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Talent Pairing 101: Matching People to the Right Positions

4 Mins read

One of the most vital parts of scaling any small business is hiring the best candidates and making sure they’re in the right positions. Only then can companies unleash their team’s full potential and attain peak productivity.

This is what talent pairing is all about. Below, I explain how to find the right people and pair them with the roles that will unlock their best performance to the benefit of your small business.

Get into the nitty-gritty of the role

Small business owners and leaders have an advantage over hiring managers at large corporations, since many had to perform various roles themselves when first starting their businesses. This means they may have personal experience with the open roles they need to fill, and understand these positions in detail.

This nitty-gritty understanding is exactly what a hiring manager needs to attract and select the right candidates. Although, if you don’t have personal experience with the role yourself, it’s important to take the time to develop a comprehensive overview of the job — just reading the previous job description isn’t enough. For one thing, it may no longer be up to date. For another, you want to hire someone who will be with you long into the future, so the job description should be similarly forward-looking.

When acquainting yourself with the open role, consider the tasks the new hire will need to perform. What skills, training, or abilities would be necessary? How would the employee spend an average day? What values would align well with the requirements of the position? Ideally, what sort of personality would the person have? The more detailed and concrete you can make the job description, the better your chances of matching the best candidate for the role.

Talent versus non-talent

As most small business owners and leaders already understand, today’s labor market is extremely competitive. An article in CNBC calls it a “juggernaut” and notes, “American workers are in the throes of a historic job market, characterized by low unemployment and layoffs, relatively fast-rising wages and a high degree of job-seeker confidence.”

These pressures on businesses — and especially small businesses — might tempt those responsible for hiring to leap on the first promising leads they come across. This, however, would be a mistake.

The simple truth is that vetting candidates remains important. For instance, keep in mind that some applicants exaggerate on their resumes. According to a recent survey, 55 percent of Americans have lied on their resumes at least once. This tendency was most pronounced in the manufacturing, healthcare, and creative professions, as well as in business management and administration. Believe it or not, almost a quarter of respondents listed a college degree on their resumes when, in reality, they hadn’t actually earned one. In my experience, some applicants even try to game personality questionnaires, even though honesty would be in their own best interests.

To hire the right people, hiring managers must spot who is being honest, and who is not. Conducting cross-checks, while time-consuming, is necessary to base hiring decisions on accurate information. If an applicant says they have a degree, ask for official transcripts sent directly from the institution in question. Since services exist that provide fake references, hiring managers can either research recommenders themselves or employ fraud detectors like Checksters.

In addition, hiring managers should find ways to clearly distinguish between talented candidates and those merely posing as such. To identify the best candidates, I look for problem-solvers who are always raising the bar because, to me, that’s what true talent looks like. Toward this end, I ask questions about previous problems applicants have solved or are currently working on. I also look for people who demonstrate genuine enthusiasm for learning and continuous improvement.

Pairing the candidates

After you’ve developed a detailed understanding of both the role and the candidates, it’s time to find the right matches. At times, this can be more of an art than a science — of course, it’s never possible to pair talent with 100 percent success — but as a hiring manager, you should get an overall feel for which candidates might thrive best in which roles, working with which people.

In general, you want the finalists to have the skills, education, values, and personality styles that would best fit the role. But there is another important component that many small business owners forget to consider: candidates’ own personal motivations. 

Ask yourself if this position would enable a candidate to develop professionally in a way they would find exciting. Are they the kind of person whose intrinsic desire for order and organization would bode well, given the requirements of the role, or are they the kind of person who thrives in chaos and amid interruptions?

The best person to hire will be the person who already has a natural motivation to fulfill the requirements of the job. It might seem counterintuitive, but candidates who check every other box on the job description but don’t have the right motivation should be passed over in favor of those who do — even if they have less experience or training. That’s because the latter are likely to feel more comfortable and be more engaged with their work than the former.

Finally, your existing team should get a chance to meet and interview the finalists for the position. Neglecting this step can be costly if you hire someone who doesn’t gel well with the rest of the team on a personal level. People spend a lot of time at work with coworkers, so if they don’t get along with others on their team, the workplace’s culture can suffer. For this reason alone, it’s worth slowing down and scheduling a final round of interviews.

Talent pairing for the long run

Effective talent pairing helps small businesses grow. The time and effort you put into finding the right person and placing them into the right role will pay off in the long run. 

Moreover, it will avoid wasting time and money on the wrong people. To ensure your small business’s future, prioritize talent pairing!

Gerlie Corachea is the Director of Talent Pairing at Cyberbacker, the leading provider of virtual assistance services worldwide. An expert in talent management, onboarding, culture, and skills training, she manages the Career Division at Cyberbacker, which is responsible for pairing candidates and clients within the organization.

Image by Alyibel Colmenares from Pixabay

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