Make the Right Hiring Decisions for your Small Business
By: Linda Childers
Your small business may be growing by leaps and bounds. As you decide to add to your existing workforce, employment experts say it’s important to take steps to ensure you recruit and hire the right candidates.
“Small businesses need to be strategic when recruiting new hires in order to avoid hiring pitfalls that can cost them time and money,” says Mary Anne Kennedy, a human resources expert from Millstone Township, New Jersey, and author of Finding the Right Job: A Step-by-Step Approach.
“I encourage small business owners to build a job description around the work that needs to be accomplished, and then look for candidates who offer that specific skillset.”
Since hiring employees you don’t need can cripple a small business, consider the following before you post that job description:
Consider Timing. If you find your business is missing growth opportunities because you and your employees are short-staffed or you can’t keep up with customer needs, it may be time to hire. While a good manager knows when to pitch in, that doesn't mean doing the work of three people.
“After building a job description, small businesses should set the standards and expectations for the job,” Kennedy says. “Note what the specific tasks are, what’s required to perform them and how the employee’s performance will be measured.”
Assess Workflows. Before hiring new employees, Margaret Jacoby, SPHR, president and principal consultant, MJ Management Solutions, Mesa, Arizona, also advises small business owners to assess their current workflow, and then to hire strategically.
“All too often a small business owner will feel as though they are overwhelmed and need to hire someone immediately,” Jacoby says. “There’s nothing worse than to hire someone for a poorly defined role.”
Before hiring, Jacoby recommends assessing your company’s on-going business needs and what help you would require if your company suddenly experienced a growth spurt. Ask yourself what tasks could be taken on by existing staff, as well as areas where you’d require additional assistance.
Also, assess the stability of your business, customer base and budget, to determine if your company could retain new hires in the event of an economic downturn.
Consider Outsourcing. Kennedy says filling a position isn’t just about whom you hire, but how you structure the position. Outsourcing is often a good alternative to hiring a full-time staff member if you only occasionally need assistance or are seeking someone to work on a specific project.
Hiring contractors and freelancers also allows small businesses to save money since they aren’t paying healthcare and vacation expenses.
Recruiting IT workers is one area where small businesses often outsource. Instead of allocating resources to implement and maintain new IT systems, outsourcing allows small businesses to focus on critical aspects of their business such as their products and customers.
Know When to Keep Jobs In-House. Many small business owners have learned the hard way that no one sells their business as well as they do. If you want to grow your company’s sales base, consider whether sales is a job that you can take on yourself, and perhaps delegate some of your other tasks to another employee.
If you do decide to hire an outside salesperson, Kennedy recommends hiring a candidate who is a “hunter” rather than a “farmer.”
“Farmers are content to maintain the status quo and to harvest existing customer business while hunters have a ferocious appetite and are aggressive about finding potential new customers and seeking out leads,” Kennedy says.
Identify Tasks to Help Grow Your Business. Jacoby advises small businesses to hire based on their future needs, rather than just their current needs. Where do you see your business in the next year, the next five years, and what kinds of employees do you need to reach those goals?