Hiring SME employees the smart way

The smaller your business, the more each individual matters – which is why intelligent recruitment for small business owners is a subject worth thinking about.

Every new person you hire represents a significant percentage increase in your workforce and expertise, so make the most of the human capital at your disposal.

Don’t leave people out in the cold just because you’ve never had to share responsibility before – with a good team under you, you can delegate important tasks to the people most suited to them, and free up your own valuable time to focus on your company’s next phase of growth.

Finding candidates

How do companies like yours normally recruit people? You probably know who your biggest local rivals are (if not, find out) so try to find out where they advertise their job vacancies.

The possibilities these days are much more diverse than in previous decades, as you could post job advertisements anywhere from the back of the local newspaper to online social networks.

Of course there are also recruitment agencies to consider – you might end up paying a premium for people you hire this way, but in a competitive industry it’s a good way to find talent.

Smart interview techniques

Try to avoid the same old cliched questions like “what is your biggest fault” and “where do you see yourself in five years’ time” – candidates are tired of answering them, and a rehearsed stock response doesn’t tell you much about the individual anyway.

Instead, try to probe the more interesting and personal parts of the person’s CV, get them talking about a subject they feel passionate about, whether it’s travel, or music, or just their passion for the job.

You’ll usually be able to tell when someone is just saying what they think you want to hear, but anyone who is prepared to talk freely shows independence and confidence, which can be good assets in any business.

Diversity of candidates

Employers often get accused of harbouring prejudices or unfairly favouring a particular type of applicant, and while this is of course not always the case, it’s worth having a policy in place when it comes to hiring diversity.

This isn’t just about political correctness though – a truly diverse workplace helps everyone to feel equally valued and encourages ideas from people who might normally not feel comfortable in speaking up.

And as you grow, it helps you to show to any critics that you cannot be accused of unfair hiring processes – just be careful that you don’t let your desire for diversity lead to you missing out on talented individuals just because they don’t fall into a minority group.

Pay your way

Know the typical salary for the job you are recruiting for, and make sure to at least match it if you want to get a candidate who is of at least average capability.

It’s not always true that paying more gets you a better calibre of applicant – some people will try their luck and apply for positions far more senior than they are really ready for – but it’s certainly not a bad way to start.

If your budget is quite tight in cash terms, consider whether there are any other benefits you could offer that will effectively make it a better deal for the candidate, for example flexible working conditions, performance-related bonuses or even the promise of more time off at Christmas.

Hire from within

You don’t always need to recruit someone new from outside the company if you have a role to fill – sometimes, although not always, you might find someone who already works for you is ready to step into that role, or that together you can share out the tasks and handle it quite well within the existing team.

It’s important to talk to your staff and understand who is ambitious, who would be willing to take on more duties in order to build their experience, and who might put in the extra hours for some paid overtime that could save you compared to the cost of hiring an extra member of staff.

Generally speaking, it’s much easier and less costly to promote someone than it is to recruit someone – you don’t have to pay recruitment agency fees, you don’t have an extra person’s salary to pay and you don’t have to spend time and money on training and orientation – so in some cases the smartest way to recruit is not to recruit at all.