As creator businesses continue to scale, there is a dire need to find qualified talent. I’ve helped creators hire 100+ employees with the systems outlined in this article.
I had the privilege of sharing this info in a presentation at VidCon and wanted to make it publicly available to help answer many of the questions I receive.
This system is battle-tested and bears many scars from the mistakes I’ve made along the way. Take it and run!
- Before you hire
- When to hire
- Who to hire
- How to hire
- The dark side
Disclaimer: This is the process that I use that fits YouTube and gets great talent in the door. Please consult legal or HR professionals in your area to make sure your backend processes are ship shape!
Gather around 🔥
Before You Hire
Do not pass go, do not collect $200 before you understand these:
Know Your Goals
Hiring is NOT for everyone. Stop and consider if you want to:
→ Build an empire
→ Build your lifestyle
In other words, do you want to achieve scale for your business or do you want to get relief and let your channel be more autonomous?
One is not superior to the other; it all comes down to preference.
Don’t stress too much here - your choice can always be reversed.
Before hiring, you need to take stock of what your company/channel actually needs. Don’t hire an editor just because everyone else is doing it. Be more intentional here to save yourself months of headaches down the line.
More details on this in the next section.
Understand that hiring is not a quick hack that gives you near limitless potential. If that was the case, everyone would have employees. It can take weeks or months of intentional training to get a new hire up to speed.
Will you be spending 9 hours a day editing? No. Yay!
But you will still be spending a portion of that time on training, feedback, and systems to keep the machine running.
Systems and Processes
Trust me when I say it’s much easier to prepare before hiring than to attempt to build out systems after a team is in place. But don’t stress if this is already you! I help creators with this all the time - it’s not optimal, but it is doable.
The content creation doesn’t stop; you’re just adding an additional human and all the complications that go along with that.
How smoothly they fit depends on how well prepared the system is.
I smell another article coming soon 👀
When To Hire
Now that you’ve decided hiring is for you, how soon do you make it happen?
As ASAP as
Just because peanut butter and pickles can technically be put on a sandwich together, does NOT mean that they should.
Just because you can hire someone, doesn’t mean you should. How do you know when it’s viable to make a hire?
Let’s look at these three ingredients 👇️
1. Financially Feasible
This one is self-explanatory so I won’t spend a ton of time here. Employees (contracted or full-time) cost money. If this comes as a shock to you, please read my other articles and come back to this a bit later 🤗
2. Know What You Want Done
If you don’t know what (or how) you want something done, you’re setting your future employees up for failure and yourself up for a world of frustration.
If the deepest you go before hiring someone is “Man, I wish someone else would edit this instead of me” you need to dig a bit deeper.
→ What do you want your edits to look like?
→ How quickly do you need them turned around?
→ Are there any quirks that are specific to your videos?
If you don’t know what you want, how will anyone else?
3. Bottleneck in Quality or Opportunity
Having issues with quality?
→ You’re probably spending too much time on low-leverage tasks that could be done better + faster by others. This can also lead you to:
Feeling like you’re missing opportunities?
→ You probably aren’t spending enough time on high-leverage tasks that actually move your business forward.
But don’t feel bad! These are a natural part of growth. You just need to find…
Who To Hire
Does this hit home for you?
If everything is on you, it’s difficult to get your head above water to know what needs doing. which part of the iceberg should you tackle first? Let’s answer that for you:
Write down everything you do for an entire week. No shortcuts or fibs.
Did you spend 7 hours editing a single transition? Write it down.
Did you spend 47 mins getting the shading right on a thumbnail? Write it down.
At the end of the week, total each category/task.
Two things will happen:
→ You’ll see where you can be more efficient
→ You’ll see where others can add the most value
Have your list? Great, now we…
For each category, determine if it is a(n):
Do your categories have categories? Great. Now Xhibit is proud and we can move on to…
Prioritize offloading time consuming tasks that are ALSO not your Specific Mastery.
“But, Trent! What does specific mastery mean? Also you’re so handsome.”
I know and thanks for asking. Here’s how I define a creator’s Specific Mastery:
Given this definition, I would argue that Hayden Hillier-Smith’s Specific Mastery is NOT editing. Editing style can be matched (if you disagree, I’ll fight you IRL).
What can’t be matched? Vision and personality.
Typical First Hires
After walking through this process, most creators land on one of two options depending on their goals:
→ Editors (lifestyle or slower scale)
→ Operators (goal: scale quickly)
So now we finally know who we want to bring on. How does that happen?
How To Hire
There are tons of resources for writing great job descriptions, but here’s my down-n-dirty breakdown:
Who you are/what your company is:
- Why do you matter? Why should they want to work with you? What can they expect from you as an employer?
- This is what they will be doing day to day
- Verbs should live in this section
- Technical ability
I love fishing, so we’re gonna use that as a metaphor.
Your job description is the bait, but different fish live in different places. It does not matter that your bait is the same. Here are a few common “ponds” and a quick synopsis of the species you can expect to encounter:
Socials + Google Form:
- Can be spammy, especially with a younger audience BUT
- You will find people who care and know about your content
- Requires a decent following or lots of manual searching to be effective
Traditional Sites (ie: LinkedIn, Indeed, etc)
- Massive pond(s)
- Able to target geo-locations for in-house roles
- Generally low-quality in terms of YouTube-specific knowledge
Dedicated YouTube Job Boards (ie: YTjobs.co)
- Biggest targeted pond out there
- Able to find and contact relevant talent quickly
- Unable to sort/target geo-location for in-house roles (currently)
This is by no means a “choose one” situation. Best to drop a line in every pond and see what bites 🎣
Candidate Selection (Gate 1)
Now the actual work begins.
You’re going to have an influx of resumes, cover letters, and portfolios to comb through. The goal with candidate selection is to weed out all of the obvious “no”s and find the potential gems.
⚠️ Warning: Maintain a high quality filter. It can be a beatdown in this phase. After seeing hundreds of 2s, the strong 5 suddenly looks like an 8.5. I’m here to tell you firsthand: it’s a trap. Stay strong.
Interviews (Gate 2)
Got your shortlist? Great. If they haven’t already had to answer a questionnaire, send it to them now. This is the next step is further culling the herd. I break this into 4 separate segments:
Introductory (axe murderer test)
- Who are they?
- What are they like?
Fun off the wall questions
- A client of mine asked candidates to send their favorite memes. The two people who were hired had the memes he liked the most. Maybe something there? 🤷
- Past experiences
- Challenges, results, etc.
- Questions about the job itself
- What do they want to do with their lives?
Crucial to understand how they’ll fit with you long term and in how to retain them
- Editor → Gets exposed to strategy → runs strategy for 50M+ subscriber YT creator → consultant to top creators and companies (that’s me 🙋♂️)
- Move to a test (edit, thumbnails, creative, etc.)
- Or move to trial period
This gate can also be swapped with Testing (if applicable). This will help you only interview - and spend time on - candidates that you know are capable of doing the job.
Testing (Gate 3)
I’ve seen too many creators fumble the bag on great candidates here. Testing is straightforward, but there are some crucial best practices to keep in mind:
Have a pre-determined skill test
- Easily set up a google drive folder that can be shared to save yourself time
- Don’t send a 3 hour raw recording as a test; that’s ridiculous.
- On the other hand, don’t give them a softball video. It should require some critical thinking to get it where it needs to be.
Test for what you want to see
- Gaming vs IRL editors
- Thumbnail concepts vs just photoshop skill
Tight but flexible deadline
- This helps set realistic expectations and a taste of what’s to come for them
- I’ve gotten some nasty emails in this phase (or just ghosted) either way, saves me time to get to the people who actually want to be there.
Some intentional vagueness
- See how they communicate
- Do they ask questions? Do they try to brute force it? Do they update you if timelines need to shift?
Goal: 80-90% of your quality, can train the rest
- Don’t expect perfection out of the gate.
Found your 1-2 potential fits? Great!
Let’s make sure this time is beneficial for both you AND them.
Consider this a full-scale run. They should be plugged into all necessary systems to give both parties a realistic look at what working together could turn into.
HAVE A PLAN
Set a duration for the trial (30 days is fairly common)
Remember when we talked about knowing what we wanted? It’s coming full circle here. If you’re doing a trial month, you should have a 4-week plan for what you’re expecting each week.
Example for an editor:
- End of Week 1: Plugged into all systems and meeting deadlines
- End of Week 2: Editing rough cuts up to par
- End of Week 3… etc etc
Obviously these will all change based on your channel, niche, cadence but having clearly defined goalposts will allow them to know exactly what’s expected.
Bonus: you will also have a firm way of tracking the trial period so you can make an informed decision on whether or not to move forward.
Final thought: I had the opportunity to chat with Ezra Cooperstein (President @ Night) and ask for his advice on hiring. What he said has stuck with me through all of these years:
If a person isn’t the right fit, it’s better to grieve quickly and move on. Does it hurt that you spent all those hours finding, vetting, and training them? Absolutely. Wanna know what hurts worse?
Keeping a subpar employee because you don’t want to admit that it’s not working out and/or you’re too lazy to go through the hiring process again. Trust me when I say you’ll both be better off parting ways. (more on this in the Dark Side section)
But for now, you have a new employee!
Woohoo! Now What?
Only two real options here:
→ Contract extension (if remaining contractor)
→ Employment Agreement (if becoming employee)
Again: please consult legal/HR pros to get this done correctly for your region. This is beyond my pay grade ;)
Beyond that, it’s all about continued training, intentional feedback, and feeding the beast you’ve created.
Congrats on your new hire 🤝
The Dark Side
Part of hiring people is having to let some go. There are as many ways of dealing with this as there are people, but I’ll give you my $0.02 for free.
Also if you’ve missed the first 37 disclaimers, I’ll say it again: please consult legal/HR professionals to make sure you’re in the clear. Things can get messy quickly here.
New managers (creators) often feel awkward when it’s time to give tough love/feedback. The best way to relieve this is by setting an expectation of open communication from the start. Get comfortable with giving feedback so that when something more serious comes along, you and your employee(s) already have that relationship built up.
Note: This doesn’t mean you get to be a prick every day. Remember that open communication also involves praise.
Warnings + Strikes
This is a pretty basic system, but it gets the point across. If performance is lacking and you’ve already had casual conversations around it, then comes the time for a bit more formality.
→ Warnings: Can be verbal or written; either way you should document what was said and the action steps needed to improve. Nothing too major here, but the formality should let your employee know that this is a bit different from the typical feedback session.
→ Strikes: Written, detailed, typically include an action/improvement plan. Should have other party sign this as well. These are beefed up warnings that will be on file. How many strikers you’re willing to give is totally up to you.
The biggest piece in this phase is documenting conversations and actions/expectations for what’s to follow.
If you’re in the unfortunate position of firing someone, plan ahead for it.
→ Do you need to start a fresh job search before letting that person go?
→ How will the employee’s job duties be handled once they’re gone?
→ How will their absence affect the rest of the team?
Letting someone go will almost always be a drag, but don’t add insult to injury by having to play catch-up, too.
This is not fun for anyone.
If you’ve gone through all of the other steps, the other person likely knows why they’ve been called into a meeting with you. Keep things simple, cordial, and to the point.
There’s no need to drag this out. Feel free to give them an “exit interview” to air any additional feedback or concerns, but don’t force it. If there’s ever been a time to be human, it’s here.
This is by no means an exhaustive or perfect list, but I genuinely hope you have found value here! I’ll be sharing this on my socials in the coming weeks to have others with way more experience in this area add their thoughts as well, so keep an eye out 👀
What You Need to Do
I think there are plenty of action items in this article, but if you feel like being an overachiever:
- Please leave a rating below! They are hugely helpful.
All the best,