Attracting top talent for your small business is hard in any environment. But in an economy where flexibility is a baseline requirement, and competing on salary is harder than ever, how you sell yourself as an employer matters.
Jaz da Silva from HR consultancy firm Relate recently delivered a workshop at Brisbane Business Hub on the topic of hiring for small business. She let us in on some expert tips for attracting talent, selling yourself as an employer, selecting the top person for the job and setting the scene for a happy partnership.
Stand out in a crowded job market
You only need to bring up seek.com to see a plethora of jobs on offer for any given occupation. It’s an employees market, that’s for sure, and employers need to do a few things to not only stand out, but even get a look in in the first place.
Jaz says employers need to review their value proposition to candidates, and make sure they’re offering something that’s in line with expectations, if not above and beyond that.
“Flexibility is a dealbreaker for most people,” Jaz says.
“Just think about the environment you want to work in yourself. You want that work/life balance, so why wouldn’t you staff want the same?
“Surprisingly, money isn’t always the most important aspect of value proposition. Employees rate this as the fifth most important thing when considering a role.”
Jaz says Seek and other traditional job platforms are oversaturated, and as such, it’s hard to find good candidates that way.
“We see small businesses using more marketing tools, such as short videos promoted on social media, to attract applications and enquiries,” she says.
“You can create a video on your iPhone showing a day in the life, interviews with staff or generally showcasing your workplace. It’s a great way to attract talent when you aren’t able to stand out with a salary offer on a traditional platform. It also means you’ll attract someone with a good values alignment.”
Jaz says to make your job ads clear, noting what you expect the candidate to know and be able to do, but also noting what you’re willing to teach them.
“Some people won’t apply for a role if they don’t think they can do everything,” she says.
“This is unfortunate because it could be the sort of thing that could be easily taught, especially if they’re keen to learn. List what’s vital and what you’re willing to teach someone.”
And, importantly, if you’re wondering whether or not to include the salary in your job ad, Jaz says do it.
“Publishing the salary for the position will help attract candidates that are genuinely interested in the role. It is reality and you can’t change it, so it’s best to be open about it.”
Check yourself in the assessment process
Whether you’re creating and screening a shortlist or going straight to the interviews, Jaz says it’s important to make it easy for the candidate applying.
“People are time-poor, especially if they currently have another job,” she says. “Try to remove barriers for them and minimise the amount of time someone has to commit to to apply for the role.”
Then it’s over to you, the employer, to check yourself.
Bias is extremely prevalent when it comes to recruitment and hiring. As human beings, we tend to like people who are similar to ourselves – whether that’s because of gender, accent, skin colour, or even hair colour – and allow that to influence our thinking. It’s hard to tell when we’re doing it, and even harder to admit when we’re doing it.
Using various assessment tools can help to reduce your bias, as does simply being aware of it and asking yourself why you’re drawn to a certain candidate. Make sure you’re judging candidates based on their potential and their experience – you can dig into that in your interview questions – and the rest is noise.
Make the interview work for you
The best interviews are the ones that have the feel of a casual and open conversation. Structure is important to make sure you find out the information you need, but you want to make sure you can communicate effectively and that the candidate understands the questions.
Jaz says it’s important to make people feel comfortable in the interview. Consider who you have in the room and how many people there are, as panel-type interviews can make people more nervous than they already would be in an interview. .
At Relate, Jaz uses the S.A.O technique when forming interview questions.
They suggest choosing five key areas to assess, and asking three question types in relation to these:
- Situation – What was the situation?
- Action – What action did you personally take?
- Outcome – What was the outcome? What did you learn?
Ultimately, in the interview, you want to weigh up the candidate’s potential versus their demonstrated capability – so you’re looking for knowledge and demonstrated examples.
Side note: Knowing what you should ask is important, but so is what you shouldn’t be asking. Questions such as ‘Where were you born?’, ‘What’s your accent?’ and even ‘What are your talents and interests?’ aren’t relevant to the role and could be seen as discriminatory if the candidate doesn’t get the role. If you’re unsure, you can learn more about Equal Employment Opportunity here.
Onboarding for success
Think the recruitment process stops at the contract? Think again.
Onboarding your new staff member is important no matter their occupation or industry. Here are a few tips to make sure your new team member feels welcome and valued when they start their new job:
- Call the team member before they start. Let them know the dress code, where to park etc.
- Make sure someone’s there to greet them. That might be their manager, a member of the leadership team, or even just someone who works near them.
- Show them things like where they will be working, where the toilets are and where the kitchen is.
- Make them feel like they’re part of the team with a welcome morning tea, or even just a tour of the workplace where they’re introduced to other team members.
Recruitment can seem like a big job for small business owners, in an ever-crowded market where employee expectations have never been higher. But by considering your strengths as an employer and getting your process right, you’ll start having hiring wins in no time.