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How to recruit staff for your small business


With limited time and resources, recruiting staff in a small business is challenging.

While recruitment agencies offer comprehensive end-to-end management of the process, for small businesses price can often be an issue.

For any business, the most valuable asset is its people. Poor recruitment can result in miss-hires, costing in excess of ten times the candidate’s annual salary. In a competitive environment, as a small business, this loss would devastate your bottom line.

Some practical tips on recruiting staff for your small business

1. Write a stellar product description

Penning an accurate product description (PD) is the first step in establishing a successful relationship with your new employee.

The PD ensures both parties, from the onset, are aligned regarding the expectations of the position.

It also offers the added benefit of helping you to clarify your own objectives for the role.

2. Write and post your job advertisement

A well-written job advertisement posted in the right places is essential for attracting a qualified pool of candidates.

Your ad’s not the same as your PD; it’s a marketing tool to capture candidates’ attention.

Once you’ve written the ad it should be posted on online job boards and networking sites for maximum return.

3. Phone screening

Good phone screening is a huge time saver. Sort CVs based on which candidates match you role and phone screen the top-ranking candidates.

Start with ‘show-stopping’ questions like salary expectations and location preference – this will help you to avoid lengthy conversations with candidates you ultimately can’t hire.

Don’t book face-to-face meetings until you’ve phone screened all short-listed candidates. Call back only the highest scoring candidates for the next stage.

4. Face-to-face interviews

For the best results from your face-to-face interviews, you’ll need to do some groundwork.

Give yourself at least an hour for each interview and another 20 minutes for writing notes. The meeting should include a balance of selling the opportunity and your organisation, and interviewing the candidate.

Use behavioural descriptive questions throughout the interview; these often start with ‘Give me an example of a time when…’

5. Reference checking

Reference checking is about making educated hiring decisions. Hiring an employee has an immediate and ongoing impact on your business, therefore thorough due diligence is required.

Ask candidates for two referees and three points of contact for each. Once you’ve done two successful reference checks, you can move to offer.

6. Offer and employment contract

If you have two candidates in the running, make a verbal offer to your preferred person and don’t inform the second until you have a signed contract from the first.

If the preferred candidate asks for more time to decide, no more than two days is reasonable.

Ensure an employment contract is produced swiftly after receiving a verbal acceptance as your candidate will not resign from their current employment until he/she has something in writing.

How to Recruit Staff is an online resource assisting small business owners to conduct a thorough and professional recruitment process. The free instructional videos and paid-for templates offer advice and guidelines on hiring staff, allowing small businesses to confidently take steps to recruit quality people.

Rebecca Wallace, Founder of www.howtorecruitstaff.com.au and a recruitment industry thought leader, is business owner and Managing Director of Launch, one of Australia’s leading recruitment and HR solutions firms.