Hiring the right employees can help your small business grow revenue, take your company in new directions and even make work more enjoyable.
However, making a hiring mistake can be costly. It involves expenses associated with hiring, onboarding, training and compensation, and making too many wrong moves can interrupt cash flow, curtail business growth and cause unnecessary strain on other employees.
The Society for Human Resource Management reported that the average cost per hire was almost $4,700. But when you take into account other factors, such as training and lost productivity, the cost of a bad hire can be much higher. Building relationships, engaging in open communication and providing transparency can significantly increase the chances that you’ll retain an employee.
Whether you’re looking for in-office or remote workers, here are some of the do’s and don’ts of hiring.
Hiring tips for small businesses
To ensure you hire the employees who will best fit the role and your organization, make sure to keep these tips in mind.
1. Don’t rush.
Like other aspects of running a business, hiring all comes down to planning. If you’re desperate and feel you have to hire the first candidate you see, you’re unlikely to get the best person for the job.
Instead, give yourself time to create a hiring plan. This technique will help you proceed methodically, allowing you to get to know people and attract the type of candidates who appreciate order and organization.
2. Think hard about your needs.
Writing a job description is one of the most critical phases of the hiring process. It’s your chance to dig deep and think about what you and your business need before you put it to paper. Spend some time examining your own strengths and weaknesses and figuring out where and how someone else will be able to fill in the gaps.
Imagine what the person’s day would look like and how their position will change your workload. For instance, it may turn out that hiring an independent contractor or freelancer could be a solution for certain tasks, which would allow you to outsource projects periodically. Or, after reviewing the factors recommended above, you may recognize that you need a full-time employee who can handle various tasks.
3. Understand and identify what’s really important.
A great employee should have a good balance of professional skills, motivation, attitude and learning ability. Skills are easy to measure, but the other elements are also important. In some cases, a candidate who has slightly less experience but is enthusiastic and eager to learn on the job may be a better choice than an unreliable expert.
4. Know what you have to offer.
If you can’t afford to pay the highest salaries on the market, think about other ways you can attract the best employees. If you’re a small business, you may be able to offer better learning opportunities or flexibility than a large firm can.
Maybe you’re located conveniently in a neighborhood without many other employment options, which could make employment with your business more convenient and strengthen your roots within your local community. Think about your company’s advantages, and recruit accordingly.
5. Think outside the box.
Diversity in recruiting is crucial and beneficial for businesses. However, traditional hiring practices often leave out some highly talented people simply because they might not fit the traditional image of a particular profession. For example, you may find great people who were overlooked because they didn’t go to big-name schools or can’t work standard hours due to family obligations.
Other candidates may have personalities that don’t fit the stereotypical image of the role. For instance, you may think a good salesperson is gregarious and bold, but someone with a slightly different approach may achieve fantastic sales by being approachable and listening attentively. Go beyond your preconceptions to find people with unique skills and potential.
6. Ask specific questions.
Go beyond the classic “Tell me about yourself.” Instead, ask specific but open-ended interview questions.
For instance, try asking people about projects they’ve worked on, and have them tell you what they liked and disliked about each one. These answers will help you understand the person’s strengths and the kinds of environments in which they’re likely to thrive.
7. Don’t take their word for it.
You don’t have to run a formal background check these days to get some idea of who your candidate is outside the interview room. Besides calling references, doing a simple Google search can go a long way. It won’t reveal everything, but it can help verify what’s on their resume and may raise some red flags.
Use one of the top background check services to ensure there aren’t any red flags. Using these services ensures you are going about the process correctly and legally.
8. Don’t assume candidates will accept your job offer.
Candidates always have the option to turn you down. Therefore, you need to impress your candidates just as much as they need to impress you. Be friendly and considerate of their time throughout your recruiting process.
In the interview, provide information about the job, and give your interviewee a chance to ask questions. Remember that the questions you ask also send messages to candidates. For example, even for someone with no family responsibilities, asking (possibly illegal) questions about their home life may hint that you don’t know how to support a healthy work-life balance.
According to the Q1 2022 CNBC|SurveyMonkey Small Business Confidence Survey, 29% of small business owners have open positions without applications for three months or more.
9. Reject wisely.
In the small business world, news travels fast. It’s perfectly fine to reject most candidates, but it will reflect well on your business to make sure to be courteous and appreciate the time the potential candidates invested.
It’s not polite to disappear once you’ve ruled out a candidate. Instead, take the time to send a basic thank-you email, and let the other candidates know you’ve filled the position. In this case, an email is acceptable.
If you liked the candidate, you could even tell them you’ll keep their application on file. Then, even if they don’t have the skills you need now, it could save you time later when you need someone with their particular experience.
10. Don’t hire more than necessary.
Make a solid effort to retain your best employees by ensuring they feel appreciated and giving them room to grow in their positions. There are many ways to develop and retain employees, so find some that work for you. Employee loyalty is a priceless commodity you won’t find on a resume.
Do’s and don’ts of hiring remote workers
The popularity of remote work has grown, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some best practices to follow and mistakes to avoid when you’re hiring remote employees:
Do have an online presence.
If you are a small business, building an online presence is essential for hiring remote employees. Remote candidates can live across the globe, but if they have trouble finding information about your business, they may not apply.
Provide information about you, your company and your business’s mission on your company’s website, social media profiles and other relevant channels. Make sure to offer a straightforward way to contact your company.
Frequently check to ensure you have a positive score on Google reviews and Glassdoor. In addition, keep your social media accounts current and your brand identity consistent.
Do be intentional about where you look for candidates.
Even though you may be tempted to post your job opening on as many sites as possible so you can fill the position quickly, this strategy will require you to sift through many unqualified candidates, ultimately costing you time and money.
Using sites such as LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed and Upwork can help you find authentic applicants who have experience and the specific skills you require. Use filters to narrow candidates by geographic location, certifications or available hours.
Do introduce yourself in person or through an online video.
All companies want to find the most qualified candidate for the position. The best way to make an excellent first impression is to provide a video introducing yourself, the company and the company’s mission.
This way, the potential candidate can use the information to tailor their resume and may connect to your company by replying in video form. An introductory video can even generate excitement about the position.
Do offer unique benefits.
Workers choose remote positions to have a flexible schedule, save on costs and increase productivity. However, that doesn’t mean you can treat a remote worker like a contractor.
If the remote worker is a vital part of your team, you will need to offer the same benefits as a worker with a desk at the office. Provide the employee with health insurance, vacation benefits, and hourly or salary increases. It’s possible to have just as much turnover from remote workers as in-office ones.
Don’t ask them to complete tasks outside of the job description.
Especially if someone is new to remote work, it can be easy to take advantage of them. For example, remote workers might not be aware of job description boundaries or know that they don’t have to be on call 24/7.
Be transparent and upfront with the remote worker’s responsibilities. If roles change or you need the employee to be flexible in a particular skill area, have a conversation with them to make sure they are on the same page. When a remote worker feels their job crosses a boundary, they should be free to express their concerns with their managers and employers.
Communication is an essential piece of remote work, and the amount of communication a remote worker receives can make or break an employee-to-employer relationship. Answer the following questions during the interview process:
- What time zone are employees accountable for?
- Are all hours remote, or will there be required trips to the office?
- How flexible are the hours?
- How many meetings will there be, and will they be remote or in person?
- Does the company pay for in-person meetings or retreats?
- Will the position stay remote, or will it change to an in-person position?
Not properly compensating your remote employees for work-related expenses such as monthly internet costs, phone bills, a personal computer and daily office supplies could trigger a lawsuit. Companies such as Amazon and Wells Fargo are currently facing lawsuits for skimping on remote worker costs.
Don’t dismiss candidates who have nontraditional resumes.
Don’t immediately pass up candidates who didn’t go to college or who don’t have all of the requested skills. Instead, if the role allows, consider adding team members with a lot of real-world experience, unique characteristics or high-profile internships.
Don’t compromise company culture.
When you’re deciding on a candidate, a remote worker should be given the same treatment as an in-office worker. Just because they are working remotely doesn’t mean their soft skills shouldn’t be considered.
Ask your current team members to recommend remote workers who would be a good match for your company culture. Team members can be compensated for referring quality candidates or invited as part of a virtual or in-person interview process.
Julie Thompson contributed to the writing and reporting in this article.