Recessions are essentially a brilliant time for small to medium businesses. Not only are these firms lighter on their feet than large firms struggling to cope with massive overheads and commitments, but when it comes to hiring staff it really is a buyer’s market for small businesses. As redundancies soar and job centre queues lengthen, the number or experienced and talented individuals loitering around the scrapheap of unemployment grows daily. Arguably, small to medium firms need the best of the best when it comes to staff; none of us can afford to carry mediocre workers. The good news is there are plenty of them out there; the bad news is you may be spoilt for choice. So how do you find the crème de la crème from this pool of talent?
Job centres, Agencies and CV Matching
Unsurprisingly your local job centre is no bad place to start. The job centre offers a range of services to suit employers and it’s a good place to find individuals looking for work in your sector. Employment agencies and CV matching sites shouldn’t be ignored, especially if you are looking for a professional staff member in a specialised industry. The important message here is that sticking a “help wanted” sign in your window (virtual or not) and hiring the first person who walks through the door, should not be an approach to take. Given the current employment slump there will almost certainly be a highly talented individual out there who matches your requirements perfectly. Ensure you get the best spread of applicants you can.
Short Lists and Phone Interviews
Both the job centre and recruitment agencies should send the details of potential employees who are a fairly close match for your requirements – this saves some time on the selection process – but be prepared to study CVs and application forms carefully and come up with your own short list. A phone interview is a good idea to create a final list but you shouldn’t rely on phone interviews alone. Yes, they save time and resources, but new staff are a big investment and your business is worth the time you spend on getting the right guy or gal.
Should you hold second or third interviews? This depends to some extent on the size of your firm. If you run a medium sized company a two interview process should be seriously considered. The main reasons for this are that interview nerves may give you a poor impression of an excellent paper candidate; at second interview they may be more relaxed and be able to truly shine. In addition, the chance to let different existing staff assess candidates can be useful. However hard we try, interviewing can be a subjective process and a second pair of eyes and ears is never wasted.
Preparing for Staff
Where time and resources allow, it’s no bad idea to allow the final short listed candidates some time to visit the workplace and meet other staff. You aren’t the only part of the equation when it comes to getting the right member of staff and it can help the individual to be sure that they will fit in with existing staff. For the smallest of firms this may not be possible, but for medium sized firms it’s not a bad idea. If you do run the smallest of firms it’s important to consider some very specific issues before and during the recruitment process. Do you have payroll software installed and ready to go? Extra equipment, office furniture or clothing may be needed and these hidden costs are often overlooked. Preparation is the better part of valour in this case and having everything in place is essential before taking on your first (or an additional) member of staff.
Building for the Future
For small and medium firms there is a massive pool of talent available in these dark recessionary times and finding the right person from that pool can be an incredible investment in your firm’s future and your own. Taking on staff now is not only an exciting prospect, but it can be the start of a lasting, loyal relationship with an individual who will be willing to work with you for many years to come.
Simon blogs about small business success, covering everything from Intuit payroll software to how SME’s can better leverage social media. When he’s not online Simon enjoys paragliding, abseiling and occasionally throwing himself out of a plane.