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SME Looking to Hire? Here are 5 Things That Could go Wrong!

SME Looking to Hire? Here are 5 Things That Could go Wrong!

By: Meryvn Dinnen, Contributing Writer

The market is picking up. There is growth in the economy and, according to recent reports and forecasts from the REC, a big upturn in recruiting, indicating that there could soon be a fairly fluid labour market.

Great if you've got dedicated in-house resource and a healthy budget, with a fully integrated employer branding and talent attraction campaign. But what if you're an SME or smaller business looking for one or two key new hires? You need the people, but where do you start?

It helps to have a plan, and for that you need to know what the pain points are likely to be, where it could all go wrong. Here are the top 5 to get your thinking started…

Do You Know What You're Looking For?

Let's start at the beginning by asking some questions. Why do you need someone? What activities do you need them to do? What can a new hire do that your existing workforce can't?

It's important to establish from the outset that you do have a real need to grow your staff. After all, nothing unsettles a stable team more than bringing in someone who isn't a good fit and doesn't stay very long. You need a clear idea of what a new employee will be doing. It will help send out a clear message when you start the process and also help to manage expectations for those that you identify for interview.

And never overlook what you already have. There will probably be someone sitting in your business right now who, with the right support and training, could easily move in to the new, more challenging role that you're looking to fill.

Managing Cost and Time

Hiring new staff can take a lot of time and money – both things that are in short supply for busy small businesses. Whether you are advertising digitally or in print media, or briefing a recruitment agency, you need the widest exposure for your investment and the time to undertake a full recruitment process. That will include:

  1. Drawing up an accurate job description
  2. Benchmarking to ensure that you're offering an attractive compensation package
  3. Writing a job advert that inspires people to apply 
  4. A proper CV search and review of all applications (probably wading through hundreds of CVs)
  5. Shortlisting
  6. 2 or 3 rounds of interviewing and assessment
  7. The offer stage (don't assume that your first choice will automatically accept)
  8. Follow through to ensure the person you offer has accepted and resigned
  9. Putting in place, and carrying out, proper on boarding procedures (if something's going to go wrong it will probably do so in the first 3 months)

Make sure you have sufficient time to do all of this thoroughly as one business area in which you really can't afford shortcuts is recruitment. A poorly executed, or poorly budgeted, hiring process is likely to lead to a poor hire.

Where to look?

Job boards, aggregators, CV database, print media, social media, word of mouth or recruitment agency? So many places, so little time and budget. Much will depend on the skill sets you are looking for and how much capacity you have to conduct a proper search. 

A specialist agency may know where the talent is, but there could be a large cost involved. Alternatively advertising on a digital site will bring in a wide range and level of applicants who appear to have the right experience, but you need to search effectively through the CVs to get the right people. And using social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn depend on your business, and your employees, having large enough networks to make sure that your jobs are seen by the widest audience.

It pays to take advice from others who have been through the process, maybe speak to commercial partners or similar businesses as your own to find out where they have had success.

Employer Brand

Does anyone know what your company is like to work for? What values and principles bind your workforce together and encourage the behaviours and efforts that lead to a great customer service?

You need to make sure that interested candidates can find out. The most obvious route is to use social media channels (remember many of your applicants will be googling your name to find online mentions of the employment experience) and allowing your existing staff the space to talk about how great you are to work for. 

Forget your mission statement (no-one believes them anyway) and focus on how your business goes about achieving its results, looking at ways in which you can make this visible. A simple video of employees talking realistically and passionately about your values will do more for your attractiveness as an employer than a copy written web page extolling your vision.

Candidate Experience

There will probably be a multitude of CVs winging your way once you go public with your hiring needs. Each one has been sent by a person who is looking for a new job and has probably put a lot of time and effort in to researching your company and personalising their application. As a bare minimum they need to be acknowledged.

The 'candidate experience' doesn't just apply to the applicants who you want to interview, but to everyone that shows interest in your company. They are all consumers who are in a position to make decisions on your offering based on how they are treated when they want to work for you. They may know good people who could be referred, they may have an active social media profile with many followers who they influence, or they may even know someone who already works for you.

They are always in a position to go public with their dissatisfaction so make sure that you have a process in place to communicate effectively and manage the candidate relationship. You need to be prepared to:

  1. Acknowledge receipt
  2. Give an indication of time frame
  3. Let them know promptly if they are of interest to you
  4. Let them know promptly if they are not of interest to you
  5. Provide feedback on their application if they ask personally
  6. Give those you call in for interview some insight in to they process and what will be expected of them
  7. Give prompt interview feedback (no 'if you don't hear within 2 weeks you are unsuccessful' messages)
  8. Be prepared to give interview feedback to everyone whether they are successful or not
  9. Make sure that the offer stage and salary negotiations are speedy and amicable with positive intent…you don't want to lose someone in the final strait 

It may be hard to do all of these, but with each applicant being a potential customer or source of business you need to cover as many as you can.

Hiring the right people is one of the key ingredients for business success. There are many potential slip ups along the way though so it pays to plan and be prepared.

Author Bio

Mervyn Dinnen is an award winning blogger and a content & social engagement strategist. He specialises in the Recruitment and HR sectors and is a regular speaker and panellist at industry conferences.