How to recruit talent into a small business

06 / 02 / 19

Refine your interview process

Recruitment is an extremely important process for any business, but recruiting into a small business is potentially higher risk. Why? Well, you could argue that larger businesses may have the ability to cope with staffing hiccups, while these difficulties may have a greater negative impact on SME’s.

A business is only as strong as its people and that’s especially the case with smaller organisations that rely on a modest team of employees. In fact, 56% of small businesses find it somewhat difficult to find the right employee for their business. Limited resources mean you need a closely formed, adaptable team to help drive business growth. And so, the following blog gives our top tips on how to recruit talent into your small or medium-sized business…

Develop a great company culture

If you follow our blogs, you will have seen two of our latest posts on why company culture is important and how to create a fantastic working environment. Company culture is the backbone of any business and those organisations lacking a positive culture, whatever their size, will find that employees struggle to find a value in their work, resulting in a de-motivated and unproductive workforce. And of course, this will ultimately have a negative effect on their bottom line.

Your culture is your business’ personality and every company has one, regardless of whether or not you’re putting the effort into creating a positive one. Creating the best possible culture has a huge impact on being able to attract potential employees. Why? Because it gives you a significant competitive advantage and you can sing about it within your advertising and interview process.

Clearly define the role

So, you have decided there’s a business need for an additional person within your team. It’s now time to write the job description and person specification. Before putting pen to paper, make sure you speak with your existing team, especially those employees who will be working closely with the ‘new addition’. If you’re a small or medium-sized company, it’s likely you have a close relationship with your team and speak with them on a daily-basis, with a clear understanding of their job roles, their career aspirations, motivations and frustrations; that’s the beauty of a smaller-scale business. In large corporates this type of communication is less common and often replaced by technology and several different levels of manager.

When you have a clear picture of how this person needs to fit within your existing team, it’s time to define this clearly and concisely. When writing your job description, ensure you write each element in order of priority. And make sure every aspect of the job is covered, so applicants have the full picture. What will they be doing on a daily basis and what skills, competencies and level of competency do they require to successfully fulfil this role? If your company has a competency framework then this will be easier. In addition, what type of person do you want to join the team, this could include attributes such as their attitude to work and their ability to communicate with their fellow teammates, for example. If the company already uses Psychometric assessments to profile your team, it will be easy to profile candidates to see if they will be a good fit.

Remember, this piece is essentially the job advert you will ultimately use to attract potential candidates. Include some blurb on your company as well and take this opportunity to promote your company culture. People will be enticed by companies that have a great company culture and they will glean this information from your advert. Even the way you write your ad will have an effect on how the reader interprets your business. If you have a vibrant, fun culture, make sure your copy reflects this. Be sure also to promote any training and development opportunities to your target audience.

Specifically target potential candidates

If you’re advertising your role online on a jobsite, remember you have a very small window to impress and attract a candidate. You may have written a killer job advert, but a great ad in the wrong place is going to be pretty ineffective. Where are your target candidates looking? Do your research. Are they looking online or are they registered with a specialist recruitment agency?

Of course not all potential candidates are actively searching for new jobs, so how can you reach them? If you’re using a recruitment agency, be sure to brief them properly as they will be selling your business for you. It may be that you need to employ the support of a specialist head-hunter to go searching for those candidates who don’t yet know they want to work for your company.

On the other hand you may need to keep costs down, so before enlisting the help of recruitment agency or headhunter, you might utilise an online candidate search service. They will take your brief and provide you with eight or so quality candidate CV's for you to contact and establish interest in the role directly. They may even offer you a candidate contact service and do this for you.

Refine your interview process

Someone may look great on paper, but are they as good as they say they are, in person? You will have a pile of CV’s to sift through and you can match their skills to those identified in your job description and person specification. Then if you want to qualify your shortlisted candidates for interview this can be done with online pre-employment tests, which can include some bespoke competency based questions.

Now it’s time to see how they perform in front of you and this is where you’ll gather the most information. What does your interview process look like? How many stages are there, who leads these stages and do interviewees need to meet employees from the wider team? After all, these are the people they need to click with as they will be working with them on a daily basis and as mentioned previously, in a close-knit, small team, good working relationships are key.

You may want them to present to you or complete a work-related task, or even spend a few hours with the team they will be working with. Make sure you are fully prepared for interview. Write your questions down beforehand and make sure you have a process. Make sure you include questions to test competency levels for the key competencies required for the role. And value based questions to understand how well-aligned the candidate is to the organisational values.

Although you are interviewing to fill a role, candidates are generally switched-on and need to also like you, the team and the business to ultimately accept the role and work for your company. So, in a sense, it’s a two-way process – you need to woo them!

If you nail all of the points above, you’ll be far more effective at hiring the best calibre of candidate to fit perfectly within your business. If you’d like help and support with your recruitment drive, please don’t hesitate to contact me: on 01453 297557 or email enquiries@peepshr.co.uk.


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