Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How to Make Smart Hiring Decisions for your Small Business

Facing a competitive and crowded labor market is a common challenge for small businesses. Rather than “the talent” competing for your job openings, it’s other businesses competing for the same talent.  Add into the mix -- that as a small business owner -- a new hire essentially means adding a new family member. The employee becomes part of your presumably small inner circle. So as an entrepreneur, how do you acquire top talent -- against stiff competition -- who will also fit into your existing tribe? 9 ways to step-up your recruitment strategy:

REACH OUT. Consider looking outside your business’ immediate area to grow your team. If the locals don’t seem to fit the bill, or don’t answer your call for openings, stretch your reach to neighboring communities. The right candidate won’t mind making the move geographically and/or commuting a little further for the right workplace scenario.

SEEK OUT THE SEEKERS. Try looking on job search sites in the job ‘wanted’ section. This might include Craigslist and even the relevant newspapers. Candidates who are proactively and eagerly looking for work are likely ones you can count on to perform. Looking for new grads to fill empty shoes? Ensure your opportunities can be easily located and applied to via mobile apps and social media networking sites like LinkedIn and Indeed. Millenial job seekers are not just doing their job searching online. According to Accenture Strategy’s 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study, 64% of 2015 graduates have used a mobile app to search for a new gig.  

TRY FLEXING. Still not finding the right full-timers or the local labor pool seems particularly barren? Consider hiring a freelancer. Freelancers are often excited about helping a growing business. They can learn something new and contribute in the early stages of building your brand. Most come armed with a variety of experiences and a diverse portfolio. Plus, freelancers can contribute to your business on an as-needed basis.

START SPREADING THE NEWS. Referrals from successful employees -- who are already happy working for and with you -- or investors in your business can provide qualified leads. A passive job seeker who is connected to you via a respected colleague might just be a star candidate. Consider this, they are experienced and dedicated to their craft and are recommended by someone you trust. Oh -- and they aren’t job searching, so the only competition you’ll have is their current place of employment.

HIRE FROM INSIDE THE LINES. 72% of 2015 college graduates participated in an internship program during their collegiate career (up from 65% in the prior year). An intern will have the opportunity to learn your business from the inside out and potentially get involved with a number of departments/projects/colleagues during their tenure. It’s a plausible solution to finding talent that fits. You have the advantage of determining if they will work well with your existing employees, while at the same time learning the business.  

BE MEMORABLE. There is both risk and reward in working for a small business. Do your potential hires know the reward, if they’re expected to set the DVR and burn the midnight oil? Promote your culture -- for example, what is unique about your business? Show candidates what they can expect via a tour of your space on their interview visit. It might even be worthwhile to have them shadow someone besides the hiring manager (namely you) before a decision is made. If an applicant rejects an offer, as for feedback about your culture. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. Ask your current crew what’s missing and you not only win brownie points for including them in the process but you’ll be poised to attract other people looking for the same benefits. Success for your growing business starts “at home” and if your employees aren’t “feeling” the culture you’re creating, they won’t be a long lasting investment.

GIVE A LITTLE. Be willing to offer more to your employees. The “more” doesn’t necessarily have to come in the form of dollar signs. Many new hires are satisfied with a well-rounded package of salary and benefits. Sixty percent of the class of 2015 said they would prefer to work at a company with a positive social atmosphere and earn a lower salary than make more money someplace where it's less fun to work. Flexibility also goes a long way and can gel nicely with the vibe of a young business. Think about allowing some role players the option of working remotely as a perk.

SCHOOL THEM. Skills can be taught but personality is a plus and drive is a must. During a search, consider potential employees who are ready to embrace the adversity that often crops up with a small business. Also, ask yourself if you'd enjoy lunch with the new worker bee because if personalities don't click, how will you connect on projects? Having skilled employees who match both your vision and your enthusiasm is inevitably important. If someone is in a constant state of discomfort, it will show in team meetings and in front of a client. A willingness to train the right person will prove fruitful in the long run.

TALK IT OUT. When you hold an interview, ask what a candidate does outside of the workplace? An employee’s hobby could prove to be a hidden gem skill set for your business. And this same line of questions, could also help you determine his/her potential fit in your workplace. Do they like to play softball and your business has a team or maybe he or she is active with local charities and your business encourages philanthropy. In a similar vein, how do they envision the future? While working at your small business may not be their life-long dream (although, bonus if so!) having this conversation can unveil how motivated the individual is to grow as a professional. Ambitious leaders-to-be will see working for you as a valuable experience and this exchange could reveal ideas worthy of being implemented by your brand when the new hire hits the ground running.

Does your small business have proven recruitment strategies? Share them in the comments!

BBB’s News and Opinion Blog serves as your source for business topics and industry news like tips for customer retention and how to use social media engagement to grow your business. For more information you can trust, visit us at, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.

Written by Stephanie Benz, Senior Social Media Associate for Better Business Bureau Serving E. Massachusetts, ME, RI & VT.

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