In good times or bad, it is generally accepted that good employees are hard to find (and keep). Even against the backdrop of today’s 8.1 percent unemployment rate, small business owners complain that finding qualified talent with the right skills and solid work ethic is a considerable challenge. Given this ongoing problem for small businesses, it is reasonable to assume that recruiting and hiring talent should be a top priority for your company.
If your small business is having trouble finding dependable employees who fit in, work hard and deliver high quality work, the following tips might help point your efforts in the right direction.
Make it Appealing to Your Prospects
Always keep your potential recruit in mind when advertising for an open position. Small businesses must compete with larger enterprises for available talent. You probably won’t be able to match their benefit portfolio, so it helps to emphasize the unique advantages of working for a small business. While you need to list the job description, duties and requirements, it’s also important to think about what type of environment would attract your ideal employee.
Is yours an entrepreneurial environment with plenty of room for creativity? Do you allow a flexible schedule? Is it a fun and positive place to work with a family atmosphere? Do you have a casual dress code? Do employees have the chance to contribute to management decisions? Do you offer the latest computer technology? Will they get an office with a window instead of a drab cube? Despite the benefits, many workers grow tired of the typical corporate environment and may begin to feel stifled by the red tape and anonymity. If you offer them a chance to use their individual talents and creativity in a more relaxed culture or in an entrepreneurial environment, you stand a good chance of pulling them away from their corporate cubicle.
Be as Generous as Possible
While you might not be able to compete with big businesses on compensation and benefits, do the best you can. In the long run, it’s cheaper to pay a competitive rate and offer nice benefits than it is to deal with high employee turnover. You won’t attract great talent if you don’t pay them what they’re worth. Not only will a good salary, a generous vacation package, sick days and a strong match on 401k contributions help attract new employees, it will also help retain them and avoid the revolving door phenomenon.
Set Up a Booth
If you need multiple employees or if your business is steadily growing and you anticipate a need for regular hiring, consider job fairs. When a candidate walks up to your booth, you get an instant first impression and the chance to do a mini interview on the spot without having to sift through piles of resumes. In addition, job fair goers might be more highly motivated job seekers than those who don’t attend. Obviously, a job fair booth requires a fair amount of work and the personnel to do it, but it’s worth considering if you have the resources.
Look For the Intangibles
You want qualified employees, but a long list of bullet points that describe only their experience doesn’t tell the whole story. During the interview process, try to evaluate the candidate’s passion for their work and their personality, not just their ability to answer traditional or predictable interview questions. Beyond their skills and experience, which you already have in their resume and cover letter, try to find out whether they are a good match for your staff, your core values and your mission statement.
Contract to Hire
Some candidates, especially in a slow economy, will be willing to do a trial run. In some situations, it might make sense to hire a worker on a contract basis for a specified time. If it works out, you can convert them to a regular employee with benefits. If not, you save on overhead costs, headaches and paperwork.
Keep in mind that few, if any, candidates are going to be the perfect fit based solely on experience and skills. Before you start hiring, make sure you understand what makes your business work and precisely how the new employee should fit into your system. Then look for a candidate with a stable personality, strong worth ethic, creativity, good communication skills and intelligence. With those traits in place, a candidate with basic skills and experience will be in a position to excel and help move your small business forward.