How to Find Good Employees for a Small Business

By VICKY BROWN

I bet you struggle because you don’t know how to find good employees for your small business.  Well, never fear – there are loads of tips (most, I bet you never even thought of) to help you pinpoint the right people.

Now, I’m not going to talk about placing ads in this episode; although I do think posting on job boards is a critical part of the overall recruiting process.  But today, we are going to think ‘outside the ad placement box’.

Another area I’m not going to review in this episode is tips and tricks on how to properly interview and vet candidates.  If you would like more information on how to interview, what questions to ask and how to get to the real information you need, and even grab some sample questions, check out this video How To Conduct a Job Interview.

Today we’re going to focus on where you can find these magical unicorns.  You know, the people who have amazing customer service skills, great work ethics, are diligent, detailed and filled with integrity.  And yes, they DO exist – it just takes a bit of work to find them.

First up, we have to start with your hiring process.  You’ve got to clean it up, because if you aren’t crystal clear about what you need in the business, and haven’t created a candidate experience that is dazzling – well then, you are just shooting yourself in the foot.  Don’t’ fool yourself, recruiting is an exercise in marketing.  No, you aren’t trying to get new clients, but you are marketing for new employees.  So, have you clearly laid out the value proposition?  And don’t fool yourself, it has to be more than just money.  What is the company culture, how are people treated, what is your take on developing talent?

Now, I’m going to assume you know the answers to all these questions.  But – have you told anybody?  Well, if not – that’s the first tip – Create an Amazing Candidate Experience.  That means, respond in a timely manner to submitted resumes.

Oh, I know – about now you’re probably seriously doubting my sanity and saying to yourself, “does she have any idea how many resumes I get for even just one job?! There is no way we can reply to all of them – I just don’t have the time or woman-power”.

Well, that’s where technology comes in.  And that leads me to the second tip. You’re going to need a good Applicant Tracking System.  You see, the secret is to make the applicant do most of the work.  They enter their information, so when the time comes, all you have to do is push a button and the appropriate eMail is automatically whisked off to them.  In fact, something as simple as a confirmation of submission eMail might even be automatically generated without you even touching a button.  And because I know we are all on a budget, I have posted 4 free applicant tracking systems below.  That’s right – they are free, so no excuses.

Next, you’ll need to tout your culture and environment to the world.  You should absolutely have an Website Careers Page.  You know, a Careers Page is for a lot more than just posting your open jobs.  It should give candidates a flavor of who you are and how you do what you do.  What makes you different.  What’s your take on development and training.  Do you have great perks like summer hours or remote working flexibility.  How about enhanced or unusual benefits – like pet insurance, or a collage savings plan.  Maybe you support giving back by paying employees to do volunteer work, or organizing teams to support non-profit projects.  You have to tell people, let them get a flavor of what’s important to you company, and how your show it.

The next tip?

… don’t overlook finding great employees by asking your current great employees!

Look for great rather than experience.  You can train someone on skills, but someone with good solid judgement, and a customer service focus – well, that you can’t teach.  Oh, you can polish it up with some training techniques, but being driven to put the customer’s needs in first position – that’s a talent that’s usually just part of someone’s personality.

And when I say look for great – I mean look EVERYWHERE for great.  Post on all your social media outlets – and remember, I’m not talking about posting a job description here.  I mean write a proper advertisement that markets to the right target candidate – and then put it out everywhere.  Reach out and send it to your professional networks.  Ask your vendors if they know of anyone; check with your broker, banker, accountant, attorney – and any other professional you regularly deal with.  Use your whole network.

And that means – don’t forget to ask your friends and personal network if they know of anyone.  Who knows, once they really think about it, Sally’s nephew might be perfect for what you need.

And best of all – don’t overlook finding great employees by asking your current great employees!  Create a formal Employee Referral Program.  It could go something like this – if they refer someone who is hired and stays with the company for 30 days or 3 months or 6 months (it’s really up to you), then they will receive a referral fee.  And, the referral fee doesn’t have to break the bank – depending on the job, it could be something like $100 up to $1,000 or more.  Again, it all depends on your business, and what makes a nice incentive for your employees.

Oh, and by the way – you could even open your Referral program up to non-employees if that makes sense for you.

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The next tip – it’s a good idea to be in constant recruitment mode.  And by that I mean, be aware when you are out and about – maybe you encounter someone whose level of customer care really strikes you.  Give them a compliment, and your card.  It could be at the market, or deli, restaurant or cleaners.  Remember, you are always encountering someone who is working – be aware of how they are coming across to you as a customer.   If they are giving you great customer care, then chances are they will give your clients great customer care as well.

Remember to look beyond your location or industry.  Don’t let these things limit your search.  Skills can be transferable from industry to industry.  And with today’s options, location is much less of a barrier than it was in the past.  So open your mind to alternate possibilities.

You could also consider partnering with non-profits that help people get back on their feet.  Many times the non-profit will provide skills training, and they are looking for a corporate partner to provide job opportunities to their clients.  And giving someone a second chance can engender a lot of good will.

Also think about partnering with career coaches.  These coaches generally help candidates with career planning, resume building, and interviewing.  Often a company that’s going through a layoff, might engage a career coach to help the people who have been laid off, find new work.  And many times, these are highly skilled workers.

And finally, don’t overlook the option of build it don’t buy it.  You can partner with a school or university, and bring in less experienced people, who are perhaps just starting their careers.  That will give you a chance to thoroughly train them in your process and work style, without them having to unlearn any old bad habits.  Sure, it’s a bit more work, but it will yield a quality team member for your company.

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