Small Business Recruiting: How to Simplify the Process

Cafe manager interviewing a job applicant, just one step in the small business recruiting process.

Whether you run a restaurant, boutique, or small-scale tech company, it’s likely you view hiring as a distraction to your core business operations. You need the help, but taking time away from what you do best has its own cost.

Small business owners face unique hiring challenges. You have to compete with larger employers for top talent and find time to vet applicants, all while running and growing your business. You also have to keep up with an ever-changing legal landscape, where failing to manage your employee recruitment process according to the rules can result in costly liability.

It’s tempting to rush through the process. However, a bad hiring decision can be costly, especially in a small working environment where one toxic employee can easily throw off your entire team.

How do you streamline small business recruiting without running the risk of making a bad hire? By breaking the process into small, easily accomplished stages, you can establish an efficient process that is easy to replicate as your business continues to grow.

Determine How Much Help You Need

Before you rush to hire a full-time employee, consider whether your immediate need for help or expertise might be addressed in less costly ways. Consider hiring a freelance employee or consultant. After a fixed period, you can gauge their performance and decide whether it makes sense to make the situation permanent.

If your new hire can work remotely, you can save money on overhead and increase your potential talent pool beyond your immediate community. Once you’ve decided how much help you need, it’s time to determine the small business hiring process you will use to find the right person for the job.

Consider Outsourcing or Automating Portions of Your Search

If you don’t yet have a dedicated HR professional in your organization, you may want to look into hiring a recruiting agency. Even if you think you can’t afford the help an agency can provide, you may find that a local recruiter offers scaled fees to small local firms like yours, in the interest of building a relationship that grows as your business grows.

Another way to alleviate some of the work that goes into small business hiring is to invest in automated solutions. Thanks to the availability of scaled digital solutions, smaller employers can access the same applicant tracking systems (ATS) as larger companies. These systems can process and sort applications from job seekers and then rank them according to criteria you select. Not only can an ATS streamline your process, but it can also help you adhere to all applicable employment laws.

Involve Employees in Your Small Business Recruiting Process

Maybe your challenge isn’t sifting through a mountain of resumes. Instead, you may have trouble finding qualified applicants. In this case, offer your current employees an incentive for referrals in the form of bonus pay or paid time off. Be sure to make the bonus contingent on the candidate who is hired remaining on staff for a certain amount of time. You can also seek your employees’ input as you write your job description and interview candidates.

Write a Clear Job Description

The most effective job descriptions make the small business recruiting process much easier to manage. Begin with information about your workplace, including your business mission and management style. Crafting a concise explanation of your company’s focus and philosophy will allow you to better articulate your values to prospective employees and future customers.

Once you’ve clearly communicated what makes your company a great place to work, keep the job responsibilities section brief and your requirements reasonable, especially if you are operating in a community or sector where job applicants are scarce.

Providing a salary range is an important element in small business hiring since it can prevent you from wasting time with applicants whose salary expectations are too high. You can use a salary tool to make sure that your range is appropriate.

Conduct Interviews in an Efficient Manner

Interviewing can be an especially time-consuming part of the small business recruiting process, diverting crucial hours away from other essential tasks. This is especially true if your organization lacks dedicated HR staff.

To save time, consider using video conferencing technology for first-round screening and keep interviews to 30 minutes or less. Use these short interviews to narrow the applicant pool to just three or four top candidates who you can invite for in-person interviews. You can ask one or two of your employees to sit in on interviews, or even delegate the first-round video screenings to an employee whose judgement you trust.

The best interview technique involves asking questions in a variety of categories. You’ll want to begin with easy questions that build rapport and allow the candidate to talk about things they are confident about, such as:

  • What about the job post appealed to them?
  • What was their favorite job and what did they love about it?

Follow up with questions that are more targeted to the job’s responsibilities and the skills necessary to do it well. Ask behavioral and procedural questions that require applicants to explain how they might tackle a given challenge. Your current employees can help you come up with questions and weigh in on the quality of the candidates you meet.

Make Sure Your Onboarding Processes Are Up to Date

You’ve selected your top candidate, they’ve accepted your offer, and you’re preparing to onboard them. Now is a perfect time to make sure you follow all local, state, and federal regulations. Are your workplace safety and harassment policies outdated? Do you have all the forms and paperwork you need to track your new employee’s earnings and data?

In this final phase of your small business recruiting process, you’ll want to overhaul outdated employee policies, forms and materials, deleting any outdated language, before you welcome your new hire. If you’re a sole proprietor and this is the first time you are bringing on staff, you’ll need to obtain an employer ID number, set up a payroll system, and make sure you have a system in place to pay any local, state, and federal income taxes.

Armed with your newly polished array of onboarding materials and an efficient small business hiring strategy, you’ll be in a good position to make your next hiring experience efficient and productive.

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