What are the most effective hiring tips for a small business?
We asked business leaders and HR professionals for their insights. From setting up a trial hiring period to balancing filling a current role with where it will grow, here are 14 hiring tips for small business.
1. Give Trial Hiring a Go
When I was starting a small business, one of the best hiring tips I found was to consider a trial hiring process. Trial hires are invaluable in getting the right person to fill a new position. It allows you to test out someone’s skills and work ethic without committing to them long term. This works great in competitive job markets or if you’re overwhelmed with applicants that look great on paper but don’t necessarily have the references or network connections you’re looking for. Trial runs also help build chemistry between potential employees and the companies they may join long term, creating an opportunity for both parties to mutually benefit from a well-informed decision.
Antreas Koutis, Administrative Manager, Financer
2. Don’t Sell Yourself Short
As a recruiter, I’ve noticed that the most successful small businesses are the ones that refuse to scale down their hiring operations. They reach out to big recruiting firms and demand to be put in touch with top talent. It’s not just a fake-it-until-you-make-it strategy; understand that your value as a company isn’t directly correlated to the number of people you employ. It’s about your impact on the industry, and some downright tiny companies have changed the world. So don’t sell yourself short when hiring for a small business. Aim high and wide, and you might just be surprised at the quality of candidates you can draw.
Debbie Winkelbauer, CEO, Surf Search
3. Re-interview Past Applicants for Hire
Hiring for a small business can be arduous and time-consuming. One employer hiring tip is to consider past job applicants who didn’t make the cut into interviewees for subsequent positions. Not only does this save time, but it allows the business owner to see if those individuals have made viable improvements during their tenure at other places of employment — which could make them better fits than when they initially applied. This approach also enables the proprietor an opportunity to forge relationships with these potential candidates, which could prove beneficial in the long term, as these candidates can already appreciate what the company stands for and are eager to return.
Grace He, People & Culture Director, TeamBuilding
4. Focus on Culture
Company culture is really important for a small business. Employees often work closely together and have a significant impact on the overall success of the organization. You’ll want to ensure that new hires share the same values and work ethic as the rest of the team. Clearly communicate the company culture and values during the hiring process and make sure that candidates clearly understand what it is like to work for the organization. This can help to attract candidates who are aligned with the company’s mission and values and increase the likelihood of a successful hire.
Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed
5. Pay Attention to Recruiting Diversity
Unconscious discrimination often appears throughout the hiring process. Internal hiring policies that support diversity are essential because interviewees are unaware of them. Make sure your job description has been thoroughly reviewed and that your interview questions are inclusive to eliminate unconscious bias. You will explore previously unexplored perspectives and find for new opportunities.
Rene Delgado, Founder & CEO, Indoor Golf Shop
6. Take the Time to Create a Detailed Job Description
Being clear about the job you’re hiring for is crucial for attracting the right candidates. As a small business, it can be tempting to rush the hiring process and hire someone who seems like they’ll fit in well, but this approach can lead to problems down the line. It’s important to have a clear and detailed job description if you want to find the right person for the job. This means taking the time to think through the role that the new hire will play in your business and outlining the essential job responsibilities and qualifications required. Having a clear job description not only helps to ensure that you attract the right candidates but also ensures that candidates know what they’re getting into before they apply. This can save you and the candidate a lot of time and energy in the long run.
Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy & Growth, Resume Worded
7. Utilize Social Media
Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram, utilizing social media is a great way to increase awareness about the brand and the role. Consider making a post or story that features the open position and the job description, as well as the salary. People check social media more than any other platform, so it’s great in conjunction with posting on a job board.
Kenneth Lin, CEO, BOOP Bakery
8. Consider the Soft Needs of Your Team
Hiring practices should consider the size and structure of your business; what works for one company might not work for another. The smaller your company, the more tightly knit your workforce. When you employ less than a dozen people, a single mis-hire can disrupt the entire team. So, when you’re looking to gain a new employee, consider their broader needs. It’s not just a question of education or skill set, but personality, so be sure to evaluate things like communication style, scheduling preferences, and emotional intelligence in your process.
Tim Walsh, Founder, Vetted
9. Hold Your Horses on Hiring
When small businesses have a hiring need, it feels urgent. Often, there is not a lot of backup; usually employees are wearing multiple hats every day, so the pressure is really on. However, don’t let that pressure cloud your judgment. Small businesses are sometimes quick to hire the first candidate who looks appealing. I say, pump the brakes and be patient. Trust your gut. Don’t settle just to get a warm body in a seat. Be sure to properly vet candidates and really think about what the business needs before making a rash decision. I also see a lot of small business owners who are quick to hire friends and family to fill vacancies. While this strategy may work well in the early days, proceed with caution as the company grows. Businesses outgrow employees. When the tough decision has to be made to part ways with someone who is a friend or family member, that situation becomes unnecessarily awkward. Do not put the rest of your employees in that tough spot.
Christie Engler, Director of People & Culture, Willory
10. Brand the Culture You Want to Cultivate
Individuals want to work for a firm that has a great culture and places a chief priority on employee satisfaction. Before accepting a job offer, candidates often look up the company on social media to see what its employees are saying. Every employee, especially in a small company, has a significant influence on culture. The effects of one person’s innovation, poor attitude, productivity, or disinterest can be felt throughout the entire organization. Even though you might be under pressure to sign offer letters as soon as possible and achieve your immediate goals, take some time to reflect on the workplace you want to operate and the values that are most important to you. Put an emphasis on these traits while hiring new employees. Small business entrepreneurs already have too many responsibilities to regret an offer letter. Always choose people you’ll actually love working with, and when hiring a new employee, listen to both your instinct and your rationality.
Himanshu Sharma, CEO & Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing
11. Develop a Strong Employee Value Proposition (EVP)
What’s going on in your organization that’s exciting, transformative, and compelling enough to make people want to join? Whether it’s work-life balance, excellent compensation, being in an exciting industry like climate tech, or even having amazing people that work there who anybody would be lucky to work with, the problem is most small businesses don’t know what that EVP is. So you have to be clear, concise, and consistent with it. New hires can be scared off by hearing one thing on your website or from the recruiter that is different when they go through the actual interview process and talk to your hiring team. Just because somebody hasn’t heard of your company now doesn’t mean that they won’t hear about it later or that it’s not a great company. Be clear about why you are great and align with what motivates new hires.
Oz Rashid, Founder & CEO, MSH
12. Ask for In-House Referrals to Boost Diversity
Many small businesses grapple with the challenge of boosting diversity in their hiring with a limited budget that may allow for little flexibility in the hiring process. However, there is a more practical approach to this — asking for in-house referrals. It will surprise you how many employees would be ready to recommend a friend or someone they know for a job at your company. This approach to hiring ensures that you keep your hiring costs low, tap into a talented pool that will enhance team chemistry, and achieve DEI goals.
Liam Liu, Co-founder & CMO, ParcelPanel
13. Don’t Reinvent the Wheel
With hiring for your small business, it can be tempting to start from scratch and create everything from job descriptions to offer letters. However, this can be a time-consuming and resource-draining process. Luckily, many government agencies provide guidance and resources for small businesses, including template job descriptions, offer letters, and more. By taking advantage of these resources, small business owners can save time and ensure they are following best practices in their hiring processes. Don’t reinvent the wheel — use the resources available to you, and make your hiring process more efficient and effective.
Lilia Koss, Community Manager, Facialteam
14. Hire for Current Needs, as Well as Potential
Don’t hire only for the current — hire for potential. This is especially true for small businesses that want to find quality people and have them develop within their organization. In the beginning, you might find an unproven, inexperienced employee. But over time, they can turn into a contributing expert who can fill a huge role in your small business. Small business owners need to find the balance between hiring someone who is knowledgeable enough to do the job, as well as someone who can grow within the organization and become even more than just another team member. When you are hiring, try to find candidates who can fill both boxes: they can do the job now, but also have the potential to become more than the current role you’re hiring for.
Stan Caramalac, CEO & Founder, Move Central
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