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How to hire employees for small business

For a small business, hiring your first employee can seem like a daunting task. Even if you already have staff and you’re simply looking to add talent to your team, the recruitment process can sometimes seem complex and time consuming. Luckily, there are a few small business hiring tips that you can follow to make sure that you find the employees that are right for your business.

Follow the advice in this guide to help make your business’s recruitment process easy and efficient.

Identifying the business need

Before you do anything else, it can be beneficial to sit down and properly identify the need for a new member of staff within your business. Not only does this make it easier to identify the type of employee that you’re looking for, but getting a clear idea of what your business needs can make it easier to spot the right skills and qualities in candidates down the line.

Types of employee

There are different ‘types’ of employee that are suitable for different types of work. As such, the nature of the role that you want to hire for – as well as the nature of your business need – will influence the type of employee you target. Some of the different types of worker that you could hire include:

  • Full time – a permanent employee working around 38 hours per week
  • Part time – a permanent employee working fewer than 38 hours per week
  • Casual – a worker with no set or guaranteed hours of work, usually earn a higher rate of pay
  • Freelancer – usually work for themselves and are hired by other businesses on both short and long term bases
  • Volunteers – unpaid workers, either full or part time, permanent or temporary.

By taking the time to consider your business’s need for a new employee – and the type of worker that can fulfil that need – you can begin to build a profile of the person that you want to hire. For instance, you may find that the work your business needs doing doesn’t require a full time employee, but can be undertaken by a freelancer or casual worker instead.

Tip: remember that no matter which type of employee you hire, you will legally need to take out an employers’ liability insurance policy.

It’s important that you clearly define this employee profile, in order to ensure the rest of the recruitment process is as productive and valuable as possible.


Candidate skills, experience, and personal qualities

Once you’ve decided which type of employee your business needs, it’s time to consider the character traits, experience and skills that you’re looking for in a member of staff, to further build that employee profile. For example, are you looking for an entry-level candidate that you can train and shape to fit your business’s needs, or a more experienced worker, capable of handling more responsibility and able to bring their own skills and knowledge to the business?

It may help to consider which of your own skills and experiences lend themselves to your industry, and look for similar features in an employment candidate. Listed below are a few specific things that may help you to get a clearer idea of the candidate that you want to look for:

  • Level of the role – apprentice vs. manager, for instance
  • Experience of the candidate – whether in years or skills demonstrated
  • Tasks you want the candidate to carry out
  • Personal characteristics the candidate should have
  • Budget – for the whole recruitment process
  • Payment – a rough idea of how much you want to pay your new recruit.

Of course, it’s also important to ensure that your employee expectations remain realistic – are you really going to be able to find an expert candidate with ten years’ experience, who is willing to work for an entry-level salary? Probably not. It may help to look at the staff makeup of competitors or businesses similar to yours, and conduct some research on employment in your industry, in order to help you manage a realistic expectation of the candidates you will find.

Finding employees

Once you have thoroughly considered exactly what it is you’d like to find in a potential candidate and built your employee profile, you can properly begin the recruitment process. The next step is to decide whether or not you want to use a recruitment agency to find appropriate candidates for you.

Recruitment agencies

For many small businesses, it may not be necessary to employ a recruitment agency, but for those considering it, here are some of the benefits of doing so:

  • Experience – particularly if you’re hiring your first employee, this can be hugely beneficial
  • Knowledge of the market – many recruiters specialise in a particular industry
  • Applicants vs candidates – ensuring applicants are full qualified and eligible before informing you
  • Saves you time – agents will do all the footwork for you so that you can focus on running your business.

Remember that recruitment agents will charge you a fee for helping you to hire staff – for some small businesses this may be unaffordable. But for others, recruitment agents can be an effective way of locating desirable candidates.

Job description

If you are employing the services of a recruitment agent, there’s a chance that they may be able to help you when writing a job description for the role you want to fill. But, if you’re recruiting without the help of a third party, then the following list may give you an indication of the things you should include when writing a job description:

  • Job title / position
  • Company name &location
  • Further business information – for instance, company history
  • Level in company (if applicable)
  • Duties and responsibilities
  • Required experience, knowledge, and skills
  • Pay / salary
  • Application deadline
  • How to apply
  • Your contact details
  • Other application requirements – for example, references.

It’s important that the job description is accurately representative of the experience a potential candidate would have in the role, and the work that you expect to be carried out.

Hiring employees

Once you’ve written the job description for the role, it’s time to get it in front of potential candidates.

It’s often beneficial to post your job description in more than just one place. This helps to increase the chances of the right candidate seeing it, and can speed up the recruitment process in general. Just some of the places that you can advertise a job opening include:

  • Online recruitment sites
  • Local newspapers
  • On your business website
  • In the local community – for instance village halls and supermarkets
  • Social media.

Once your job advertisement is out there, it’s simply a matter of waiting for applications to come through. Then you can begin sorting through them, and decide which candidates you would like to ask to interview for the role.

Conducting interviews

If you have never conducted an interview before, it may seem like an intimidating task to carry out – but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be. While the exact nature of the interview – for example formality, length, and purpose – will depend on your business, as well as the role you are holding interviews for, there are still a few tips that may be helpful for virtually any business:

Be prepared

As the interviewer, you need to know exactly what it is you want to get out of the interview, to the point of knowing the specific questions that you want to ask. You do not necessarily need to stick to a strict question and answer format – in fact, building a rapport with the interviewee is often beneficial – but it’s also important that the interview doesn’t digress too far from its set path. It’s your job to guide the conversation in order to gather all the information you need from the candidate, and make the most of the time you have with them to assess their suitability for the role.

Don’t be overly formal

While it’s obviously necessary to maintain a certain level of professionalism in an interview situation, this doesn’t mean that there cannot still be a more casual element to it, too. By creating a rigid and high-pressure environment, it’s unlikely that you will be able to see the best in your interviewees. By making candidates feel more at ease, they’re more likely to reveal more about themselves, their skills and experiences – as well as even some detail about their personal, non-professional lives.

Focus on the candidate

While it’s true that an interview is an opportunity for candidates to learn a bit more about your company and the role they’re applying for, it’s important to remember that they key focus of the interview should be you learning more about the candidate. It’s often easy to get carried away with talking about your business, its work, or the role that you’re recruiting for – especially if you feel that the interviewee could be a good fit – but you should aim to make the most of the time you have with the candidate, and find out as much as you can about them – rather than the other way around.

Final thoughts…

Overall, the most important thing to remember during the whole interview process is the employee profile that you have built. If you always bear in mind the professional skills and experience, as well as personal traits and mannerisms of the ideal candidate, then you will stand a much higher chance of finding an employee that’s right for your company.

The chances are that you may have to compromise somewhere – for instance, a good potential candidate may not have quite as many years’ experience as you would have liked – but even so, having your ideal employee profile at the forefront of your mind can help to ensure that the person you eventually hire ticks as many boxes as possible, and gels with your company on both a professional and personal level.