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What small businesses should know about recruiting

Here’s how to find and attract the best employees for your small business

Illustrations courtesy of iStock

Success for businesses of all sizes hinges upon having happy customers. The majority (84 percent) of companies that improve their customer experience report an increase in revenue, according to Dimension Data’s 2017 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report. The best way to improve customer experience? Hire the right people to do the right job. 

The employees hired to work for a business are representatives of the brand. They help tell the company story and build the culture other people want to be hired into. When it comes to recruiting, here are some tips on how small businesses can get this vital practice right.

Why businesses recruit employees 

Most entrepreneurs consider themselves jacks-of-all-trades. But in the small business world, there comes a time when the few employees can’t handle all the responsibilities necessary to keep the business moving at full speed. For example, you may have experience in marketing, but not know much about paid social media advertising. Hiring a social media specialist with experience in paid advertising can help you reach your social media goals. 

Hiring is an opportunity to bring in a specialized expert to teach you new skills and enhance existing skill sets. Another benefit to hiring employees is that it can offer business owners the opportunity to unplug, go out of office, rest and reset—which can lead to increased productivity in the long run. 

Best hiring practices for small businesses 

To kick off the process, employers would create a job description, perform a job analysis to determine pay and responsibilities, post the job, sort through résumés, and administer skills assessments before deciding to extend an offer. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen this process shift to incorporate mostly digital elements. These include strategic recruiting, scouting passive candidates (those not actively looking for work), or enabling the use of an online job board that uses keywords to help filter results. 

Trying your hand at recruiting, rather than tapping into an expert outside organization? Here are five tips to get it right. 

Use referrals and networking

Networking is a great way to promote your brand and share vacancies without greatly impacting the budget. Referrals are often the best source for candidates, because the person referring—generally a contact—typically considers the referral a reflection of themselves. One of the best ways to request referrals from current employees is to establish a referral program, which provides a reward to the employee if an applicant they referred is hired. 

Use job boards

Many professionals are familiar with online job boards like Glassdoor, Indeed, or LinkedIn, but it might be difficult for your small business to compete in such broad job boards. Instead, try a niche job board like Snagajob, FlexJobs, or college job boards. Candidates are targeted based on interest and/or experience, providing employers more customization and the ability to stand out among fewer listings.

Offer other benefits

Small business owners may have to compete for talent with larger companies that have more resources. To attract employees, try offering alternative benefits. For example, if you’re unable to offer competitive compensation or benefits, try offering other things like flexible scheduling.

Invest in recruiting technology

Small business owners may consider investing in applicant tracking software to help them scale and streamline recruiting and hiring. Human resource information systems (HRIS) like Vfficient, from VensureHR, allow employers to eliminate multiple technology platforms by combining all of the primary HR features into a single piece of software. For example, a user can manage the onboarding process, run payroll, and gain access to powerful reporting capabilities. 

Additionally, applicant tracking software automates job postings, manages applicant information, and simplifies communication between employer and candidates through auto-responder capabilities, reminders, and offer letter templates.

Craft effective job descriptions

It can be hard to stand out in a sea of similar positions and companies in the same industry or niche. A well-written job description can improve your recruiting efforts.

Start by making sure that the job description is specific, clear, and realistic. For example, if you’re hiring for an entry-level position, requiring three to five years’ experience is not realistic. Avoid using ambiguous, subjective phrases like “entrepreneurial spirit” or “rock star salesperson.” Business owners shouldn’t leave qualified candidates questioning whether they can complete the job duties or not. 

Pros and cons of using a PEO for recruiting 

Working with a professional employer organization (PEO) allows business owners to delegate recruiting and hiring legwork so they can focus on business operations and other priorities. Here are the benefits and potential drawbacks of going this route. 


A PEO will manage business administration

One major benefit of investing in a PEO relationship is that the PEO undertakes a majority of business administration tasks, including recruiting, interviewing, and onboarding new employees. This leaves business owners time to grow their bottom line and to focus on their current employees and company culture.

PEOs offer enhanced benefits options 

PEOs can offer expansive benefit options at a more affordable price for startups and small businesses simply due to the number of clients for whom the PEO offers benefits. This scale affords smaller businesses the opportunity to take advantage of the buying power typically reserved for larger enterprises. 

Additionally, PEOs typically have ancillary benefits, like pet insurance, cyber security, and telehealth, and resources like learning management systems and free training opportunities. This can provide employees the chance to understand their options and make informed decisions regarding their benefits. Read more about the benefits of PEOs here


Less customer service personalization

PEOs typically have a large clientele and are unable to provide personalized customer service to each individual business. Business owners who are concerned about this might want to look for a PEO that offers fewer services or is more selective about which clients they engage, for a more personalized experience. It is in the business owner’s best interest to conduct their due diligence when exploring PEO partnerships.

Limited service options

A common complaint with PEOs is the lack of customization. Oftentimes, PEOs offer preselected service bundles—such as a payroll-only bundle or an HR-only bundle—that aren’t always optimal for certain business models or goals. Clients who partner with this type of PEO would not be able to choose performance management and tax services individually. Customizing a PEO package that includes technology features can allow business leaders to choose among highly sought-after PEO benefits. 

VensureHR offers WeWork members and clients the ability to tailor an HR or administration package that best suits the individual needs of the employer, industry, or region.

As a business grows, so will the need for additional personnel and support staff. This is not only an indication that the business is doing well, it is also a time to evaluate your current recruiting and hiring processes. WeWork members have a significant advantage in this area through discounted business solutions including HR and recruiting support. When it’s time to expand your team, let WeWork and VensureHR do all the work.

Julie Dower is a marketing and communications manager at Vensure Employer Services, living in Chandler, Arizona. A mother of twin girls, she holds a master of science in technical communications from Arizona State University and a master of arts in English from Northern Arizona University.

Lizz Morse is a marketing and communications supervisor at Vensure Employer Services. She holds a master of science in psychology from Grand Canyon University and has been published in Attorney at Law Magazine, Real Estate Agent Magazine, and The Good Men Project, among others. Morse has also ghostwritten a number of articles focused on small business administration and operations, appearing in publications such as Thrive Global and Small Biz Daily.

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