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Small Business Hiring Best Practices

Many small business owners and executives will attest to the fact that hiring poor performing employees has a much greater impact within a small business than it does on a larger organization with a greater number of employees. For instance, if a small business has ten employees and one of them is underperforming, that’s 10% of the businesses workforce that is not up to the task. The one employee that is underperforming is not only affecting the businesses bottom line, but also may be dragging other employees down with them. While larger organizations may experience this same situation, they have the numbers on their side when it comes to the number of good employees compared to those who are underperforming. To mitigate hiring employees who will ultimately underperform, small businesses are taking a deep dive into their hiring practices and assessing what recruiting methods produce the best applicants who eventually result in the best employees.

Small businesses should first have their hiring “elevator pitch” ready for all potential applicants. Some may ask the question, “I thought that an elevator pitch was only for an applicant to pitch themselves and their talents to an organization?” This is not necessarily true. Just as applicants have to pitch themselves to an organization, the business leaders and executives must also pitch the organization to the applicants. The elevator pitch typically includes the organization’s mission and vision statements, as well as their core values and may go even further to include what their employee’s passions are for working at the organization. This may require business owners and executives to talk with their employees and ask them what they like about the organization, their job, and their coworkers. For a more personal touch, business owners and executives may even want to allow an applicant the opportunity to reach out to current employees and let them explain what their experiences have been. It’s important that potential applicants understand that the organization’s employees have some sort of driving factor in their work. Along with sharing this information, employers should also make applicants aware of what type of impact the organization has from both a national, state and local level, if appropriate. Informing applicants about what impact the business has ensures that they understand the mission and vision of the organization as well as the organizations impact on the community, its people, and other businesses. Once an elevator pitch is in place, deciding on a mixture of resources to source for applicants is the next step.

Typically, small businesses prefer a mixture of different resources that they utilize to source for applicants. The most popular resource utilized by small businesses includes referrals from employees, former employees, advisors, and even friends and family. In the small business world, it seems that this type of word-of-mouth recruiting ends up producing the best applicants from the best referral sources, those who know the employer’s business and culture the best. Referrals work great, however, unlike some resources, they may require quite a bit of legwork, such as continually staying in front of and reaching out to referral sources to ask for potential applicants. There seems to be no real replacement for a personal referral network, so business owners and executives should ensure that they are staying in-touch with their networks.

The second most popular resource many small businesses use heavily to source for applicants is the Internet. The Internet has grown to become one of the most popular methods used for recruiting, next to word-of-mouth recruiting. Job board sites such as LinkedIn, Monster, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed, have made reaching a massive audience of potential talent a breeze without spending hours upon hours of time searching for good applicants. These job board platforms get the word out about the job, however may become extremely time consuming when it comes to reviewing applications due to a high influx of submissions. In addition, social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter may also be great tools to reach a specific audience when sourcing for applicants. One thing that is imperative when using the Internet is to have a thoroughly constructed job posting. Job postings are essentially a shortened version of the job description and should accurately represent the essential duties and responsibilities and requirements of the job. The job posting actually becomes the advertisement on the job board platform or social media site. Along with Internet job boards and social media networks, it is also beneficial to place the job posting on the organization’s website to attract any potential applicants who may be specifically researching open positions within the organization.

Other popular resources that small businesses utilize to recruit top talent are college, trade school, or graduate school career centers and career expos. If the small business specializes in a particular trade, there may be a possibility of utilizing an industry trade group in the area to post the job and reach potential applicants. Researching various trade organizations on the Internet is always helpful.

Other resources for sourcing for applicants include recruiters, temporary agencies, and print advertising. Recruiters are a great resource and allow executives to continue to do what they do best, their job. As many small business owners and executives know, they tend to wear many “hats” from day-to-day and recruiting is not necessarily something that should be added into the mix due to the amount of time that it requires. If the business finds a great recruiter or temporary agency that knows the business well, the caliber of the applicants will likely increase dramatically. Print advertisements tend to be most popular with retail and wholesale businesses.

Based on all of these traditional and modern recruiting techniques, small businesses tend to have the most success in sourcing for great applicants by using a mixture of these resources. Small business owners and executives must be sure to rely on a few of these resources in order to reach their target audience rather than just one resource that may not reach their target audience at all. If they do not diversify in their recruiting techniques, odds are they may fall quickly behind their competitors, as they are likely missing out on top talent.

Once the applicant pipeline is full, the business owner or executive will want to assess those applicants by administering job match assessments prior to interviewing the candidates in order to “weed out” those who may not be a good fit for the job or the organization. There are a good majority of small business owners and executives out there who are unsure of whether a candidate will succeed in a role with their organization after the first interview. Imagine how much time is wasted during interviews when employers feel confident that the candidates that they are interviewing is not going to be a good fit for the organization. This is why assessments and other job-related tools are so important in the recruiting process, if used before conducting an interview. They will not only save time and money, but will ultimately lead to better hires which will ultimately result in better employees.

Last, but not least the business owner or the executive must interview their top candidates. While this may seem like a tedious task, if done correctly with the appropriate job match assessments and other job-related tools, it can be a painless process. Business owners or executives should come prepared to the interview with an array of questions that are geared towards behaviors and competencies that are appropriate for the job. In addition, data collected from the candidate’s assessments will either provide questions for the interviewer, or lead them in the right direction of what questions to ask. The questions should consist of a mixture of behavioral and situation-based questions to ensure that the candidate will be a good fit for the job and the organization. Beginning each question with who, what, when, where, why or how will always force the candidate to respond with anything but a yes or no answer.  Interviewers should also make sure that they are participating in the interview as an active listener.  They should make sure they are not listening for what they want to hear, but rather listening for things that they may be able to use to determine whether the candidate will be a good fit for the job. Taking notes during an interview also allows the interviewer to accurately remember what was said versus trying to rely upon memory.

Incorporating these best practices into a small business hiring process will not only help cut down on hiring time and money spent on each new hire, but will ultimately result in hiring the best candidate for the job the first time.

For additional information on hiring best practices, please contact us at www.NewFocusHR.com.

Written by: Patrick McKenna, SHRM-CP

HR Consultant





New Focus HR is a human resources consulting and training company that services all organizations. Our expert team collaborates with businesses to attract, motivate, retrain and retain their biggest assets, employees. While engaged with an organization, our focus is to find solutions that improve the company’s internal HR-related practices while increasing results at the same time! Our focus. Your results.