Management March 30, 2016 Last updated September 18th, 2018 1,948 Reads share

A Proven Hiring Strategy for Small Businesses Looking to Fill Vacancies

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Talent acquisition is something that takes time, patience, hard work, and determination. It’s not something that you can just check off your list. If you want to make the right hires and bring in employees that will help move your business in the right direction, then you have to be prepared to give these things. And while hiring an employee is never an easy task, it doesn’t have to be stressful or grueling – you simply need a plan.

Why Hiring the Right Employee Matters

In order to understand the importance of making the right hire, you have to consider the incredible cost of hiring the wrong employee. According to well-known recruiter Jorgen Sundberg, the cost of onboarding a full-time mid-level manager

While that’s a pretty high figure, it pales in comparison to the cost of hiring the wrong employee. Tack on total compensation, legal fees, eventual severance pay, other costs, and you’re looking at $840,000 (for a mid-level manager who works 2.5 years before being terminated and replaced).

But that’s just the dollar amount. You also have to think about productivity costs, employee morale costs, and even the toll high turnover takes on your industry reputation. When you hire the wrong employee, you’re essentially sending a virus through your company that may or may not leave some unwanted symptoms behind.

Considering that it costs so much to hire the wrong person, Robert Half, the world’s leading staffing agency, tells business owners, “The biggest mistake you can make when you’re in the market for new employees is to rely on the same tried-and-true methods for job placement that you’ve been using for years.” In other words, if you aren’t constantly re-evaluating your process of recruiting and onboarding new hires, then you’re setting yourself up for repeat failures.

3 Tips for Making the Right Hire

Thankfully, making the right hire isn’t as challenging as some businesses make it out to be. Armed with a few techniques and strategies, you can increase your chances of finding, hiring, and retaining employees that will be productive and profitable. Here are a handful of these tips.

#1. Start With a Wide Net

The problem some small businesses have is that they begin their search for a candidate with a narrow scope. They’ll only take referrals from current employees, only post their opening on the company website, or only contact a select few individuals to see if they’re interested. The problem with this isolated approach is that you’re seriously limiting your pool of talent.

It’s much better to cast a wide net, develop a long list of candidates, and then narrow the search based on criteria you’ve identified. Not sure what casting a wide net looks like? At a very minimum, you should be doing the following:

  • Online job postings. Start by posting your job opening on as many different sites as possible. Try general sites like StartJobs, as well as niche sites that pertain to your industry. For example, Dice is one of the leading sites for IT and tech jobs.
  • Personal network. As a business owner, you probably have a large personal network that can be used. This network may consist of former employers, employees, current business partners, customers, etc. Send out emails, pick up the phone, and let people know that you have an opening you’re actively trying to fill.
  • Employee network. Do you trust your employees? Do you want more just like them? People tend to hang out with like-minded people, so you can feel good asking for referrals from your best employees.
  • Staffing agency. If all else fails and you can’t gain any traction from posting on job sites and tapping your networks, then you may want to consider a staffing agency. There are plenty of good options – including Robert Half, the one we previously mentioned – and the fee will always be cheaper than the mistake of hiring the wrong person.

The more places you look, the more likely it is you’ll find the right employee for your opening. It’s best to cast a wide net and then throw back the ones you don’t want.

#2. Develop Clear Criteria

Casting a wide net is great, but you absolutely must get this next technique down pat if this strategy is going to be successful. You need to develop clear criteria for the exact employee you’re seeking.

The key is to develop a list that significantly narrows your pool of candidates without crossing off all the names. In other words, you don’t want to get so specific that your list is narrowed from 40 candidates to one. Ideally, your criteria would help you whittle a pool down from 40 candidates to five or six.

And it’s important to mention that these are “on paper” criteria. In other words, these are things you look at before you even meet the individual. Examples would include: has a master’s degree, is fluent in Spanish, has spent 10-plus years in the industry, and is able to include five senior-level referrals.

#3. Interview Like You Mean It

The final step is to interview like you mean it! If you’ve laid a solid foundation with a wide-sweeping search and a very specific narrowing process, then interviewing will be rewarding. You won’ be wasting your time with unqualified candidates. Instead, you’ll be using this time to get to know the final candidates and study their interpersonal skills.

While the interview process will look different for every business/position, use this time to ask open-ended questions. The less you guide the candidate, the more authentic their answers will be.

Have a Plan

If you’ve failed to hire the right people in the past, you understand just how costly talent acquisition mistakes can be. This is just one strategy – but it’s a good one at that. By starting wide and narrowing your search over time, you get the best of both worlds. You get a large pool of candidates while only having to interview the ones that you believe have the potential to be good fits for your company.


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Margarita Hakobyan

Margarita Hakobyan

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