Top 9 Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners
By Logan Allec
Hiring a new employee can result in a variety of overlooked costs, so it’s important to make each new hire count. Attracting and retaining top talent is a major advantage for your business, while keeping subpar employees puts you behind the competition.
Improving your hiring practices is one of the best changes you can make for your business, leading to lower turnover and more productivity. This article will cover the most important things small business owners should keep in mind throughout the hiring process.
1. Only hire based on your needs
Many business owners want growth—and fast. And in many entrepreneurs’ minds, the quickest way to achieve growth is to hire as many worker bees as possible to take their business to the moon.
Unfortunately, overhiring can cause major headaches later on. What if you’re waiting to collect on overdue receivables and you don’t have the cash to make payroll? You may be forced to take out a short-term business loan to cover your costs, and this can put a major dent in your bottom line. This is why, especially in the early stages, you need to hire based on what your business actually needs today. You shouldn’t be hiring for hiring’s sake in the name of growth.
You need to define the role and specific tasks your next employee will be performing and then find an employee who fits the role perfectly. For example, a job description should include a thorough explanation of the position’s purpose and role in the company along with the most important skills.
Once you have an idea of what your new hire’s duties will look like, it will become easier to identify the right candidates for the job. You might even realize that you can get what you need from an outsourced freelancer or independent contractor rather than having to take on a new employee.
Tip: Ask for help
If you’re hiring to fill a recently vacated position, consider asking the outgoing or former employee for advice on finding a replacement. They will know exactly what it takes to succeed in that role.
2. Turnover is expensive
You might think of turnover as nothing more than finding a suitable replacement, but the reality is it’s a major expense for businesses of all sizes. Even a small decrease in your turnover rate will substantially reduce your costs and improve continuity at all levels.
With that in mind, it’s critical to be confident in each new hire’s long-term future with your business. Increasing employee retention also has an impact on your company culture and makes your business a more attractive destination for new hires.
Tip: Focus on employee engagement
Similarly, you should do everything possible to maximize engagement with your current employees. Gather feedback from your employees to learn more about what they need and how you can incentivize them to stay in their current position.
3. Don’t expect every candidate to accept
Some small business owners assume their work is done once they’ve identified a suitable candidate, but it’s important to remember that potential employees can turn you down just as much as the other way around.
Employees care more about company culture than ever, so you can turn candidates off if you don’t appear to offer a positive work environment. Just like employee retention, this comes down to strong leadership and open communication throughout your business.
Tip: Keep strong applications on file
You should also continue to review applications even if you’ve already filled the position, and keep in touch with any top candidates you don’t hire for the current opening. Having someone in mind for the next vacant position could make the hiring process a lot less complicated.
4. Talent is a significant competitive advantage
Skilled and knowledgeable employees are obviously an asset, but it’s important to understand just how much top-level talent can do for your business. The best workers in your field will put you ahead of the competition and give you a significant advantage over competing businesses.
Tip: Wait for the right candidate
It can be tempting to settle on a candidate early rather than continuing the search—and there’s no question that you lose money every day you wait to hire. On the other hand, it’s worth spending a little more time in the hiring process if it helps you find the perfect person for the job. This is especially important for smaller businesses where each employee has more of an impact on the company’s overall success. Be patient and keep looking for the right candidate. Once you find them, you’ll know it was worth the wait.
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5. Referrals are a great recruiting channel
If you’re not already taking advantage of employee referrals, you’re missing out on one of the top channels for strong talent in your industry. Some of your employees will have contacts in the field with the experience and knowledge you’re looking for.
Tip: Create a referral program
You can capitalize on the potential of referrals by offering incentives to any employee who recommends someone you end up hiring. They’ll know to keep their contacts in mind whenever there’s an opening, and you’ll have a steady stream of qualified candidates. And while you’ll spend a small amount of money on the referral, this is a relatively minor cost compared to what you’d spend advertising the position and going through the interview process. Remember to ask your employees for recommendations whenever you’re looking for a new hire.
6. Intangibles can be just as important
Most interviews focus on the candidate’s main qualifications, but there are also a number of less obvious skills that hiring managers tend to overlook. It’s important to go beyond their experience and knowledge when looking for a new employee.
This is especially true for small businesses—you need employees who are ready to buy in to your brand. If you don’t feel like you have any shared goals or values, they might not be the best candidate.
Tip: Go in-depth during interviews
With that in mind, it’s critical to structure interviews around your most relevant concerns. Rather than asking the standard set of interview questions, try to get to know each candidate and get a feel for how they would fit in your company. It’s critical for smaller businesses to avoid hiring employees who are just there to earn a paycheck and go home. Instead, look for candidates who are passionate about what you’re doing and ready to contribute wherever they can.
7. Candidates can come from anywhere
Many small businesses advertise job openings on just one channel and wait for the right candidates to apply. While there’s nothing wrong with using this strategy if you know there are qualified candidates on a specific platform, advertising on a single channel limits the pool of available applicants.
Tip: Post on multiple job boards
The more candidates you reach with your job postings, the better odds you’ll have of finding the perfect hire. Start advertising openings on at least three channels for the greatest possible outreach. If you’re not sure which platforms to start with, consider downloading a digital solution to help you manage the hiring process. Most hiring solutions enable you to post ads on several platforms simultaneously, increasing visibility without forcing you to create the same ad for each channel.
8. It’s tough to learn everything in a single interview
Interviews are the best way to get to know each candidate, but there’s no way to learn all the relevant information from a single conversation. Looking into a candidate’s personal history can help you gather more information about them before making a decision, and you can tailor your interview questions to get more relevant answers.
Tip: Vet candidates thoroughly
It’s tough to be 100% confident in a candidate before they start with your business, but you’ll get a lot closer once you start looking into each candidate more seriously. This includes asking targeted questions for any issues on applicant résumés along with other efforts to gather as much information as possible. You may also want to look into a candidate’s social media history as part of the hiring process; anything offensive or otherwise negative should be considered a major red flag. Whomever you hire will be responsible for representing the brand’s values to your customers.
9. Training can be costly and time-consuming
As mentioned earlier, losing an existing employee and hiring a new one is an expensive process. Training incoming employees is one of the most time-consuming aspects of hiring, so it’s important to look for ways to streamline your training practices.
Much of the training process is the same from one new hire to the next, so there’s no reason to go through each step for every new hire. Fortunately, businesses looking to train employees more efficiently now have a number of effective options.
Tip: Make training easier for your business
The simplest way to train new employees more quickly is simply to save the relevant documentation in a training folder. You’ll have immediate access to things like company history, tax documentation, job descriptions, and more the next time you bring in a new hire. There are also a variety of training solutions that allow you to digitally manage the training process. Either way, make sure to ask employees for feedback on the training process once they’ve spent a month or two with your company—this will help you make adjustments to your training practices and onboard future employees even more quickly.
As a small business owner, I know it can be tempting to fill a role as quickly as possible when a new need arises or when a core team member leaves unexpectedly. That said, there are many things to consider before hiring a new employee for your business. Taking the time to hire a good employee will save you from the time, money, and headaches in the long run that you would have had if you rushed into a hiring decision.
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