Small business advice: How to establish a recruiting process and develop a culture


Sheth says small business owners must do more than simply post “help wanted” and “now hiring” signs if they want to compete for top talent. (LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS)
January 29

Most start-up and small business owners would agree that finding good people for a growing operation is among their top challenges. And many entrepreneurs spend a lot of time on recruiting, especially after they have hired others to keep the lights on.

While filling initial core positions, small business owners are often in such a hurry that setting up a process to manage hiring on an ongoing basis is the last priority, and as a result, they somtimes skip over “rockstar” resumes in order to get interviews done quickly.

However, proceeding without a recruiting process can lead employers to miss great candidates and potentially portray an unaligned company culture. Defining what a company aims to build is more important than posting a bunch of help wanted ads.

Here are a few important tips to help your company establish a recruiting process, which can be a critical element to building the type of team you seek:

Define who you are: Instead of describing skills and experience for a sales or developer role, start every job description by stating what your company does and why. This is the starting point in defining what type of people a company aims to attract. Ultimately, hiring managers should want folks who share the organization’s mission, vision, and approach rather than providing one or two skillsets that match the description.

Study larger, successful competitors: Whether they are in the same industry or not, if an organization admires certain teams, it should observe that company’s hiring process. There is always a good reason why multiple talented people gravitate toward a brand or company. So while a brand can be hard to define, studying the ideal role may influence and shape a company’s hiring and recruiting process.

Create a workflow: Consider a hiring program or an app that best suits your organization, and ensure that all openings stem from this place and all applications land here. Even though some applicants may not fit the current situation, keeping the person’s information on file may come in handy later. So, classify prospects correctly and make sure the hiring team can go through each application that comes in.

Engage candidates beyond the role: Instead of only placing an “apply” button on every opening on the careers page, why not have an “I am Interested” button? Giving candidates an opportunity to simply stay in touch is a lot less taxing, especially if they are not looking to leave their current job today. Organizations can also share updates about the company through email or Twitter, further engaging candidates.

Replicate internal success: The efforts put into marketing products and tracking conversions equal the efforts needed in recruiting. If an organization achieves a systemized workflow and keeps applications flowing to its applicant tracking system, it can easily deduce which sources generated great applications. Was it a specific marketing campaign on Twitter? Was it a niche job board where the ideal audience hangs out?

Referral program: This tactic remains the most used and the most effective. An organization’s team knows the company culture better than any external recruiter or Web site. Make it easy for them to refer folks that they think would fit the organization’s vision and direction.

In large companies, referrals generally account for between 25 and 35 percent of hires. In a start-up, aim to have that number be 50 percent. And the process should not be limited to publishing links on friends’ social profiles — there should be a universal way for employees to submit a deserving candidate.

Growing a company requires organization and skilled insight, and while creating a recruiting and hiring process seems daunting, a few simple tips can put small businesses and start-ups on the right track. By incorporating a systematic approach, expanding a small business can prove exciting and prosperous instead of dreadful and ailing.

Raj Sheth is the co-founder of Recruiterbox, an online recruitment software designed for growing companies based in Westborough, Mass.

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