By: Roberta Chinsky Matuson
Talent acquisition is critical for business success, especially in a down economy when plenty of candidates may be available, but few to none with the skills you need. This is particularly true for small businesses, where making new hires count can impact the entire organization.
Small business owners can recruit great hires in a down economy with the right hiring process in place. Here are some tips to guide your talent acquisition process.
Clarify your hiring needs before you begin Ask any business owner what they want in their next new hire and most will respond by telling you what they don’t want. To successfully recruit new hires, you must define what a great hire looks like for your organization.
For example, an employee who is extremely detail-oriented may be the perfect fit for an accounting job where clients expect a high level of accuracy from their service firms.
However, will this trait actually be a detriment to your hiring process if the goal of your talent acquisition is to hire top sales people? Most likely yes, as most successful sales professionals are onto the next sale before the details of the last deal are ironed out.
Analyze the behaviors of your top performers who are most successful in your organization and then describe the traits they possess. Do you see a pattern? Are your most successful people self-motivated, strong team players, customer-focused? Look for similar traits in your next hire.
Seek talent where no one else is looking Even though we are still experiencing a high rate of unemployment, there are still many jobs going unfilled because of worker shortages in those fields. Many firms have made a conscious decision to hire only people who are employed. That’s good news for the small business owner who can leverage this short-sighted approach and hire the best talent available, regardless of their current employment status.
Many great hires may be back in the job market due to circumstances out of their control. They may have been victims of a merger or a plant closing, or their retirement nest eggs may have cracked with the stress of the volatile stock market. These people are willing and able to begin work tomorrow.
Some have successfully navigated their companies through previous recessions -- people who can help your organization steer clear of land minds that may be in front of you. They are also quite happy to have a job and provide employee loyalty to those who give them a fair chance.
Seek value Evaluate candidates in terms of the value they can bring to your organization. Someone with a few years of experience, who has implemented systems that have resulted in business growth, is much valuable than a candidate with more longevity on the job.
Ask interview questions that dig for specific examples of how they have helped previous employers reduce costs and grow revenues. Then dig beneath the surface with interview questions to ascertain if they can do the same for your business.
Be decisive Thinking that a better candidate will come along when you have a terrific hire in front of you will result in loss of an excellent prospect. The order in which candidates come in to interview has nothing to do with whether or not they are the right hire for you. Go back to the list of traits you are seeking and when the right candidate comes along, be prepared to close the deal, and do so quickly.
Do your homework upfront Research compensation information beforehand. This way you’ll know up front what you can and cannot afford to pay. For example, ideally you may want an experienced candidate with ten years of experience.
However, your research shows that you will have to pay 40 percent more than what you have budgeted. It makes no sense to waste your time or the candidate’s time recruiting overqualified candidates who are out of your league.
Involve your team It’s easy to fall in love with a candidate, especially if hiring someone this week means you can join your family on vacation. Remember -- love is blind. Select a few people in the organization whose judgment you value and do a post-game review of candidates. Be open to their feedback and use this information when making the final hiring decision.
Stay the course Hiring doesn’t usually the top of the list of fun things to do for small businesses, unless of course they are in the business of recruitment. Most will do whatever it takes to make sure this process ends quickly, including hiring friends or family.
This approach often results in hiring decisions that have long-term negative consequences. Be patient. Consider hiring temporary help until such time as you can find the right person for the job. Your patience will pay off and in the end, you will be thankful that you found a great hire who could turn out to be the best employee you’ve ever had.
©2011 Human Resource Solutions. All rights reserved.
Roberta Chinsky Matuson is the President of Human Resource Solutions and author of the highly-acclaimed book Suddenly in Charge: Managing Up, Managing Down, Succeeding All Around, a Washington Post Top-5 Leadership pick. Sign up to receive a complimentary subscription to Roberta's monthly newsletter, HR Matters.