For small business owners, the hiring process – from recruitment and selection to onboarding – is extremely challenging. In the latest Wells Fargo/Gallup survey, 64% of small business owners said hiring well-qualified employees as their top challenge. Hiring quality employees is critical to long-term success. One bad hire can jeopardize the future of your business. Finding the right employees is overwhelming and time-consuming, especially with small business owners otherwise occupied with running daily operations. With the right tools, tips and tricks, recruiting, hiring and onboarding processes can be more efficient and productive. The following productivity hacks for small business hiring can help you attract and hire the right candidates, saving time and effort. Efficiently Finding the Most Qualified Job Seekers Advertise the Open Position Technology enables your job posting to reach a larger group of people to reach a larger network of people. In a recent SCORE hiring survey, small business owners reported having the most success with referrals from other employees or small business owners, networking groups, job posting websites and social media. Great ways advertise and communicate the open position include: Paid online job boards such as Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn Jobs and Career Builder have built-in ways to target candidates based on level of experience, skill sets, education and industry. Referrals are one of the best sources of job candidates. According to a Jobvite, 35% of job seekers reported getting their most recent job through a referral. Share the job posting with your own network and ask them to communicate it widely. Other sources of referrals include friends, professional connections, industry groups and alumni networks. Social media has become a very important channel in recruiting as the majority of job seekers use social media as part of their job search. LinkedIn has long been known as the social media network for recruitment and professional networking. Depending on the audience, Twitter and Facebook can also be helpful for sharing job postings with your networks. Recruiters can handle the hiring process for you, provided your budget allows for it. Once you provide the recruiting firm with a detailed job description and details on your ideal candidate, Recruiters will screen resumes and conduct pre-interviews, saving you a huge amount of time. Niche job boards maximize the market for the best candidates by enabling you to target specific industries. If you’re looking for a candidate with specialized skills, you may also want to research niche job boards including Dice (technology), MediaBistro (media and communication) and One Wire (finance). Industry association job boards are useful in targeting specific industries. If you are looking for a marketer, you might post the job on the American Marketing Association job board. Tracking the Hiring Process Applicant tracking spreadsheets can track where and when you advertise/post job openings, number of candidate responses, deadlines, effectiveness of posting, etc. In addition to streamlining the hiring process, the resulting job advertising history is a great reference guide for future positions, enabling you to focus on the advertising methods garnering the best results. A tracking form can help manage candidates, qualifications and progress, especially when hiring for multiple positions simultaneously. Applicant Tracking Systems facilitate and optimize the hiring process – from application submission to hiring employees. Tracking systems enable job ads to be posted on your website as well as external job boards. A tracking system also tracks where candidates found the job posting, enabling you to evaluate the recruiting tactics and determine whether to reduce or eliminate a method. Hiring the Best Candidate For small businesses, candidates not only need to meet the job requirements but also must fit the business culture. Employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to stay with your business long-term and be more productive Consider Specific Needs and How Candidate Fits Business Needs What gap will this new hire be filling? How will their expertise contribute to business growth? Can you afford ideal employee’s salary or is outsourcing more cost-effective? Determine the goals for the new hire What are the required skills for the new role? What character traits are you looking for in an ideal new hire? How much applicable experience should potential candidates have? Be Transparent with Candidates Respect candidate’s time Don’t cancel interview at last minute without an apology, Paying attention in interviews and not using mobile devices Avoid leaving candidates waiting past their interview time Write clear, easy-to understand job descriptions outlining position’s primary responsibilities, experience needed and desired behavioral characteristics. During phone screens and face-to-face interviews, clarify the timeline for filling the position. Communicate during every step in the hiring process. Talk about the salary upfront Be honest about your business’s current state Ensure your online reputation supports the business in an authentic way Position Your Business as the Best Place to Work Treat candidates in the same manner as a prospective customer Be worth working for Offer competitive salaries and benefits. Provide a high-functioning work environment, with effective management, professional development and recognition for a job well done. Provide financial stability by explain your stock plans, 401Ks and pension plans. Promote a positive workplace image. Explain business goals, mission statement and how the role fits. Interview Red Flags Interviews help evaluate candidate’s background and potential for thriving in a small business environment. However, sometimes an answer or seemingly insignificant comment or omission can raise a red flag. Everyone can have a bad day so you may not want to completely dismiss a candidate for one or two red flags. However, you should watch for the following: Arriving late or unprepared for the interview Disheveled appearance Complaining about previous employers No explanation for gaps in employment history Cannot provide a reference from a previous supervisor Not sharing example of learning from an experience Acting rude or dishonest Displays a bad attitude Ensure a Productive Screening Process Before you make an offer to your top candidate, you should screen employees to verify the provided information accurate. Screenings can prevent a bad hiring decision as well as help you better understand how to manage the candidate if you do hire them. Screening may include calling references, ordering background tests and even drug testing. Reference Checks Conduct at least two verbal reference checks with at least one with a former supervisor Prepare questions to save time Verify the employment facts and ask questions to assess the candidate’s skills aptitude and fit Pose one hypothetical question at the end of the call – “Would you rehire the candidate?” If one reference check is positive and the other mediocre or negative, conduct a third check to explain the disparity Take detailed notes as they also be helpful in the future if the candidate is hired Beware of fake references Background Checks Conducting a Background Check Document and implement a consistent policy on how background checks are performed Obtain legal advice to ensure background checks comply with local laws Allow candidates to clear up and mistakes or misunderstandings Use background check services compliant with Fair Credit Reporting Act Conduct background checks consistently, not case-by-case Determine of you need the candidate’s permission to perform a background check Basic background check Criminal record Education Social Security Employment Address history Sex Offender Registry S. Terror Watch List Additional background checks to consider Driving records. Education Credit report Military service Workers compensation State and professional license records For more information about pre-employment screening, check out this infographic displaying how to create an effective employment screening policy. Onboarding New Hires You put a huge effort into recruiting and hiring the best candidate and the job offer has been accepted. However, your efforts could be in vain if you are unable to retain the employee. Onboarding is a critical step in the recruiting process. Onboarding is not just filling out paperwork and finding their new desk. Rather, onboarding helps to ensure the new hire feels wanted after being hired. Benefits of Onboarding Better job performance Greater commitment to the business Reduced stress o Higher job satisfaction Better retention Four Cs of Onboarding The Society for Human Resources management list what they call the four Cs of onboarding: Compliance is the lowest level and includes educating employees on legal and policy-related rules and regulations. Clarification ensures employees understand their new jobs and all related expectations. Culture is a broad category and includes providing employees with an understanding of formal and informal organizational standards. Connection refers the relationships and networks new employees establish. Best Practices for Onboarding Implement basics before employee’s first day Have an engaging training process Develop a written onboarding plan Create a participatory onboarding experience Use formal orientation programs Monitor the program and update as necessary. Use milestones to review employee progress Ensure employees understand onboarding objectives, timelines, roles and responsibilities. Summary Hiring employees can be time-consuming for small business owners who are already busy managing business operations. However, recruiting, hiring and retaining employees is critical to business growth and success. Your employees can be your most valuable asset so it’s essential to ensure you get hiring right. The small business hiring hacks in this article can help streamline the hiring process and ensure you find the best candidate for the job.