Seven tips for effective small business hiring

by | Aug 14, 2017 | Small Business Tips & Advice

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As a small business hiring the right people is vital to the success & growth of your company. Making mistakes can be costly. Here’s our seven top hiring tips for SMEs.

Tips for small business hiring

Last year, the number of employing SMEs increased by 14,000 – that’s a lot of small businesses hiring new staff. According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, SMEs account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses, and employ 15.7 million 60% of all private sector employment in the UK[1].

Hiring the wrong people can be costly for any firm, but doubly so for SMEs when you take into account time spent looking for and training new staff. Any small business hiring new members knows that employing the right people is key to successful growth of your company.

Anyone working for a small company knows it takes a certain kind of person, often multi-skilled and definitely hard working and driven. But how do you go about finding and retaining those key hires as a small business?

Seven top tips on effective small business hiring

  • Passion

When looking for a new member to join your small team, finding someone who is passionate about either what they do or what your business produces or offers is vital. You want to know that if the going gets tough, they are willing to go that extra mile to ensure success. When interviewing, make sure you look out for people who shoe genuine enthusiasm for what they do and what they can bring to your organisation.

  • Use your contacts

Make sure you utilise your existing contacts when it comes to hiring staff. Speak to other business colleagues and spread the word amongst your network. Use LinkedIn to get in touch with friends in your industry or post roles on there directly. Often the best hires come from people you know.

  • Interns

If you don’t have one already, think about setting up internships. This can be great for short term hires where recently graduated or qualified people will be delighted to gain experience for an up and coming small business.

Make sure you’re able to offer something in return though, even if that’s just travel and expenses. But if all you can offer is experience, make sure the experience they gain will be of value to your intern too, so that the role is worthwhile for their career progression.  Also, by hiring interns you may spot potential that you can foster into a full time valuable member of your company.

  • Interview process

Take a look at your interview process, are you asking the right questions to spot the good hires? If you spot any red flags when interviewing candidate make sure you address them there and then.

Before you even start interviewing make sure you are very clear about the core skills needed for the position you’re hiring for. Once you know this you can frame questions that will allow you to assess candidate and gives them a clear picture of what’s expected of them. Ask them for examples of how they’ve dealt with the types of problems they might face in your business.

  • Trial day

One great way to ensure you have the right person for your small business is to offer a trial day. If you have a candidate that seems right but you have some niggling concerns about whether they’ll fit in with your culture, or how they’ll handle the role, offer a trial day.

Have your candidate shadow someone in the team so they get a feel for the role and the culture. That way if the fit isn’t right you save money and time, and if it’s the right person, they have a much better idea of what the role will entail.

  • Offer a good package

As a small business hiring, you won’t always be able to offer the most competitive package, but make sure what you do offer is the right kind of compensation to retain the right type of talent. Offering equity can be one way to add incentive for future staff. Another way is to offer flexibility around working hours or the ability to work remotely if the role is suitable.

Part of what makes working for an SME more attractive is also the fact that as a small company that’s expanding, there’s potential for those early hires to progress with the company as managerial staff as teams start to grow. Make sure that if this is a possibility you make this clear at interviews.

  • Check references

Once you think you’ve found the right person to join your business, be sure to take up their references. So many businesses neglect to make this final check, but not doing so can prove costly. It’s also a good way to ask questions to ensure a good cultural fit, by finding out how they worked in their previous position.

Last of all, ensure you have the funds to hire the talent your business needs to grow. Many small businesses come to CODE when they’re at a point where they need capital to grow not only their production but also to hire key members of staff. Ensure that if you’re applying for growth capital, you include the cost of hiring the right people at rates that will attract and retain them.

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