How to Know When It’s Time to Hire

Think back on the past few people you hired. How did you know it was time to add to your team? Did you really analyze whether another position was warranted or did you just feel busy? Did you absolutely need to replace Ralph after he retired? Maybe there’s a better way to make that call in the future.


To find out how a business leader can best determine when to make a new hire, we reached out to Mary Faulkner, head of talent at Denver Water. Here’s her advice on three typical hiring situations.

When Someone Leaves

People often treat it like a “no-brainer” to hire someone new when someone leaves the organization. This position existed before and now someone’s gone. Obviously you have to replace them, right?


Maybe not, Faulkner says. Before you reflexively hire to fill that position, she recommends analyzing the position itself. “The great thing about retirement or two weeks’ notice is you have time to discuss the position’s duties with the exiting employee’s supervisor or director,” she says. You may discover these duties can be reassigned to an existing staffer or staffers and that budget better used elsewhere, Faulkner says. You may find a slightly different skillset would meet your needs better, and adjust the job accordingly.


It also makes sense to evaluate the timeline of the position. Do you project the need for this position will be short term, or a few years? Denver Water is able to project this better with some jobs than others, Faulkner says. Its surveying needs are very steady, so the utility can predict how many surveyors it will need down the road. The accounting department is constantly budgeting and revising, so it’s harder to determine its needs, she says. If you aren’t certain you’ll need someone for a significant length of time, a temporary or contingent hire may make the most sense.

When Volume of Work Reaches a Critical Point

Do you feel busy? Congratulations! More work usually means more money, as long as you can get everything done on time. Does this mean you need to make a new hire? “This decision will really depend on you knowing a lot about your business and its core functions,” Faulkner says.

If the volume of work has risen because of a temporary project that is not a core function of your business, you probably need to hire some temporary staff. At Denver Water, Faulkner says, employees only work on core functions and temps are used for noncore work. If the utility were implementing a new software program, for example, the actual implementation could be done by outsiders with staff learning how to use and maintain it afterward, she says.

If the volume has risen because your business is cyclical, it may make sense to hire temporary, seasonal workers. Denver Water employs a climatologist to help it understand when the snow will begin falling and then melting so it can hire seasonal workers to maintain trails and ensure that reservoirs are ready to be loaded. Many retail stores staff up before Christmas. Call centers typically have extra staff on weekends, when they’re busiest. Whatever your cycle is, know it and staff for it.


If you see a sustained uptick in your core functions that you predict will last for several months or more, then it’s time to hire a new staffer, Faulkner says.

When You Have a Significant Skills Gap

Hiring for missing skills will again depend on knowing your business, Faulkner says. Are you doing something very specialized like bringing accounting in-house and need a CPA for the first time? In that case, it makes sense to hire someone with those skills.


In other instances, it may make more sense to train and develop current staffers. In the software example above, you could have someone from outside to install the system and transfer the data, while simultaneously training a current staffer to use and maintain the new system.


You’ll always need to balance bringing in fresh talent with cultivating the people already on board. “You can’t keep doing tons of hiring and no development. Employees will get angry and leave,” Faulkner says.


If your company is trying to determine if you are ready to hire, contact Frazee Recruiting to discuss your needs!