As the founder of a small business, the prospect of recruiting your first employees is both thrilling and anxiety-inducing. Your small business is your baby and your livelihood so you can’t afford to make hiring mistakes that affect your success and productivity. These 9 hiring essentials will increase your chances of recruiting outstanding talent exponentially.
As a former CEO, senior manager and founder of my own business, I’ve been hiring staff for over 25 years. I’ve learnt that for every great candidate, there are significantly more average candidates and at least an equal number of responses from poor candidates. I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. But I’ve learnt that if I follow these hiring essentials and ‘hire slow’, my recruitment decisions are infinitely better.
First it’s important to understand the key reasons why our recruitment efforts might fall short. In my experience, there are several universal ‘truths’ we have a tendency to overlook:
- Some of the best candidates have average interview skills, and some of the worst potential hires are blessed with the gift of the gab and are great in interviews.
- It’s human nature to make instant judgements and then look for the evidence to back up our instincts. That’s why we have to ensure that we are not simply hiring someone because we ‘like’ them. Although this is, of course, important.
- We can underestimate the role of external circumstance in someone’s career. You might wonder why there is a gap in somebody’s employment history for example. Unless you ask searching questions, candidates may be unwilling to reveal the real story. It’s human nature to want to present ourselves in the best light, and for some people, this involves telling a few white lies about the less than ideal periods in their lives. Taking a senior candidate out of the formal interview situation (maybe to lunch) often allows them to be honest with you.
So when you’re writing job descriptions, conducting interviews, and recruiting your new employees, consider these 9 hiring essentials.
1. Make Sure You Comply With Employment Legislation
Every country has its own employment and anti-discrimination legislation covering the recruitment of new staff. The Small Business Administration in the US, X in Canada and ACAS in the UK are excellent starting places.
2. Write a Realistic Job Description
Your first task is to write a job description that describes the true nature of the job. A job description comprises of two parts:
The person specification which describes the qualifications and skills the successful applicant must have. You use the person specification to evaluate the skills and qualifications of the applicant against a set of ‘essential’ and ‘desirable’ attributes. Based on this information, you draw up your shortlist.
The job description which describes the key functions of the role. The candidate will use this to evaluate whether this is the type of post they’re suited to. You use the job description to work out how you’re going to test whether the people you’ve shortlisted for interview have the attributes needed to perform the job.
3. Decide On Your Remuneration Package
How do you want to remunerate your employees? Answering this question goes to the heart of your company culture and values, and sets the framework for the type of employer you want to be.
My policy is to pay top of the market because I want to attract outstanding employees. This is because:
- In my experience, one outstanding employee gets more done than two average employees.
- It is easier to retain your best staff if they are well remunerated. This saves recruitment costs further down the line.
- Recruiting, inducting and training new employees is a substantial investment of company time. Once I’ve ‘got the right people on the bus,’ I want to keep them.
- Financially, it is harder to introduce a ‘top of the market’ policy further down the line.
Also bear in mind that in today’s world, employees value freedom and flexibility as much as they do a salary. With larger companies now offering unlimited vacation, work from home days, remote working, and more, it’s forced many small businesses to adjust the way they approach their employee benefits.
You don’t have to offer any of the above, but in my experience, this definitely helps attract top talent. So, figure out what types of flexibility you can offer your applicants and highlight this on your job posting and during your interview process.
4. Display Your Company Culture
Employee flexibility may be a part of your company culture, but it isn’t the only component. The culture of your small business is the sum of your values, brand personality, goals, working environment, employee benefits, and the interpersonal relationships between the team. Make sure that you make your culture clear at all stages of the recruitment process. Cultural fit is important when it comes to deciding which applicant is most suitable for the post.
Check out this example of excellence on Michael Hyatt’s website.
5. Showcase Your Brand Personality
To help you to attract people who are a good cultural fit for your company, craft a job description that showcases what’s unique and exciting about your company. Whether you explain how you’re disrupting an industry or share examples of recent media coverage, the advert, the job description and any accompanying communications are an opportunity to stand out to potential applicants who are scrolling through endless job options.
6. Design A Robust Selection Process
Most people rely on interviews when it comes to selecting new employees. The interview process alone is a blunt instrument. It doesn’t test whether the applicant is proficient in the key skills set out in the job description. And it allows ‘likeability’ to influence the decision making process.
When it comes to hiring, my best decisions have always come after testing the applicants to check whether they are proficient in the key areas of the job. Depending on the job, I design one or more tests for the applicants to take in the presence of either me or one of my team e.g. ask:
- A copyrighter to produce a piece of written content;
- A florist to make a bouquet of flowers;
- An Executive Assistant to complete an in-tray exercise.
7. Use the Correct Hiring Platforms
If you don’t distribute and disseminate your job opportunity to the right platforms, you risk missing out on the best candidates. This is made complicated by the vast array of recruitment platforms.
Start by ranking the best platforms in order of importance. LinkedIn has the best user interface, for example. But Monster and Indeed have a vast pool of active applicants. Upwork is a great platform if you’re looking for part-time or freelance work. If you can’t decide which platform is right for you, use a service like ZipRecruiter which posts your job to multiple sites at the click of a button.
8. Reach Out to Your Network
The best hires generally come from personal referrals. So, in addition to posting your job description to leading hiring platforms, make sure you reach out to your network. Discuss with them your business needs and tell them what roles you’re looking to fill. The likelihood is that someone you know will know someone who’s a perfect fit for your open position. Plus they won’t want to make a poor recommendation.
9. Encourage Employee Referrals
In addition to your network, your team is another great resource for sourcing top applicants. Remember the maxim that ‘good people know other good people.’ Offer a referral bonus to your team. This could be financial, an extra day off, a nice lunch out. What’s important is you’re actively rewarding your team for bringing in high-calibre people and recognising this.
When it comes to building a high calibre team, these 9 hiring essentials will set you on your way. In a future article, I’ll explore the actual interview process in more detail. In the meanwhile, I recommend you read this article What Makes A Good Employee?
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Question: What’s been your number one lesson when it comes to hiring staff? I love reading your feedback so please do take a moment to share how you’re going to use this in the comments box below.
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I’m Denyse Whillier, a Sussex and London based business coach and consultant. I work with responsible businesses to build profitable and successful brands of the future. To do so, I draw on Built To Succeed™, my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO.
I’d love to start a conversation about whether we’re a good fit to work together. Simply use this link to arrange an informal Skype coffee chat. There’s no hard sell. Just solid advice and a straightforward, honest assessment of whether 1:1 business coaching (or business consultancy) would be right for you.
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