The Challenges of Recruiting ‘Outsiders’ For Your Family Business

A family-owned business has unique qualities that you usually won’t find in a typical company. For example, most or all members of the family share the same vision of growth and success in the company. They are driven to work long hours, and their customers may trust them more easily. This usually creates a sense of unity with the community in general.

However, with a growing family business comes the need to hire ‘outsiders’ to fill specific positions in the company. If you are preparing to recruit outsiders to join your family business, you need to be aware of these potential challenges.

Cultural Fit

There is a strong chance that your business has a unique work culture related to your family’s core values and dynamic. It can affect how your business relates to customers or colleagues, and also serve as a selling point that your business relies on to differentiate itself in the marketplace.

However, when hiring a new employee, it can be challenging to find an ideal candidate who can fit into the culture of your family business.

When outsiders join your company, they are immersed in a culture that may be rather different from any other job environment they have worked in in the past. Therefore, when you are preparing to hire an outsider, pay close attention to the individual’s personality and behavior.

Ensure that there is no direct conflict with your business’ culture. In addition, analyze your own family nuances and be aware of how these could impact who the ideal candidate is.

Lack of Trust

When family members run a business, they trust each other with company’s secrets and information about finances and operational procedures. They will generally only permit other family members to hold higher-level or executive-level positions in the company in an effort to protect this information.

While this may seem like an effective strategy, it can impede the company’s growth over the years. Moreover, it can deter highly qualified candidates from applying for a position in the first place.

It is important for family-run businesses to create a set of written policies and procedures that all are expected to follow. All employees should have access to data and responsibilities relevant to them, and they also need to feel confident that they can advance within the company.

When hiring outsiders, adopt a no-discrimination policy. This policy should include a rule to review all employees fairly for advancement within the company. While new employees may have to make adjustments to work within the structure of a family-owned business, family members may also need to adapt to having an outsider work with them.

Before hiring an applicant, determine any areas that you and your family members may need to adjust so that you can attract and retain top talent.


Before hiring a family member to fill an opening, consider the benefit associated with opening up the opportunity to outside candidates. While it may be difficult not to give some preferential treatment to a family member, there are times when outsiders are substantially more skilled and experienced for the job.

You must honestly assess the company’s business processes so that you can determine which candidate can more effectively contribute to the company in a positive and beneficial way. In addition, you should avoid defining the scope of a job position based on the skills or abilities of a family member.

Be honest about your company’s specific needs, and create a job description independent of the skills or experiences of those in your company.

Before resumes and applications begin rolling in, develop a list of criteria that the potential candidate must meet. This includes both qualifications and experience. In addition, include specific questions to ask candidates in an interview and how you intend to grade the answers.

Final Thoughts

Regardless of how large your family is there will eventually come a time when your family-owned business will benefit from hiring outsiders to join your ranks. You understandably want to find the most skilled and qualified individual for the job. Remember these potential challenges when hiring an outsider, and be aware of the steps that you can take to overcome these specific challenges.

Heather Redding
Heather Redding
HEATHER is a tech enthusiast and freelance writer based in Aurora, Illinois. When she isn’t working, Heather loves to read and swim. She is also a coffee snob with a passion for photography. You can reach Heather via her social media links below.

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