Recruiting Strategies for small businesses: It’s Not as Difficult as You Think

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Recruiting and selection are a vital function of any business and there are dire consequences if you make poor hiring decisions. You might end up with deadwood, fail to attract and retain your employees, suffer from high churn rates, lose morale and productivity all because of one or two bad hires. You need to get the right people on board because the right employees can give your business a sustainable competitive advantage.

Recruiting is a comprehensive term for all procedures and decisions that influence either the number or types of persons inclined to apply for and accept job offers. This includes the conversion of leads generated during sourcing into job applicants, the generation of interest in a company and its jobs and urging of candidates to accept job offers extended to them. Recruitment mainly deals with the activities and practices used to attract suitable candidates; selection focuses on the techniques used to select the most suitable applicants.

For small businesses and indeed for large ones, there is huge cost involved in terms of time and money that go into recruiting. Your business needs to be putting out consistent revenue because you will need a sizeable cash reserve to hire someone. Profits brought in by your business are funneled back to you after your business pays all expenses, costs, and taxes. At this point it’s better not to pocket all the cash but rather to reinvest a portion back into the business to set some of it aside for recruiting. The amount of money needed to fund the recruiting exercise depends on several factors like the location of your business, the type of position you are hiring for and current market salary, and any benefits you plan to provide for the new hire.

 Hidden recruitment costs you might not know about represent the majority of hiring costs. You need to pay Salaries and benefits for employees involved in the hiring process, pay internal commissions or other costs of referring an employee. Depending on the nature of the job or legal requirements you might need to do a background check. There are advertising and online job board costs you need to be aware of and you need to assist with the onboarding process, train new hires and invest in software or equipment as required. Even if there is no visible or direct cost when posting and marketing jobs on social media YOUR TIME which represents an opportunity cost is being used up. This is time you could be using to come up with new ideas for your business or serving your customers so indirectly there is a cost even for ‘FREE’ job boards.

Recruitment strategies

Recruitment is both a science and art, it cannot be narrowed down to a precise, repeatable, and demonstrable blueprint that leads to finding the right people every time. There are no stellar recruitment practices, golden rules, or hard and fast methods that work every time.”


Nevertheless, you need a recruitment strategy or to at least pen down a plan of actions you will carry out in your recruiting process so that you can find the most suitable person from a pool of candidates. Some key considerations for your recruitment strategy include the type of individuals to be targeted – be very specific about your requirements (Read our article on job design and job analysis to help with that), the recruitment message to be communicated, how best to reach the targeted individuals and the nature of a site visit or open house. Because of the huge resources involved in recruiting it’s advisable to look for team members within your network and build your team from there. Simply asking friends or acquaintances to stop by and check out your office is a great idea.

How you present your company to potential applicants is important. Sell them on your vision but don’t mislead them and don’t make promises you can’t deliver. One of the simplest strategies is ensuring the presence of a careers page on your company website to promote open roles, share content and share the company mission, culture, and benefits. Another way is to share current employee testimonials using podcasts or social media. Employees can be featured on Instagram and this platform can also be used to showcase the culture of your company and its values. Another strategy is the writing and upkeep of regular blog articles on ventures or projects your company is engaged in. This helps candidates understand the nature of the job or what it’s like to work for your company.

It is paramount to get into sites like Quora and Reddit to connect with candidates and give answers to their questions candidly. Hosting virtual or in-person casual meetups or gatherings with potential candidates has been shown to be effective, talk to potential recruits over drinks in a relaxed atmosphere using the money from the cash reserve we mentioned earlier. We suggest multiple strategies to be implemented as what works for one company may not necessarily work for you and vice versa.

Strategies for reaching passive job applicants

Unlike active applicants who are explicitly motivated to find work, passive applicants are typically employed individuals who are willing to explore the potential job opportunities. One of the best ways to attract passive job seekers is to strengthen the company brand by supporting worthy causes, sponsoring community events, and ploughing back through employee volunteering and company events. You would be surprised by the number of people who care deeply about the why of a job, and the why of a business. These activities give the impression that the company is a good place to work for and may steer the passive job seekers towards the company.

Other strategies include employee referral programs that incentivize current employees to refer qualified candidates for jobs. Another strategy is the setting up an easy and tailored application process for passive job seekers. Since they are not actively looking for a job and you approached them, they must not be chased away by questions like ‘why do you want to work for us?’ or be expected to have conducted extensive research on your company. For this type of candidates you should concentrate on talent more than what’s written on a resume. Pay more attention to their personality, on the soft skills ask open questions and listen.

Strategies for reaching a culturally diverse applicant pool

If you can’t link your business goals or strategy to diversity, then there is really no point in pursuing diversity in the first place. It shouldn’t be done simply because it is the ‘in thing’ because if there is no serious rationale for its instigation then in the event of financial constraints such initiatives will be the first to go. Nevertheless, the critical thing is to first build the culture within your company. Ensure there is infrastructural readiness as in separate washrooms, ramps, etc. for the diverse groups that you are planning on bringing onboard. Ensure your current employees are ready for this by providing training if necessary. Instead of waiting for roles to open up just allow anyone no matter their skill or background to apply anytime and allow those candidates to sign up for job alerts so that when a job that matches their skills comes up, they can apply.

A blind resume (candidates do not fill in personal information that may lead to bias) or blind interview (early conversations with candidates are kept anonymous) can improve your chances of sourcing a diverse talent pool. Another strategy once your business can afford it is to utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to review candidate profiles. Other ways include offering internships for targeted groups or showcasing the diversity in your company via social media, implementing diversity policies and auditing job adverts to ensure that they welcome diversity.

Recommendations for the pre-screening of candidates

The simplest way is to have an FAQ section on your company website so that candidate questions can be answered before applying. Chatbots can give answers on culture, benefits and the hiring process thus helping potential candidates learn more about the company in an engaging and interactive way. This not only pre-screens candidates but also saves both the candidate and your time. Online pre-screening tools such as self-administered personality and skills assessments or tests have also been shown to be effective in sieving out the fit applications from many applications. Other pre-screening methods include credential verification, credit history, criminal history, education verification, employment verification, motor vehicle records, reference checks, social security verification and worker’s compensation history.

Final Word

Recruiting is complex and requires sound judgement, and it also relies on intuition and experience. There is no formula that can solve all your recruiting problems. You’ll get lucky a couple of times. Some strategies are optimized for active job seekers and others are best suited for passive job seekers. Remember some bad workers have great resumes. Prescreening is vital so that you can at least try to avoid the bad apples, and then you take what you get and turn them into a stellar team by yourself!

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