At some point, most small business owners discover they can’t by themselves manage the many tasks of running a company. But hiring talent that will help you achieve your entrepreneurial aspirations is no simple task. There’s a lot at stake. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the estimated cost of a bad hire can equal 30 percent of the employee’s annual compensation. That’s a lot of money for a small business to absorb, so it pays to do all you can to make sure you’re choosing the right candidates for positions within your company.

In a recent blog post for the U.S. Small Business Administration, SCORE V.P. of Marketing and Communications Bridget Weston Pollack shared some tips on how to make smart hiring decisions.

Her advice includes:

  • Clarify what the position will entail.

That includes writing a detailed job description, which identifies responsibilities to be met and the skills and expertise needed. The more exact you are in defining what you’re looking for, the more effective you’ll be in identifying candidates who might be the right fit.

  • Find qualified applicants.

Social media networks, particularly LinkedIn, have become the go-to tools for finding viable job candidates. Ninety-four percent of recruiters use—or plan to use—social media for recruiting, and 73 percent of millennials say they found their last job through social media. More significant is businesses that used social media for hiring employees reported a 49 percent improvement in candidate quality over those found through traditional channels for recruiting.

  • Choose the best employee.

After taking the time to review resumes, narrow down your list of applicants to those you consider your top candidates. To ensure you legally conduct the interview process, educate yourself about fair employment practices. offers free resources that can help you. And don’t skip over checking references provided by the candidates—they can give you greater insight into your potential hires’ strengths and weaknesses.

While there’s no exact science to selecting the right employees, you’ll help ensure a successful hire by taking the time to follow these basic steps. For more guidance on best hiring practices, consider reaching out to your local SCORE chapter to talk with a SCORE mentor.

David Inskeep is a retired commercial lender, US Coast Guard Officer, and retired collegiate instructor.  He can be reached at  

Two storeowners with red aprons standing in front of their store