Hiring is one of the most critical, and difficult, tasks for many small business owners. You may wind up with an urgent need to fill a position, but you don’t want to just hire anyone — finding the best possible person is critical. Still, how do you find that person, and still have time to run your business?
Here are the four key steps to making the best hires as a small business owner.
1. Write a Killer Job Description
Paying attention to this step will save you enormous amounts of time and energy down the line. If you know what you need, you’ll have a much easier time finding it.
The secret to a great job description? Know exactly what the job is, and every duty that will be involved in it. If possible, try putting yourself in the role for a day or two; this exercise will give you insight into the responsibilities and skills that a successful candidate will need.
Clarify the role, the requirements, the responsibilities, and which skills matter most in your business. Some skill requirements may be rudimentary, while others may require a mastery-level capability. Knowing that difference, and keeping track of it, allows you to open up the applicant field and to slice through it with extreme accuracy.
Above all, avoid generalities or vague descriptors. “Capable office manager” is too general, even if you add the requisite skills such as “proficient in Excel” and “good team player.” Get even more detailed than you think necessary, and vary from the norm when necessary. Your business is unique, so you may not be served by the typical job description for an office manager or technician.
2. Position the Job as You Would a Sales Pitch
Business adviser Evan Horowitz recommends putting a lot of thought into how you describe the job you’re hiring for. Your goal should be more than just to recruit, but to convey your business as an engaging brand with a clear mission. The language you use during recruiting is marketing for your business, and you want to hire the applicants who get, and love, what your business is all about.
During the recruiting process, be sure to share the background and personality of your business, your company mission, the personal and professional challenges you’ve overcome, the company culture, and any other details that communicate the unique and powerful role your business plays in the community or marketplace.
3. Conduct a Thorough Screening Process
Don’t wait until 15 minutes before the interview to begin the screening process.
Before you even begin looking through resumes, create a list of questions to determine who gets an interview and who doesn’t. Screening criteria might include a personality test and assessments of leadership traits. Or you can screen for a particular type of experience, educational background, or creative work history (all of which you should list in your job description, so applicants who possess them will know to apply).
You might consider asking all applicants to complete a screening questionnaire that tests certain personality traits. The easiest way to do this is to set up an online multiple-choice test for applicants to complete when sending in their resumes.
For some positions, you’ll have enough information to move directly to the interview process at this point. For others, you may want to give a standardized test for specific knowledge. Know what you need to have happen next in the process, and have it ready. And be sure to let your applicants know what’s coming once they’ve passed each step. You don’t want to frustrate people during their job search.
4. If Possible, Set a Trial Period
When you’re confident you’ve found the perfect applicant, make an offer sooner rather than later — the best candidates are typically in higher demand. Still, it’s a good idea, if possible, to bring the person in for a trial period. After all, no matter how well you screen and interview, there’s no way to know for sure how an applicant will perform until you see him/her in action.
For the job roles in which it’s possible, an initial trial period can help both you and the new hire ensure the new job is a fit. “Two weeks is enough time to see your new hire in action,” says Horowitz. “It’s also enough time to have given them feedback, or teach them new skills, and see how well they learn.”
The hiring process is vital for small business owners, since a poor hire can affect a small team in countless negative ways. Likewise, using tactics to hire smarter will bring you new hires who are passionate about your business, and eager to build it with you.