Hiring employees is one of the most effective to grow a small business—a larger staff will enable you to serve more customers, serve all customers better, and potentially expand into new product lines and markets. But hiring can also be difficult, especially for small business owners who are just starting out and may not have experience finding, interviewing, and selecting candidates. Hiring also costs both time and money, neither of which small business owners have to spare.
To make the hiring process as smooth and painless as possible, follow the best practices below.
Write a clear and comprehensive job description
Whatever the size of your business, and whatever position you are hiring for, it’s important to write a thorough job description. This is not just a way to get higher quality applicants, but also a way for you to clarify in your mind what exactly you will want the new employee to do, which will help you conduct better interviews and make better decisions. A great job description includes the roles and responsibilities of the position, the knowledge and skills required, and the characteristics you are looking for in an employee.
Set a hiring schedule
Owners and employees of small businesses often have a lot on their plates and are juggling many roles. If this is the case, you might have difficulty finding the time to hire someone. Set a reasonable deadline for when you would like the new employee to start and then work backward to create a schedule, setting aside time for interviews and so on. You might not always be able to find the right person by the deadline, but at least having a schedule will keep you on task with your hiring activities.
Look for candidates in the right places
On average, job postings get more than 250 applicants. As a small business owner, there is no way you have the time to do justice to that many applications, especially since most of them will probably not be great matches for your company anyway.
Instead, target your recruiting efforts in the same way you target your marketing campaigns. Think about your own professional (and personal) networks—what connections do you have already that you can plumb for possible candidates? LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media are also great places to advertise open positions to your networks. What about local interest groups—are there any meet-ups for people with the skills you are looking for? Especially if you are hiring for a tech position, the answer is very likely “yes.”
Focus on company culture
Having employees that fit with your company values and culture is essential both for harmony and productivity at the workplace and for the image they will project to the outside world. Unless the position requires highly specialized knowledge or skills that can’t be learned (which isn’t likely—all skills can be learned through proper training), put top priority on finding someone who shares your values and meshes well with the current or the desired company culture.
Implement a trial period
A lot of time, money, and energy goes into hiring new employees, so you want to make sure that you are making the best decision from the start. Considering hiring promising applicants as contract workers for a short-term assignment first so you can assess them before you decide to bring them on for a permanent position. When proposing a trial period to a candidate, pitch it as a way for the candidate to evaluate your company before making a firm commitment.
Hiring for small businesses doesn’t need to be a frustrating process. Taking the time to clearly define your expectations and to find the perfect person for the job will reward you many times over in helping your company grow.