your competitors have A Players on their payroll who would jump at the chance to join your amazing team. Make sure they know you are looking for them. Provide them with a simple, confidential avenue to approach you. Ensure that your website funnels potential first-rate hires to you quickly and efficiently. Take notice and take action when high caliber talent knocks on your door. Add them to your team if you can, or they will be your competition soon enough.

Recruiting agencies are the next logical step. If you can’t find these elusive A Players, find someone who can. Your employees are the face of your business; external recruitment can be expensive, but it is not as costly as having the wrong person representing you. Never settle for second best.


Above all, be a company that stands out from the crowd. Make your business attractive to potential employees and you will increasingly attract A Players to your team. By keeping your top talent interested and engaged with continual new learning opportunities, you will maintain the strong team you've invested in. Take the time to build a strong foundation with your team and watch your business grow.

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