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Why Can't I Hire Good People?


I frequently ask groups of business owners what persistent problems hold them back. Almost always, at least one owner starts a conversation that goes something like this:

Owner: “You just can’t hire good people anymore.”

Me: “Okay, but has anyone hired a good person recently, maybe even today?”

Owner: “Anyone? Well, yeah, I’m sure someone has.”

Me: “So it is possible to hire good people? It can be done.”

Owner: “Well, yes, I suppose it’s possible.”

The conversations are usually longer than that. I often hear “proof” in the form of the stories we’ve all heard (and experienced) about candidates who couldn’t pass background checks, or who came to the interview drunk, or about new hires who no-showed the first day, or who lied on their resumes or who showed up to work with a disruptive or entitled “attitude.”

There is a lot of anecdotal evidence to prove there just aren’t any good candidates out there anymore.

However, just as often, there will be another owner in the room with a story of a great recent hire.





The Real Issue

I never intend to embarrass anyone. That’s not the point.

I ask the question to highlight the main reason so many of us can’t seem to hire good people: We don’t believe it’s possible.

That is the first and biggest obstacle: We don’t believe it’s possible. And it is entirely up to us to overcome that obstacle. 

That may be a deeply held, visceral belief, or it may be just a handy excuse for not putting out the necessary effort. Either way, that is the first and biggest obstacle we have to overcome, and it is entirely up to us to get it done.  

If we don’t believe it’s possible, we won’t really try to find great people. If we don’t try to find them, we don’t find them. When we don’t find them, it reinforces our belief that they don’t exist. We settle for the first candidate who walks through the door and, as a client of mine says, we “hire heartbeats.”

When the heartbeats don’t work out, it further reinforces our beliefs and the cycle of self-fulfilling beliefs spirals down and down to the point of resignation.




What Settling Looks Like

Resignation means we settle.

  • Instead of raising salaries to attract better candidates, we lower them because the “knuckleheads aren’t worth it.”
  • Instead of intentionally working to create an attractive environment to attract attractive candidates, we unintentionally create an unpleasant environment marked by our cynicism, vague expectations, and aloof relationships.
  • When we should be identifying and refining the qualifying traits of great candidates, we don’t because, well, because it’s work and what’s the use?
  • Instead of “Hiring slow and firing fast” as settled wisdom tells us we should, we do the opposite. We hire fast in order to get the painful process behind us as quickly as possible, and we fire “slow” in order to postpone the agony of doing it all over again.

Sound familiar? It is no wonder we have problems hiring good people! That’s no way to live.  


The Antidote To Settling

The antidote to resignation is evidence. When we look around, we are predisposed to find evidence in support of our damaging beliefs, and we do. It takes conscious effort at first, but it gets easier and easier to find abundant evidence to the contrary.

It is always there if we look for it.



You probably have evidence in your own business in the form of at least one trusted, loyal employee. You know, the irreplaceable team member you can’t live without and most fear losing. If you are the rare exception who doesn’t, then you know someone who does. There is abundant proof that it is possible.


The Most Important Step For Any Business

Hiring great people is the single most important, transformative step for any business.

Hiring great people is the single most important, transformative step for any business.

There is no greater payoff in business than the return we receive for our efforts to hire great people.

Imagine a team of people working with you who care as much about your business as you do. People who show up on time, who take initiative, who have positive attitudes, who smile, who show respect to you, their co-workers, and your customers. Oh yeah, and people who have the skills to do their jobs well.

What if you had a team of people like that? People all around us do. Why would you settle for less?

Once you begin to believe you don't have to settle for less, learn the best practices for hiring the right people for your business. Just as important as getting the right people on the bus, is getting the wrong people off. Here's how to handle the ones you know need to go. 


How About You?  

Do you have the team you dream of? Do you believe it’s possible to have such a team? Do you know the traits that make a team member great? Are you constantly recruiting, constantly looking to improve?