The topic of hiring has come up a lot recently in the Startup Sioux Falls community and this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone given our city’s historically-low unemployment rate. Chelsea Giedd, a local boutique owner in Sioux Falls, recently published a series of podcast episodes about hiring and that got me thinking about how we do hiring at MarketBeat. MarketBeat currently has seven employees a handful of independent contractors that are in Sioux Falls. We’re not a big company by any means, but I have developed a hiring strategy that has worked for our small business and I think it’s worth sharing. Especially because, no one has ever quit or gotten fired from MarketBeat, GoGo Photo Contest or Startup Sioux Falls.
Our hiring strategy is simple:
- Be actively engaged in the community and meet a lot of different people.
- Of the people that you’ve met, hire the ones that you like.
- Offer them a salary and benefits package they can’t refuse.
Allow me to elaborate.In 2013, I decided that I was tired of being a lone-wolf entrepreneur operating out of my home office without a lot of human connection during the day. At the time, I had one part-time employee and knew that I would need to build a team over the next several years. I got involved with a variety of different non-profit organizations and community groups, such as 1 Million Cups, Downtown Rotary, Sioux Falls Seminary, and the Zeal Center. I started going to networking events through the Chamber and other technology and startup meetup groups in our community. I also started working downtown at coffee shops, The Bakery and a small office of my own. As a result, I met a lot of different people simply by showing up to events and volunteering with several different organizations.
As the months and years went on, I got to know a lot of people, seeing their strengths, weaknesses and work habits. Eventually, I found some people that I thought I would really enjoy working with and offered them jobs. For example, I met my second employee, Rebecca McKeever, at a now-defunct coworking space called The Bakery. I saw her work, hired her to do a couple of freelance projects and eventually hired her to work full time at MarketBeat.
I met my fourth employee, Will Bushee, at a technology meetup called South Dakota Geeks several years back. I met my fifth employee, Ryan Quam, at an informal gathering of technology enthusiasts that meets on Thursday mornings at Queen City Bakery. Both Ryan and Will worked for a company called BrightPlanet that was going out of business. I knew they were both competent technologists and offered them both positions when their jobs ended in December 2018.
I met my sixth employee, Maureen Ohm, at 1 Million Cups. She was previously a 1 Million Cups organizer, so I knew what her capabilities and strengths were from her volunteer role. When it came time for me to hire an executive assistant, Maureen was the first person I thought of. I also met Becky Squyer and Miranda Ochocki, who are both freelancers for Startup Sioux Falls through 1 Million Cups.
I don’t have any special job posting websites or Facebook groups I use to advertise new positions at MarketBeat. I don’t write lengthy job descriptions or dream about the attributes of the perfect candidate. I don’t have unique interview questions or have multiple people interview each candidate. I just think of everyone that I know in the Sioux Falls community that I know that I think would be good at the job and ask friends, family and business acquaintances for potential candidates as well. Once I’ve identified someone I might want to hire, I have a conversation with them to gauge their interest in a position and see if it’s a fit. I usually don’t need to actually interview them, because I already know who they are and what they’re about.
If I find someone that I want to hire who also wants to work for MarketBeat, I’ll make an employment offer that’s better than what they would get from most other companies in town. MarketBeat has the luxury of paying above-market salaries due to our 70% profit margin, so we can typically afford to pay higher wages than other companies competing for the same candidates in our community. We also allow our employees to work from home, a downtown office, the Zeal Center, or pretty much wherever they would like. We pay for the employee’s health insurance, offer a generous 401K plan and have a charitable giving matching plan as well. It would be very unlikely that someone ever leaves MarketBeat for another company because of better pay and benefits.
How MarketBeat hires people won’t work for every company, especially if your company needs to hire more than a dozen employees, but it has worked well for us though. I meet a lot of people. I hire the people I like. I offer them enough money to provide for their families and give them a healthy work environment. My employees have told me they like their jobs and the work that they do. We’ve also never had a miss-hire. Our hiring strategy isn’t elaborate or complicated, but it does require a commitment to be involved in one’s community, meeting a lot of people, getting to know a lot of people and really putting in the time. It’s a much slower process than posting job applications online, but I think we have built one of the best and most effective teams of technology employees in Sioux Falls.