Staff. They are one of the most common topics which arises when we’re talking with our clients. Whether it’s how to hold onto them, find them or motivate them, staff issues seem to occupy rather a lot of brain space when you’re running a business. In this post, we’ll look at how to find brilliant people and how to hang onto them.
Get the job description right
This an area that can get overlooked in the hurry to get to that new hire. Take the time to think about what functions you want this position to perform. Draft and redraft this list. The closer you can get to the actual tasks you want this position to undertake, the better fit you'll get with applicants. Avoid the temptation to fancy up the job; say what you need and want.
You'll notice I've been talking about the 'position', not the person who will fill it. That's because if you understand why the position is important to your business first and foremost, you can fill that position over and over. Get the detail right on the description and you’ve made yourself a great checklist when the applications come in.
Here's a couple of simple tips: I always like to add a specific request to see whether the applicant is taking notice and not just spamming you and lots of others. It could be as simple as a subject line in the email application. Also, save some time and use LinkedIn as a short cut tool to create your job description and amend as required.
Sell yourself as an employer
I want you to consider what it is that you’re selling. People need to buy into your company and not just the job itself. What can you offer in location, workplace environment, company culture? In short, why would they choose you over a competitor? This is particularly important for small busineses which may not be able to compete on salary, but can absolutely compete on offering an interesting, enjoyable place to work.
Let the search commence
There are lots of ways to find staff such as online recruitment sites, specialist recruitment agencies through to social media sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook. You can use your own networks to put the word out and send out the job description too. Word of mouth always creates a warm referral. Remember to return the favour to keep the good will flowing.
Another route is to ask staff to refer people from their own networks. They may know of friends or family looking for a new opportunity. Offer an incentive to make them want to help you. It could be as simple as a gift card.
On an ongoing basis, use your own website to generate interested staff no matter if you need to hire or not. Keeping a careers page open and active means great people will introduce themselves and maybe there will be an opportunity in a few months that will create an open door to get in touch with them.
Cull and pull
The most annoying part of the search is always the culling of applications. Using your job description, it should be pretty easy to work out those who are of interest and those who are not.
You should get back to everyone who applies, even if it's just an email. Don't be one of those people who hides behind the, "only shortlisted candidates will be contacted." It sends a message about your company that you don't respect applicants and you want to establish control from the get go. Also, it's just plain rude.
To keep things both respectful and polite, I like to have a template set up for the ‘thanks but no thanks’ candidates and another for requesting further information if required. Remember too that not every box will be ticked, so keep an open mind and work out what the skills you really can’t live without as opposed to those that can be taught along the way.
Test for attitude
The old adage of hire for ‘attitude not aptitude’ exists for a reason. Skills can be taught, but attitude you're stuck with.
The next step is the face to face meeting, and this is where you can test for attitude. Have a series of questions that you use for every interview which help reveal something about the applicant's personality. An open ended question like, "what sort of environment do you like to work in?" can invite the applicant to reveal a little more about their workplace preferences, and can lead to a revealing discussion on work ethic and personality.
Don’t be afraid to write notes as you go in front of them. It’s more important for you to be able to look back and remember who said what and if there were any real alarm bells. It also helps you when you’re checking references. Do the responses from the candidate and the referee add up?
Speaking of which, always do due diligence. It really pays to get a referee’s perspective. Really dig for weaknesses so you can be aware of them to help them grow in the role. Here's where you can test for any alarm bells that went off regarding attitude.
In my next post, I'll look at what happens when you're ready to make an offer to the right person and how you manage those crucial first few months. But if this post has you nodding your head and thinking, "that sounds like the situation I'm in", then maybe it's time to get some expert advice. Click on the button for our free coaching session and let's chat about your specific situation. We'd love to help.