10 Essential Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners

One of the great things about owning your own business is that it allows you to be completely independent, and in control of every element of the work. Hiring an employee can change that dynamic. You’ll need to work in close quarters and learn to trust someone else to get the job done the way you like it.

However, if you do it right, hiring employees for your small business can open up a range of possibilities for your business. You’ll be able to grow your revenue, take your company in new directions, and maybe even enjoy your work more than ever.

Here are 10 tips you can use to find employees that can support you, and help your business reach its potential:

1. Don’t rush

Just like other aspects of running a business, it all comes down to planning ahead. If you’re desperate and feel that you have to take the first candidate you see, you’re unlikely to get the best candidate. Instead, give yourself time to create a hiring plan. This will help you proceed methodically, giving yourself the chance to really get to know people, and attract the type of candidates who appreciate order and organization.

2. Think hard about your needs

Writing a job description is one of the most critical phases of the hiring process. It’s your chance to dig deep and think about what you and your business actually need before you put it to paper. Spend some time examining your own strengths and weaknesses, and figuring out where and how someone else will be able to fill in the gaps. Imagine what the person’s day would look like, and how their position will change your workload. For instance, it may turn out that hiring an independent contractor could be a solution for certain tasks, which would allow you to outsource projects periodically. Or, after reviewing the factors recommended above, you may recognize that you definitely need a full-time employee who can handle a variety of tasks.

3. Understand and identify what’s really important

4. Know what you have to offer

If you can’t afford to pay the highest salaries on the market, think about other ways you can attract the best employees. If you’re a small business, you may be able to offer better learning opportunities or flexibility than a large firm. Maybe you’re located conveniently to a neighborhood without a lot of other employment options, which could make employment with you that much more convenient, and strengthen your roots within your local community. Think about your advantages and recruit accordingly.

5. Think outside the box

Diversity is in recruiting is a key factor, and it has a lot to offer your business. Old-school hiring practices often left out some highly talented people, simply because they might not have fit the “traditional image” for a particular profession. For example, you may be able to find great people who were overlooked because they didn’t go to the big-name schools or can’t work standard hours due to family obligations. Plus, it goes beyond mere demographics. You may think a good salesperson is someone who is gregarious and bold, but someone else with a slightly different approach may achieve fantastic sales by being approachable and a good listener. Try to go beyond your preconceptions to find people with unique skills and potential.

6. Ask specific questions

Go beyond the classic “tell me about yourself.” Your interview questions should be specific, but open-ended. For instance, try asking people about projects they worked on in the past or former work environments. Have them tell you what they liked and disliked about each. This will help you get an idea of the person’s strengths and what kind of environment they’re likely to thrive in.

7. Don’t take their word for it

You don’t have to run a formal background check these days to get some idea of who your candidate is outside of the interview room. Besides calling references, a simple Google search can go a long way. It won’t reveal everything, but it can help verify what’s on a CV and may turn up some red flags.

8. Don’t count on candidates accepting your job offer

Candidates always have the option to turn you down. You need to impress your candidates just as much as they need to impress you. Be friendly and considerate of their time throughout your recruiting process. In the interview, provide information about the job and give your interviewee a chance to ask questions. And remember, the questions you choose to ask send messages. For example, even for someone with no family responsibilities, asking (possibly illegal) questions about their home life may hint that you don’t know how to support a healthy work-life balance.

9. Reject wisely

It’s a small business world and news travels fast. It’s perfectly fine to reject most candidates, but it will reflect well on your business to make sure to be courteous, and appreciate the time the potential candidates invested. It’s not polite to disappear once you’ve ruled out a candidate. Take the time to send a basic thank you email, and let the other candidates know you’ve filled the position. In this case, an email is fine. If you liked the candidate, you can even let them know you’ll keep their application on file. Even if they don’t have the skills you need now, it could save you time later when you do need someone with their particular experience.

10. Don’t hire more often than you need to

Make a solid effort to retain your best employees by making sure they feel appreciated, and giving them room to grow in their positions. There are a lot of ways to do this, so find some that work for you, and make them count. Employee loyalty is a priceless commodity that you won’t be able to find on a resume.

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