Can You Hire A-Players on a Budget?

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Hiring A-players can make the difference between a stable business and a booming one. Unfortunately, such high-performing talent costs a lot of money, right?

Not necessarily.

Sure, it’s easier to hire A-players when you have a huge hiring budget, but it’s not impossible to do on the cheap. If you know what to look for, you can hire A-players even when money is tight. The trick is to learn how to easily identify top talent.

What Makes an A-Player?

It’s usually fairly easy to see the difference between the A-players on your team and the rest of your workers. A-players are always focused on self-improvement and business growth. In the face of any obstacle, they immediately start problem-solving. Their work ethics are flawless, and they take ownership of everything they do.

It’s important to take note of these facts. Knowing what an A-player should look like is a good starting point for your hiring process. When you pay attention to candidates, you can usually spot the ones who have these A-player characteristics.

Spotting A-Player Potential in the Hiring Process

The first step in hiring A-players on a budget is to analyze candidates’ resumes with care. Look for proof of high cognitive ability, determination, and — most importantly — evidence that this candidate can grow as a person.

A growth mindset is one of the most important factors separating A-players from other candidates. And it’s especially important here: If you’re hiring A-players on a budget, you probably can’t afford to hire established A-players. But you can afford to hire candidates with A-player potential. These are people who haven’t quite reached A-player status yet, but they could with the right support. To identify this potential in candidates, look for proof of self-development and a growth mindset, like learning a new language or founding an association.

At Authority Hacker, we follow a fairly simple process to suss out A-player potential. We start by looking at their resume, and then we look at their answers to role-specific questions. Next, we schedule calls with the candidates who struck a chord, and then we’ll do a test assignment with each.  We also use Wonderlic to assess the cognitive abilities of candidates. All of this makes it easy to get to know a person and their A-player potential.

But that’s our process. It’s not the only one. You can adjust your hiring strategy for your company’s needs. For example, some companies don’t even ask for resumes, relying instead on questionnaires covering everything they might need to know about a candidate.

Regardless of how you shape your hiring process, remember that the ultimate aim is to uncover whether candidates have the A-player characteristics outlined above. As long as your process includes targeted ways to uncover these characteristics, it should work.

Nurturing Your A-Players

Identifying top talent is just the beginning. If you truly want A-players on a budget, you’ll need to tap into your candidates’ potential. That means nurturing your potential A-players by coaching them, helping them develop new skills, and showing them how to hone their crafts.

Personally, I recommend building an extensive knowledge base to aggregate templates, tutorials, guides, and explanations for all of your business processes. That way, new hires can easily access the information they need when they need it.

Communication is also key here. Make sure you keep in contact with new employees. Try to understand how they’re faring in their new position and what they need to continue growing into an A-player. Feedback is a crucial part of this process. You need to offer constructive feedback and be ready to accept feedback from your new hires to grow both your talent and your business.

Retaining and Engaging Your A-Players

Hiring A-players can have a profound effect on your business’s success, perhaps even more than innovating a new product or building the perfect site architecture to attract attention to your operation. But to get the full value of your A-players, you have to give them a reason to stick around — especially when you’re growing your own A-players in-house.

Compensation is a vital means of keeping A-players engaged, but you may not have the budget to shell out a hefty salary. What you can do is offer a generous bonus scheme tied to company profit. That way, compensation can scale as your business scales.

These bonuses don’t just apply to sales agents who drive new contracts or marketing specialists who drum up new leads. Any contribution to your business helps you make more money. For example, a video editor is working on content that gets uploaded to YouTube; more content means more views; more views means more potential customers.

Of course, money isn’t the only thing that matters to employee retention — although it is an important piece of the puzzle. But A-players also want strong company cultures and organizations that support their needs. Remote work, flexible hours, and fun team activities can all be powerful ways to boost engagement and retention as well.

Does This All Work Remotely?

The short answer is yes, definitely. Our company has been hiring A-players fully remotely since before the pandemic forced many workers to stay at home, and we’ve had a lot of success with it. In fact, we’d say that hiring remotely helps you find A-players on a budget even more easily.

When you hire remotely, you have access to talent from all across the globe. That means you can find truly stellar employees whose salary requirements are way lower than they would be in the US or Western Europe.

However, if you’re used to working with your team in an office context, you will need to keep some things in mind when hiring and training A-players remotely:

Communicate clearly: Details can easily get lost in a remote context when employees aren’t working side by side. Have frequent meetings (just don’t overdo it, since it can harm productivity), and make sure you communicate with intent and purpose.
Invest in remote work tools: Communication and task-management tools like Slack, Asana, Monday, or Trello are extremely valuable for keeping remote workers in the loop and on task.
Adapt your culture: Working from home is a different experience for everyone, so make sure you’re constantly gauging what works and what doesn’t for your employees. Talk to them honestly about remote work, and refine your business practices accordingly.

Hiring A-players when you don’t have a huge budget is all about identifying potential and helping your promising employees grow. It’s not as easy as simply paying for an established A-player from the start, but it’s worth it when you can’t afford to go that route.

By focusing on identifying potential and training the people in our company, we managed to build a team of A-players without breaking the bank. And you can, too.

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Gael Breton is one half of the Authority Hacker duo, a business that specializes in helping people build profitable, sustainable online businesses. His business philosophy is quality over quantity, and he places a huge emphasis on hiring the right people for the right job at the right time!