For any business the performance of its people is vital to its success, but without the dedicated Human Resource departments enjoyed by larger organisations, recruiting the right people for your small business can be challenging and time consuming. The impact of hiring the wrong person is also likely to be greater on a small business because their contribution (or lack of it) will become apparent more quickly when the workforce is relatively small.
So how do you go about recruiting the right people? What does a good recruitment process look like?
Unfortunately there is no “one-size fits all” approach to recruitment because, to a certain extent, the process needs to be tailored to the type and size of the business and to the recruitment budget available. However, the following steps will go a long way to helping you to maximise your chances of finding the right person for your business first time.
Ensure that your recruitment process is as thorough as your time and budget will allow
Finding the right person for a job requires a strong strategy. Follow the remaining steps as closely as you can to ensure a strategic recruitment process, giving you the best chance of finding that person who will prove to be the missing piece of your business’s jigsaw.
Develop a comprehensive job description
This will not be the most exciting of tasks but it is vital to ensure that the true needs of the business have been identified. The importance of fully determining what you want from the vacant role/new post being created cannot be stressed strongly enough, so aside from the job title, hours of work and a list of duties, include detail by asking yourself the following questions when developing the job description;-
- Where will this role sit within the existing team?
- Which core skills and attributes are essential for the role?
- Who would the role report to?
- What would their key responsibilities be?
- What would be the short, medium and long term objectives for the role?
- Are we offering scope for progression?
- Required education and training?
- What training can we offer?
- What personality traits would we be looking for?
- Location and travel requirements?
- Remuneration and benefits?
Also remember to consult with the other member of the team/departments that the new role/new employee may affect.
Be honest in your job adverts
The number of unsuitable candidates can be reduced by taking care with the wording of job adverts. If the job will involve a lot of unsociable hours or a lot of outbound, telemarketing type calls then say so. There will be people out there who are looking for exactly what you are offering, there is no point in portraying a job to be something that it isn’t or playing down the less desirable bits, this will only result in someone turning down any offer of employment once they understand what it really involves or worse still, accepting the job only to stay with you for a short period of time.
Where to advertise your vacancy
When deciding where to advertise your vacancy, consider the nature of the job that you are recruiting for and the type of qualifications required. If the job requires a vocational degree, for example, then consider advertising at a University that runs a relevant course or consider the advertising opportunities on websites dedicated to the vocation.
Businesses that have a social media following could consider advertising vacancies on social media sites as their following will often include incredibly relevant candidates.
Local newspapers, job centres, on-line job sites and recruitment agencies are the other options for getting your vacancy seen by prospective candidates. See step 8 for more information on using recruitment agencies.
Ensure that your interviewing skills are up to scratch
Strong interview skills are imperative. Depending on your background, you may or may not be experienced in interviewing people but it is one of those tasks where experience doesn’t always mean competence. Interviewing is about really focusing on getting to know your candidate in order to verify the thoughts that you’ve had about each individual thus far in the process. To achieve this, good listening and interpersonal skills are as important as asking the right questions. It is vital that you engage the candidate early in the interview to prevent nerves from getting the better of them. Perhaps pick up on points from their CV about hobbies and interests first as people are much more at ease talking about themselves in this context than they are talking about their ability to do a job in an interview setting! Nerves can cause even exceptional candidates to be misjudged resulting in a lost opportunities all round.
There are plenty of courses and books available to help you to learn/improve your interviewing skills but if you are not totally confident with your own skills in this area, consider involving another member of your team whose opinions you value and who you feel may be a good judge of character. This can be a good idea even if you are confident in your own ability because another member of the team may be able to offer a different perspective. Encourage your fellow interviewer to ask questions and then consult with them afterwards, ensuring that you really listen to their thoughts. Ultimately, as the business owner, who you employ is your decision but try to set aside your own thoughts whilst you listen to those of your colleague, remembering the reasons for bringing them into the process in the first place.
Meet your shortlist of candidates more than once before making an offer of employment
It may take several meetings before you can be sure that someone is right for your company. People tend to let their guard down a bit more with each meeting, allowing you a greater insight into their personality and ultimately their ability to “fit” within your business.
Consider setting candidates some sort of test
A creative writing test with a specific brief and timeframe can be very effective. All candidates will be able to write but the quality of what is written under time pressure and in response to a specific brief will vary dramatically.
Asking your shortlisted candidates to do a presentation, again with a specific brief and timeframes is another possibility but with presentations, bear in mind the nature of the job that you are recruiting for. If the job is desk based with no call for presentation skills or meeting face to face with clients then the best person for the job may be missed by recruiting the candidate who delivers the best presentation.
Either way, creative writing or presentation, this exercise will help to identify candidates who are adaptable and able to work under pressure; key attributes for employees of most expanding small businesses.
Consider using a recruitment company
There are certainly benefits to using a recruitment company. If you are incredibly busy and do not feel that you will have the time to do justice to the early part of the recruitment process (sifting through application forms and CVs etc.) then consider using a recruitment agency. As well as being very experienced in the art of spotting a good candidate from an application form or CV, they may well also have a bank of pre-vetted, interview-ready candidates suitable for the job description that you have supplied. Using a recruitment agency certainly takes the hassle out of the early part of the process for you, but it comes at a cost and many young businesses do not have the funds to support such luxuries. In addition, a small business usually means a small team and therefore the owners of such businesses sometimes prefer maximum involvement in the recruitment process. The reason for this is the critical nature of finding a “good fit” personality for the culture and ethos of the business and existing members of his or her team.
Remember that yours may not be the only job that a candidate has applied for
It is very easy as an employer to forget that you are also being judged during the interview process. Your candidates are more than likely going through several recruitment processes at the same time. Therefore remember to sell yourself and your business to them, and if you do feel a draw towards one particular candidate following an interview, don’t procrastinate because you feel that that is what you are supposed to do. If your gut feeling tells you that without doubt someone is right for your business then offer them the job as soon as you can. Don’t risk losing the right talent and personality to the business owner who is bold enough to make an offer of employment on instinct!
The offer of employment
At whatever point you make the offer of employment, use it as another opportunity to reinforce the culture and goals of the business. The letter should take the form of a two way contract stating that the job is being offered with x salary and benefits and listing the expectations that you expect the individual to meet in return.
By doing this, your relationship begins with complete transparency and should the new employee prove to be unsuitable some way down the line, then you have covered yourself by making your expectations clear from the outset.
On-going job support is like aftersales service – Don’t forget it!
Time and effort spent on a really effective recruitment process could all be wasted if your new recruit doesn’t receive sufficient support and feedback in their new role. Have regular performance reviews with new recruits in an honest and matter of fact way and be prepared to be supportive if any adjustments or additional training are deemed necessary by either party as a result of those reviews.
Always bear in mind that the top performers and most loyal employees tend to be those who are happy in their work because they feel valued and supported.
FINAL TIP – Constantly bear in mind that recruitment is a two-way process. Keep asking yourself about the experience the candidates are having as they go through your business’s recruitment process. If they have applied for more than one job, the best people will more than likely have a choice to make at the end of it all, make sure it’s your business they choose!
We hope that this article has been interesting and informative. If you have any questions or would like to discuss how to find the best staff for your business with a Free consultation, please contact Sam on 0800 954 2099 or complete our online form.