People are the lifeblood of any business, but are particularly important for small businesses and start-ups, where every individual is a big fish in a small pond. In your business’s early stages, the right talent can catapult it to sky-high success, while the wrong hire could have an extraordinarily detrimental effect.
But recruitment is time-consuming, complex and often costly – as the recruitment agencies who pitch for your business will often tell you. So, how can you get it right?
Understand what you’re after
A common recruitment mistake is to come up with a list of absolute must-have skills and experiences that then automatically discounts fantastic talents who don’t tick every individual box. Think really long and hard about what you absolutely cannot compromise on – a technical skill that you cannot train in-house, for example – and be prepared to be flexible about everything else. In that way, you’ll be more open to candidates who bring something really special to the table, but don’t fit the cookie-cutter profile you imagined at the outset.
Likewise, make sure you have a clear understanding of the personality of your business. This is particularly important for SMEs, where cultural fit and the ability of individual team members to get on with each other is especially influential.
Perfect your pitch
Recruiting great people depends on attracting great people – and that depends on showcasing your business to the best possible effect. Anyone with an ounce of nous applying for a position at your organisation will do their research first – which means they will head online to start exploring your website, your social media platforms and any online PR about your business. All of these aspects of your online presence should be polished, up to date (and regularly refreshed), and give an accurate and exciting representation of what it is actually like to work for you.
Small businesses are unlikely to merit an extensive ‘careers’ section on their websites, but simple ‘meet the team’ features or stories about how the business came to be set up can still give a great flavour of what it is like to work for you.
Be proactive, not passive
Simply drafting a job advert, placing it on your website and perhaps in a relevant industry publication or two is, these days, a highly passive means of recruiting. Sure, great talent might stumble across you – but in the noisy world of the internet, you’re likely to never be seen by huge swathes of the talent pool out there. This strategy also completely ignores the vast majority of people, who aren’t actively looking for a new position, but could certainly be interested in moving on for the right offer.
If you’re serious about pulling in the best people to join your team, then you need to be proactive. You need to actively seek out the people who have the skills, the experience and the aptitude to be a great fit for your team. Fortunately, there are myriad places in which to undertake your search. LinkedIn is still the main online channel for professional recruiters – you may wish to pay for temporary access to premium services so that you can approach individuals you are not connected to. Depending on your industry, other social networking and online sources, such as Twitter and industry-specific forums may be useful too. And don’t forget about good old-fashioned face-to-face networking events.
It’s vital to be realistic about salary expectations. Very few people will move to a position they view as underpaid simply because the job, or the company, excites them. And, when your business is in its early stages, it can be difficult to get an accurate understanding of the market rates for the position you’re trying to fill. So, do your research. Scour similar job adverts. Speak to candidates openly about their current salaries and what they are looking for. You might even choose to speak to recruiters with experience in your area to get an accurate picture of going rates.