Many companies across the United States are facing what is known as the “Great Resignation”. The pandemic has given employees a different perspective on what they want from their working life. With so many people leaving their previous jobs, it means that many companies are desperate to hire staff.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported there were 11.5 million job openings on the last business day of March, representing a major opportunity for job seekers and employers to find the right person. So how can small businesses get the best results when looking to recruit new people?
Simply business has compiled recruiting tips for small businesses, focusing on everything from interview hacks to perfecting job descriptions. Jennifer Perrow, business growth strategist at Perrow Advisory Services, relies on this advice. As a business coach and consultant, Perrow is called upon by small business owners and their management teams to focus on growing the business. “A lot of times that involves identifying, attracting and retaining the right team members,” Perrow said. A strategy she suggests for starting a search for candidates: “Like most things in business, it’s important to know your objective, follow a process and have the right systems in place to ensure success.”
Read on to learn more about these six essential tips for small businesses ready to recruit new employees.
Invest in writing detailed job descriptions
Small businesses ready to publicize a job posting will look to place information on job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter. One thing to know before listing a position is that a job posting and a job description are two different things.
“A job description is more technical and focuses on the responsibilities of the role and the requirements a candidate must have,” Perrow said. “A job posting takes the same information, but presents it in a way that speaks to the person you want to hire, making them aware of your company’s culture, values, and mission.”
Describing the company culture lets candidates know if the company they are considering shares the same values and if they have the same expectations of the job responsibilities. When looking to make a good impression through a job posting, companies should avoid falling into the trap of keyword stuffing and only providing bullet points. Daily Business News recommends the following: a two-sentence opening pitch about the company, two bulleted lists of responsibilities and requirements, and a one-sentence call-to-action to complete an application.
Leverage referrals, social media and prospecting to build a pool of candidates
Standing out in a competitive job market is imperative when recruiting. “Attracting the right talent to your small business is very similar to attracting the right customers to your business,” Perrow said. “Companies need to reach out and talk to people so that their position is elevated above the noise.”
Most companies already have resources in place, but may not be using them properly. These arsenals can include the company’s website, social media, networking, and employee referrals. “Focus on your relationships, as well as connecting with people through networking and on different social media platforms,” Perrow said.
An updated business website can make a huge difference. How the website presents your business through voice, culture, and values is key. Social media presences on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and even TikTok have also become essential in building brands and businesses. Regular posts with photos of the work environment, videos that provide insight into the company, and hosted live chats are great ways to educate and connect with the public and potential hires.
Build an applicant tracking and tracking system
Something to put in place at the start of recruiting for a role: a streamlined, watertight timeline and process. This will serve as a blueprint to follow when meeting with candidates. Whatever form works best for your business (spreadsheet, project management software, checklists, calendars), having a process in place ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.
Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS, are also a preferred way of communicating with other team members. “Hiring isn’t a one-person job,” Perrow said. “The recruiter is the person responsible for overseeing the entire process, but information and insights need to be shared with everyone from the hiring manager to payroll.”
As useful as they may be, tracking systems, especially automated screening tools, can be detrimental when evaluating candidates. Programs using ATS have been shown to reject candidates who do not exactly match the information entered by recruiters. Some biases of ATS-led programs have even led to racial and gender stereotypes, unfairly filtering candidates based on “high results”. Automated systems rely more on processes already in place, and when a process has been plagued by discrimination for generations, it is difficult to create a system free of this bias. To combat this, remember not to rely solely on programs with ATS and read the resumes yourself.
Know the questions you can and cannot ask in interviews
In the United States, discrimination in the workplace is illegal with respect to race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy ), marital status, age, national origin or disability. In some states, it is also illegal to inquire about salary history.
Employers may have certain information they need to get from interviewees, but getting that information can mean navigating problematic questions. For example, asking, “Do you plan to have children soon?” may place applicants in a position where they feel that their marital status or personal family goals will be perceived as a barrier to being offered a position. What the hiring manager may be trying to learn could be addressed with this question: “Are you willing and able to work overtime? Are you willing to travel for work?” This gives candidates, even those who have children or who have plans for children, a fair opportunity to discuss their availability without any involvement of the recruiter.
“It’s important not just for human resources, but for anyone in the company who conducts interviews,” Perrow said. “While the interviewer may be trying to get to know the candidate, they should always provide a level playing field and do not want candidates to feel uncomfortable. It is important to be aware that some questions may be perceived as hostile or negative.
Set up referral calls (and dig into the right areas of interest)
As you get closer to hiring a candidate, checking references can be part of your company’s process. A benchmark can provide insight into a candidate’s past performance and is often a good predictor of future performance.
When calling for references, be specific about the job and what the role will require. Establish the relationship between the candidate and the reference. Can the reference really speak to the skills and past performance of the candidate? How were this person’s teamwork, leadership and communication skills? Essentially, “you want to use a reference check to verify that the person is who they say they are,” Perrow said. “People can paint a picture and be very different from that representation.”
Some company policies do not allow references to be given. In this case, ask for confirmation by saying something like “Did Joe work for your company between these dates?” Or research other sources of information, such as LinkedIn profile references and professional associations the potential candidate might be a member of.
Once you’ve hired someone, focus on onboarding and retention
The ideal candidate has signed. Excitement swells around new projects to tackle together. But first, there’s the all-important step of bringing a new employee into the fold. It starts before they walk through the office doors. Communication leading up to the first day of new hire should be consistent, informative and welcoming.
When the employee makes the first entry, don’t bombard the new employee with paperwork and minutia. Instead, settle in the new person and make yourself comfortable. “Onboarding is key, it’s your first impression,” Perrow said. “You’ve spent all that time, energy and money finding that perfect recruit, now is the time to groom them and yourself for success.”
This story originally appeared on Simply business and was produced and distributed in partnership with Stacker Studio.