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Finding new hires who will shine, not rust…Step 1

Your hiring decisions will affect the growth and success of your business. So, how do you find the right person for the job? SNEWS® and the Outdoor Industry Association offer up a few key tips to help you get started finding that right person.

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Making the right hiring choices can be among the most important business decisions that you will make. Choose well, and your business grows and succeeds. Make the wrong choice…well, we’ve all been there. So the real question is, how do you find the right person for the job?

Begin by answering several questions

Why are you hiring this position?

Are you filling a job that someone left or filling a need in your company?

If you are replacing someone, now is the best time to adjust the job description. Think creatively about how to accomplish the work without adding staff (improve processes, eliminate work you don’t need to do, divide work differently, etc.) and then determine the best course of action for your company.

If you are filling a need, let that guide your search. Develop and prioritize the key requirements needed from the position and the special qualifications you seek in a candidate.

Posting Your Position

Getting your job in front of a wide variety of qualified candidates is an important step. Public online job boards will often deliver a high volume of applicants, but how many will be qualified? Make sure you are taking advantage of communications resources in your industry like trade publications and associations.

Two such places with recognized results are the SNEWS® Classifieds – — and the Outdoor Industry Association job board at SNEWS® classifieds run $80 for two months and OIA’s job board postings are free to OIA members – ahh, the benefits of membership. Both sites see very high traffic from qualified job-seekers.

In addition to job boards and industry publications, utilize your social network to spread the word about the position. Often your best candidates will be those that you find through referrals.

Depending on the level of the position, consider hiring executive recruiters that focus on your industry.

Narrowing down the pool

Sometimes applicants for your positions are also your customers, especially in our industry. Maintain the same standards of customer service in your search as you do in everyday business – that will ensure you keep a happy customer even if he or she is not the right person to fill the current job opening.

Send postcards or emails to each applicant to acknowledge receipt of the application. (State that if the candidate appears to be a good match for the position, you will contact the candidate to schedule an interview. If not, you will keep the person’s application/resume on file for a year in case other opportunities arise.)

Use the criteria you established to guide your search. Pay close attention to selecting candidates who have the skills and experience that are called for by the job description.

A few minutes on the phone with potential candidates will often give you great insight, and help you narrow down your pool to those that you want to interview.

Adam Forest with the Forest Group (, an executive recruiting firm, offered these insights:

“Conduct each search as if you are looking for a missing member of the tribe — tribe members need to posses a diversity of skills and experiences. Basically, don’t hire yourself over and over again.”

In his 16 years of conducting interviews, Adam has found that the following questions help give insight into the personal interests and daily life of a candidate. They also work really well from a distance, when you are screening applicants on the phone and trying to get a sense of who they are before inviting them in for a more formal interview.

  1. What was the last book you read?
  2. What keeps you up at night?
  3. What is the angriest that you have ever been?

Naturally, as you cull your list down it is also very important to do your homework and check references.


The interview process is like a test drive. It is a chance for you to see how well a candidate fits your needs. If you have done your homework, all of the people you interview should have the skills and experience to get the job done. The interview is your chance to see the rest of the picture. It is also the candidate’s opportunity to check out your organization.

Be sure to expose them to a large cross section of the company. Provide time for interaction with your existing employees. Make sure that the applicant has a good understanding of your corporate culture. It does no good to hire the perfect person if he or she isn’t comfortable in your work environment and decides to leave only months later.

According to outdoor industry executive recruiter Frank Whiting of The Whiting Group – — the best tools in an interview are time and exposure.

“Don’t rely on just a one-hour interview, spend hours with a candidate, and expose them to a large cross section of the company, including employees they may not directly work with,” notes Whiting.

“Even with a great interviewer, you will need to spend enough time with a prospective hire before their true colors will come out. Remember, time is your friend.”

SNEWS® and Outdoor Industry Association have teamed up to provide our readers with information updates from OIA. These updates will be published in SNEWS® every two weeks and will provide our readers with insights into OIA programs, benefits, initiatives and more that serve to provide a solid foundation for industry growth. If you are not already an OIA member, we encourage you to become one. For more information, go to