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Ask the entrepreneur: How to best hire an HR pro

4 min read


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Q. My company has grown and I am looking to hire an HR person for the first time. What should I look for (or avoid)?

1. Strength

A primary function of HR is to instill process and compliance in a complex world of regulations, vendors, process and internal people. They will be a key advocate of your culture, need to be approachable in sensitive situations and must know how to tow the line absolutely in difficult situations. — Trevor Sumner, LocalVox

2. Company alignment

You want to make sure that you’re all on the same page. Nothing can be worse than hiring an HR person who’s not aligned with the company. You need someone who fits well and meshes well with everyone in the company, who gets the company culture and is willing to help grow that with every new person that enters the company. — Peter Daisyme, Hosting

3. Flexibility

The HR profession has changed dramatically over the last few years, and continues to change. Big Data, recruitment segmentation and SaaS are affecting the way everyday responsibilities are now handled. You need someone with some HR experience (otherwise they’ll have no clue and no one to mentor them), but not so much that they are set in their ways and can’t adapt to your business requirements. — Alexandra Levit, Inspiration at Work

4. Approachability

The role of a human resources professional is to handle all matters relating to the people in your organization. To do so, your people need to feel comfortable in approaching the HR Manager with both good news and sensitive issues. Being approachable is a precursor to trust, which takes more time to build. Approachability takes the form of a warm and welcoming personality and an always open door. — David Ciccarelli,

5. Trustworthiness

The person should be approachable and versed in all aspects of HR. It’s important that they have good character you admire. — Chris Buehler, SCORCH

6. Business acumen

This person is going to be a member of your executive team, so they need to think strategically about the overall business. They need to present the risks and benefits of each decision and think about what the business needs. Make sure you’re making the right hire with blind reference checks. Ultimately this person will be driving the culture, so you need to have the right personality fit. — Ben Rubenstein, Yodle

7. Negotiation skills

In many situations (especially those that have two or more sides to the story), HR professionals must have the ability to negotiate and make solid decisions. They must be able to treat all employees and high level staff as equals, and must be able to create fairness in times of turmoil. HR professionals have the power to give and take away, so they must be able to negotiate on a frequent basis. — Miles Jennings,

8. Empathy

A good HR person can make or break it for your team. Training and experience are big pluses, but not everything. Look for someone who is goal-oriented yet empathetic. This person must really like what your company does. If they do, they will want to be there, and will look out for your best interests. They will also recruit like-minded people who will help you grow your business. — Andrew Kucheriavy, Intechnic

9. Attentiveness and responsiveness

An HR person needs to be extremely responsive to your employees as well as proactive. They should own retention as their professional goal. Attention to detail is a must on the financials and benefits. You always want someone who is very courteous and cool-headed handling HR matters. — Jere Simpson, Kitewire Inc.

10. Leadership experience

An HR person really needs to get the psyche of the employee, understand their perspective and handle any interpersonal issues with extreme care. To be mature enough to handle HR and then to bring the best out of people, one should have leadership experience in some capacity. — Pratham Mittal, VenturePact