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20+ Recruitment Tips for Small Businesses (A Guide to Recruitment)

Posted: 6 August 2019 at 2:07 pm | Author: Amber Tennant

If you struggle to recruit the best talent for your business, then you’re not alone.

Perhaps you find yourself spending a small fortune on recruitment advertising? Maybe you’re spending months finding the perfect candidate, only to see them wave goodbye within the first few months, leaving you to return to the drawing board?

Whatever the problem may be, never fear!

This is a comprehensive guide to recruitment for small businesses, including 20+ actionable recruitment tips to help you hire the right person for your business – and keep them!

Table of contents:

Recruitment tips for small businesses: Writing a job description

Writing a job description is one of the most critical phases of the hiring process. It’s the first opportunity to think carefully about what you and the business really need before putting pen to paper.  

Many businesses fail at the first hurdle by putting forward an unclear message about who they’re looking for. To avoid this, spend some time examining your own strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out where and how someone else will be able to fill in the gaps. Imagine what the person’s day would look like, and how their position will change your workload.

Once you’re clear on what role you’re looking for, make sure to take these recruitment tips on board when writing your job profile:

Job Title

  • Use short, targeted job titles that accurately describe the role
  • Avoid using technical or internal terms that people are less likely to look for and may confuse the job seeker

Job Summary

  • Open with an attention grabbing overview of your company and the role, including whether it is full/part time
  • Tell your job seeker why they should apply for a job at your company (For example, it could be one or more of the following: Impressive employee benefits, competitive salary, exciting development opportunities, flexible working, friendly team members – or something else!)
  • Don’t make the mistake of thinking that attracting the top talent is beyond your reach if you cannot compete with the salaries offered by industry giants. Often working for a smaller business can offer other benefits that candidates may value more than money – for example more opportunities for growth, flexible working hours, or working in a smaller, more tight-knit team.
  • Include an exact job location and be clear if the role involves travel

Responsibilities and duties

  • Outline the core responsibilities of the position, making sure to emphasise any duties that may be unique to your organisation
  • List examples of day-to-day activities of the position, so the candidate can determine whether they have relevant experience
  • Explain how the position fits into the organisation so candidates can see the bigger picture and how their role contributes to the wider business

Qualifications and Skills

  • Include a short list of hard/soft skill requirements and personality/character traits you’re looking for, for example…
    • Hard skills: Education level, previous job experience, certifications and other technical skills
    • Soft skills: Good communication skills, ability to problem solve etc
    • Personality/character traits: Friendly, approachable etc

Top tip: If your business has someone who is responsible for marketing, why not let them take a look at your advert before publishing? They may have some ideas about how to make your copy more exciting and appealing!

Recruitment tips for advertising a job vacancy

Recruitment tips for small businesses: Advertising a job vacancy

Now you’ve put together a sparkling job description, it’s time to find your candidates!

To reach the right people, you’ve got to find out where they are – the places they go, the websites they’re on, which media they ‘inhabit’, and so on. Remember, a good ad in the wrong place is going to be pretty ineffective, and you could find yourself spending lots of time and money on advertising, all to no avail!

Depending on how specialist your job role is, you could look to advertise your job vacancy by:

  • Sharing your job to local job hunting social media groups
  • Asking your LinkedIn connections to share your advertisements
  • Making use of social media paid advertising options to push your job to specific audiences
  • Asking your industry connections and current team members for referrals, even offering a bonus to encourage recommendations (An existing employee or connection are unlikely to risk their own reputation by recommending a bad person.)
  • Purchasing space in your local newspapers (general roles) or industry publications (specialist roles)
  • Posting your vacancy to recruitment websites such as Reed, Monster, Indeed or JobSite UK, or industry job boards for more specialist roles
  • Posting your vacancy to industry forums, websites, blogs and social media groups
  • Investing in a recruitment service, which often has its own pool of potential candidates for different industries and may be able to source suitable candidates faster. Find a recruitment agency near you

Remember to be open to new recruitment tips and strategies where they arise – traditional methods such as newspaper advertising are still very effective for many roles, but they won’t work all the time! What’s more…

Have an engaging website and make it easy to apply!

Provided you place your adverts in front of the right audiences, before you know it you should have plenty of keen candidates looking to apply.

Before applying for your role, they’re likely to look to your website to read more about who you are and consider whether you’re the right company for them.

Think about how you can brighten up your corner of the internet and the best way to present your company, for example you could create a careers page or a “meet the team” area.  

Also – make your application process as simple as possible!  

Don’t fall at the final hurdle by making it impossible for people to enquire and apply for the role.

Recruitment tips for interviewing job applicants

Recruitment tips for small businesses: Shortlisting and interviewing job applicants

Holding an interview is a crucial stage of the hiring process, where preparation and structure are essential.

By having a plan in place that allows an objective standard on which to base your decisions, you’ll overcome interviewing pitfalls and identify the best person for the job.

Take a look at our recruitment tips for the interview process:

Refine the interview process

An interview is just as much about showing the candidate why your business is great, than it is about you getting to know your applicants. If you fail to prepare a productive interview structure, this will reflect poorly on your company. Make sure you plan ahead, know what questions you would like to ask your candidates and what information you would like to gain from the interview.

Choose the right interviewers

Every word spoken by your interviewers is a reflection on your company – so make sure you have the best and most relevant people in your company leading the process.

Review the candidate’s application

Every application is different, so by taking the time to review them again before the interview, you will show you have taken the time to really engage with your candidate by asking questions that are more specific to their application.

Ask specific, open ended questions

Whilst questions such as “tell me about yourself” are good icebreakers; ask more specific, open ended questions to get a better idea of a person’s strengths and the work environment they thrive in – you could ask about projects they’ve worked on, previous work environments, and what they liked/disliked about each.

Set the right expectations

It’s easy to paint a rose tinted picture of the job by focussing on the best parts during the recruitment process and overlooking the reality and challenges of a role. Any candidate needs to have a clear understanding of what a new role entails and the expectations that will be placed on them before they make a decision. There is nothing more disappointing than walking in on your first day to find a job that is completely different to the role you expected. It can see highly skilled talent disappear, fast, and waste time on both ends.

Recruitment tips for choosing the right candidate

Recruitment for small businesses: Choosing the right candidate to hire

Now you’ve interviewed your candidates, it’s time for the tough (or not so tough) decision – who gets the job?!  More recruitment tips coming up…

Keep an open mind and look beyond the CV

Choosing the right candidate is more than a simple tick boxing exercise. It’s about taking a closer look at who your candidates are, what they value and how they approach work. This doesn’t mean lower your standards, but it does mean looking for potential and thinking outside the box. Ultimately – there are pros and cons to all new hires so you need to know what is most important to you. For example…

  • A person who fits in well with your organisation’s values and goals is probably much more likely to successfully embed into the team, than someone with all the right skills but little understanding of who you are as a business.

  • Someone without a degree but loads of industry experience could still be a great candidate, so don’t overlook them simply due to the lack of formal education.

  • Sometimes a candidate with slightly less experience but who is enthusiastic and willing to learn on-the-job might be a better choice than the expert who you can’t rely on.

  • Maybe you’re sitting in front of the perfect candidate for your full time position, but they’re only looking for part time work. Are you willing to be flexible for the right person? 

Reject wisely

News travels fast. It’s perfectly fine to reject candidates, but be courteous and appreciate the time they’ve invested by politely letting them know the position has been filled.

And remember… don’t rush!

Many industries are suffering from skills shortages. It can be a challenge to attract the talent you need. But that should never mean you choose the best out of a bad bunch. It will only cause a bigger headache down the line. Don’t be afraid to start over if you haven’t found the right person.

Recruitment tips for retaining new employees

Recruitment tips for small businesses: Welcoming and retaining a new employee

So you’ve found an amazing candidate. Someone who is set to be a great asset to your business, with valuable skills and experience. And they have accepted your offer! Give yourself a pat on the back, but don’t turn your back and walk away now you’ve come this far. You need to take steps to ensure you retain your talent in the long term.

Have a good onboarding process

To retain talent in the long term you need to develop a clear welcoming plan to help new starters feel like part of the team.  You shouldn’t expect a new hire to jump right in with no support or guidance, as it may leave them feeling isolated and prone to looking elsewhere.

Ask for feedback

Sometimes losing good talent is inevitable. We are all human and life takes unexpected turns which take us away from our jobs, but if you begin to see a pattern of new hires leaving soon after joining your organisation, you need to be able to have honest and open exit interviews. This way, you can establish whether other factors are at play and what you can do better in the future.  

Still can’t find the perfect employee? Grow your own!

Have you considered hiring an apprentice? Apprenticeships are a great way to grow a loyal employee and give someone the opportunity to train in your industry. What’s more – many training providers can often help you with recruitment. At CAW Business School we can screen and interview candidates for FREE. Speak to our team on 01480 422060 if you’d like to discuss apprenticeship training in more detail. Find out more about apprenticeship training

CAW Business School, based in Godmanchester, Huntingdon (Cambridgeshire) was set up by The College of Animal Welfare in 2012 to offer business and accountancy programmes to those throughout the Eastern region and beyond.

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