Essentials of
Small Business Management

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Seek, and Ye Shall Find -- Practical Recruiting Techniques

You have hit a crossroads. You have too much work to do and too little time to do it in. It is time to hire someone to help you. But how will you go about finding the right person? Where should you look? Who should you ask?

The first step is to develop a Successful recruiting plan. This will help you determine what you need in terms of help before you begin your search. It also helps you decide where you should look for a new employee based on the "level" of person you are looking for. A third benefit of a Successful recruiting plan is that it contains solid, job-related criteria for evaluating candidate resumes. All in all, taking time to plan out your strategy saves you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Of course, developing a plan may not be enough. Here are a few things you should beware of as you put your plan into action.

  • Hiring the wrong person can be a costly mistake. The bottom line is that it is difficult to fire someone these days so it is in your own best interest to make sure that the person you are hiring is the best "fit" for your company.
  • Delegating the hiring process may backfire on you. If at all possible, do not delegate the hiring process. You are the expert when it comes to your company. Since you have the clearest idea of where your company is headed, you are the best qualified for choosing the type of people who will be able to help you reach your goals.
  • Having too high of expectations may eliminate your options. Ask yourself if your ideal employee profile is realistic and reasonable. If you want someone with an MBA and 10 years of experience but only want to pay them $10/hr., you are probably not going to find that person. Likewise, you will want to determine if the job you are seeking to fill is really one job or two? Can you realistically find the mixture of education, experience and skills you are looking for? Can a new employee actually come in ready to "hit the ground running," or will they require some basic training? By setting some realistic expectations at the beginning, you will reduce your own frustration while increasing your chances of Success of recruiting the right person for your company.
  • Be aware of the legal requirements. It is always a good idea to consult an employment attorney before you begin recruiting and hiring people for your business. Each state has its own laws regarding recruiting and hiring. By finding out what these legalities are ahead of time, you may save yourself time and trouble in the future. A skilled employment attorney can also help you to generate all types of recruiting forms such as employment applications, job offers and employment contracts, and letters of agreement that can be used continuously to protect both you and your prospective employees.

The Recruiting Process

There are four steps involved in recruiting a new employee:

  • Figure out what it is you need
  • Determine where you are going to look
  • Develop a recruiting advertisement
  • Evaluate the resumes you receive

Figure out what it is you need

Before you begin searching for a new employee, you have to know what it is you are looking for. The easiest and best way to figure this out is to have the person who is currently filling the position write down what they do in very specific detail. In other words, have them write their own job description.

If this is a new position, come up with a list of all of the duties that you think this job will include. Again, be as specific as possible. For instance, do you need someone on a part-time or full-time basis? How many hours a day do you expect this position to require? What skills, experience, or education is needed for this job? Does the work you need done have to be completed on-site or can the person work from home? Is there any potential for advancement? How will you measure productivity? What personal characteristics are you looking for (e.g., initiative, team player, etc.) ? Will physical strength be a factor?

By answering these questions, you can more easily develop a clear job description which can then be used to help you: determine rate of pay; recruit potential candidates for employment; and later, to set standards of performance for the employee(s) you hire. Once you have determined what you really need, you still must decide what you are willing to pay someone. Are you planning to pay by the hour or do you want to pay a salary? What benefits does your company offer? Remember to be realistic. Find out what the market rate is for the type of person you are trying to hire. Your local Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Administrative Management Society, the American Management Association, major companies in your area, and national trade publication salary surveys are all good sources of information for market rate information regarding specific jobs.

It is important to remember that pay is not always the deciding factor when you are trying to hire someone. More and more, companies are using benefits like job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, pay for performance, etc. to hire the best and the brightest. As a small business owner, one of your biggest advantages is your flexibility. So use your imagination!

Determine where you are going to look

Now that you have a clear picture of the job you're hiring for and the skills and experience your new employee must possess, you can decide where to look for prospective employees.

Sources of employees exist everywhere. However, the quantity and quality of the individuals you will attract is directly tied to where you decide to look. For instance, if you are looking for a clerk, you may find that your best response is achieved by advertising in a local, daily newspaper or hanging a "help-wanted" sign on your door. On the other hand, if you are wanting to find a highly skilled technical person, you may want to advertise in a trade publication. This will probably result in a reduction in the number of overall responses you receive, but will also increase the number of potentially qualified applicants you have to choose from.

Believe it or not, recruiting does not have to be expensive. There are many sources of free recruitment if you just know where to look.

  • Professional and personal contacts. Professional contacts, like your banker, accountant, lawyer, doctor, etc., are often good sources of information since they come in contact with a lot of different types of people. Likewise, friends can be a great resource and are usually more than willing to help out. Remember, there is strength in numbers. If you tell two people and they tell two people, pretty soon you will have a wide circle of contacts working for your benefit.
  • Professional associations and other groups. Local chapters of groups and professional associations often have newsletters and bulletin boards where you can post or review recruitment advertisements.
  • Schools. Universities, community colleges, technical schools and high schools all have job placement offices that can help you link up with potential employees.
  • Outplacement agencies. Outplacement agencies and human resource departments of large companies that are downsizing are good places to look for highly skilled workers in need of a job.
  • Government agencies. Government agencies such as your local Public Employment or Unemployment Bureau have information about people who are looking for work. In some states, agencies maintain employment databases that you can search to find candidates that meet the needs of your company.
  • Other sources. Present employees, customers, clients, vendors, and local army bases can also be great recruitment resources.

For a fee, you can find many recruiting sources that will be more than willing to help you in your search. These include:

  • Employment agencies. Regardless of the level of employee you are seeking, placement agencies, personnel agencies, and employment agencies can save you time and money by providing the initial weed-out of potential employees.
  • Print advertising. You have probably already thought of putting a recruitment advertisement in a local, regional or national newspaper such as National Business Employment Weekly. Remember that Sunday is the best day of the week to place a local or regional ad. National newspapers are a little more flexible. Trade magazines and newspapers, which you can find by reviewing sources like Bacon's Magazine Directory, can also be a good place to include an ad. One thing to be aware of if you decide to advertise nationally is that candidates will expect you to pay their travel fees and to some degree their moving expenses if they are hired. You may want to reduce these initial expenses by conducting phone interviews to narrow your range of potential candidates.
  • On-line bulletin boards. As the Internet grows, it is becoming one of the hot areas for recruiting. For example, Compuserve contains general help wanted sections where they run recruitment advertisements. Likewise, new on-line service are popping up which exclusively target employers and employees like Monsterboard and CareerMosaic.

Develop a recruiting advertisement

A recruitment advertisement is basically a sales tool. As you develop your recruiting ad, focus on the benefits you can offer a potential employee. In other words, pinpoint those things that make your company stand out. For instance, does your company offer casual dress? What about telecommuting or flexible hours? Is your company culture fast-paced and dynamic or more laid-back and friendly? Each of these attributes will attract different types of people. Make sure you are attracting the type of people who you really want.

Using a display ad or an ad with lots of type may, because of size, attract more candidates; but it is not really necessary to spend the extra money. An ad that is to-the-point, well-written and puts the company's best foot forward will do the job, too.

Just like in any good ad, you will want to have a headline and opening statement that really grabs the reader. Your headline should be the title of the position you are seeking. When choosing a title, make sure that the name accurately describes the position. This will help you avoid confusion in the future. Once you have a title, you can write your first sentence. The first sentence should explain the benefit of working for your company and/or working in that particular position. Try to focus on basic human needs such as independence, career potential, prestige, glamour, etc.

In the main section of the ad, include truthful information about your company. Using a friendly tone and using words like "we" and "our" is acceptable. In fact, the warmer tone may actually be an attractive feature to those who have been laid off or are very family conscious. Just remember that you are setting a tone that will attract individuals who feel the same way you do. In other words, if you write your advertisement correctly, like will attract like.

Regardless of the tone you set, there are several items you will want to consider including in your ad:

  • A basic description of the job.
  • The name and description of your company. This could be a double-edged sword. By including the name and description of your company, you will most likely attract a lot more attention. On the other side, you will probably end up being swamped with phone inquiries which do you little or no good. One way to avoid this problem is to include a short statement in your ad such as "No phone calls, please."
  • The salary or salary range of the job. The only time you will want to include salary information is when you want to eliminate long-shot candidates. In most cases, you will want to wait to share this information until you are actually in the interview process.
  • Benefits. As we mentioned earlier, you will want to include information on those items that will attract potential candidates (e.g., employee benefits, key workplace benefits (non-smoking, flexible, casual, etc.), and key job benefits (career potential, income potential, challenge, etc.).

References to race, gender, age, color, physical aptitude, and any other discriminatory statements are off limits. All such statements are illegal, not to mention unethical. All requirements listed in your ad should be job related and should contain no reference to the job being permanent, stable, or secure. All of these statements can get you in legal hot water. Last, but not least, be sure to end your ad with "Equal Employment Opportunity Employer."

Here are a couple of examples of effective recruitment ads.

"We are an international company specializing in technical products for the cutting horse industry. Currently, we are offering an outstanding opportunity at our headquarters in Springtown for a personable, sharp individual who will be responsible for assembling and testing computer design boards."

"Simply Fabulous, an industry leader in fine foods, is offering a dynamic opportunity to join our international marketing department. You will become involved in international advertising, market research and market strategy. We prefer an MBA with 3-5 years experience in the food distribution industry."

Evaluate the resumes you receive

Regardless of the type of medium you use to get the word out, resumes will begin pouring in soon after you let people know you are looking to hire someone. At this point, you will need a plan that will help you sort through all of the paperwork you will be receiving.

The key to evaluating resumes is to do so in small doses. Never try to evaluate more than 15 resumes in one sitting. If you try to evaluate more than 15 resumes at once, you will find that you will most likely become overwhelmed and will have trouble keeping the information straight in your head. Another strategy you will want to use is to make three piles of resumes: one of the candidates you definitely want to interview; one of the candidates you might like to interview; and one of the candidates who you do not want to interview.

Use your good judgment when evaluating resumes. Take into consideration both the requirements of the job as well as the less tangible aspects of what you consider a good employee for the position. For instance, do you want a generalist or a specialist? Do you want someone who will want more and more challenges or someone who is satisfied with just doing one type of job?

Look at both positive and negative flags. Are there typos and grammar errors or is the resume professional and neat? Are the verbs the candidate uses passive (ie., assisted with, was exposed to) or active (directed, managed, sold, etc.). Passive verbs indicate little first-hand experience while active verbs indicate full responsibility and direct experience.

After you have sorted through all the resumes you have received, begin contacting the candidates from your first stack (ie., the candidates you definitely want to interview). Contact as many candidates as you have time for, tell each of them a bit about your company and the job, and then determine how many are interested enough to schedule a face-to-face interview.

 

David L. Heiserman, Editor

Copyright   SweetHaven Publishing Services
All Rights Reserved

Revised: June 06, 2015