Recruitment can seem like hard work. After hours of interviewing candidates it can be demoralising to find that you are still no closer to finding the right person for the job. Or, when finally you do, they slip through your grasp and chose another company. The good news is, there are ways for all small businesses to make the process much more positive and efficient, attract strong candidates and make it much more likely that they will chose you.
Clarity….Spend time writing a detailed and easy to understand job description. Be really clear on the role that you need to fill and the kind of person you need before you start recruiting. Don’t limit your candidate pool further by including skills and experience that really aren’t necessary for the role. Can the role, for example, really only be performed by a graduate or someone with perfect English (common defacto requirements in many job specs these days, but often probably far from necessary)?
This detail and clarity will avoid confusion and a potentially costly recruitment mistake later on. If this is not something you feel you have the skills to put together well yourself, then engage someone else to draft it for you. It’s the best investment you will make in the recruitment process.
Route to the best candidates….The best people are often not actively looking for another job. Advertise in professional journals/websites and networking groups and directly approach good people that you meet.
Consider if your role can be worked part-time, as a job share or flexibly (eg from home, term time only, school hours, etc) and, if it can, make a beeline for the fantastic and huge pool of parents who are keen to go back to work, but prevented from doing so by a lack the lack of flexibility on offer from many employers.
If you’re going to use an Executive Search or recruitment agency, use one that can show you that they really understand your business, its people, values and ethos as well as the industry. People are not commodities and a recruitment agent that puts quantity of candidates over quality are far less likely to find you the right person.
An insightful selection process… Consider the role you are recruiting for and the skills it requires. How can you test these skills in the recruitment process, other than in an interview (which, if not competency based, is statistically as effective as palm reading!)?
Consider asking candidates to prepare a presentation or submit relevant examples of their work. Be specific to the business and be fun. For example, if you are looking for a social media/digital marketing whizz, why not ask them to prepare a Vlog on the subject of your choice or submit their initial application in the form of a tweet…?
There are a growing number of businesses, often IT firms or those with very analytical roles, who are actively seeking out employees on the autism spectrum – a huge pool of untapped talent – as they are often ideally suited to these technical roles and hugely dedicated workers. If you think broadening your neurodiversity will work for you it is very important that you adapt the recruitment process to help bring out the best in the candidates. Perhaps forget the traditional interview altogether and replace it with a technical test or, as I understand one tech firm in the US has done, provide an activity such as building rockets out of lego that will really enable a candidate to demonstrate their technical ability.
Above all else, make sure that your recruitment and selection process (and your working culture as there is no point bringing in a brilliant candidate only for them to quickly leave) does not discriminate in any way, either directly or indirectly. As well as helping you to avoid any costly claims for discrimination, it will truly help you to find and bring on board the best candidates. Again, this is an area well worth seeking some help in if you are concerned that unconscious (or conscious!) bias is a risk in your staff involved in the process, or if any of your selection tools may put up barriers to some people getting through (for example, it is surprising how many companies still use ‘intelligence tests’ that, aside from often being founded on weak science, make it very difficult for people with dyslexia to pass).
Pay well for your industry… Some people truly believe you can hook good candidates ‘on the cheap’, but it is undoubtedly a false economy. You may strike it lucky and catch a strong candidate willing to accept a salary less than they are worth, but they will likely join you feeling demoralised and you may not retain them in the long term.
Be a brilliant employer and let it be known…Make your business attractive to employees and shout about it in your industry circles! Put in place the best benefits that you can afford and genuinely engage with flexible working and employee well-being. Create a warm and inclusive working culture where people really want to be.
Recruit for the future…. Map out your recruitment pool before you need to recruit. Do not be complacent and allow yourself to be taken by surprise when a key person leaves. Build people’s skills internally so that they can move into vacant positions. Consider how you can strengthen your business’s creativity, agility and decision making through developing a more diverse workforce. Develop good relationships with professional industry groups, local colleges and business schools and executive search firms. If you can, set up a good, paid summer internship, work experience or apprenticeship scheme and start to develop your future workforce now…
If you are struggling to recruit and would like some help to find the best candidates to join your team, then please do get in touch with Kate at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to talk through how we can help you.