Growing your team - the art and science of recruitment for small businesses

blog Apr 11, 2023

Hiring is such a critical task for a small business as they grow, but not given sufficient focus by the majority of small business owners.

We facilitated a ‘roundtable’ of 10 successful business owners with the topic ‘’How do you win at recruitment?”

Our goals in learning how small business owners successfully recruit A-Players

  • Better understand how successful small business owners approached this important function as they grow their business
  • What new or different tactics had they tried or were about to try, and
  • Considering how competitive and expensive it can be finding your next team member, how were they attracting and retaining their workforce.

We have summarised the awesome tips that came out of the conversations, which are based on their experience and things that work. 

When are you going to improve or start your own recruitment process?

13 actions you can take to be more successful in hiring

1. Ask this question: Who is your ideal candidate?

Seems simple, but are you always crystal clear on who your ideal candidate is when you are hiring? 

Over and above the technical requirements or skills you need for the role, have you considered values alignment or cultural fit?

2. Utilise social media channels to advertise and show potential candidates a "behind the scenes" view of your business. Let your values guide you.

Utilise technology and video to leverage this approach, as you will stand out from the crowd, rather than the typical boring job advertisements that risk missing out on your ideal candidates.

3. Tap into industry organisations to assist with hiring.

This is where many of your candidates probably ‘hang out’ in consuming content, information about your industry and possibly job advertisements.

If you are a member of an industry organisation, you are probably paying for this opportunity, so use it.

4. Investigate the current disruption of a four day week as a standard offer.

This will be subject to the type of business you operate, but this approach is a great example of thinking outside the square.

More-and-more businesses around the world are adopting a true four day week, with 32 hours - not 40 hours - expected to be worked with one less workday in the week. Most have found productivity gains, and clearly highly team engagement and happiness.

Could you consider this for your business?

This approach must lead to improved productivity to ensure your business is not worse off.

This must be a win-win but can be a real advantage in attracting A-Players, especially in the current tight labour market.

5. You need to ‘sell’ the position with your advertising copy and consider that recruitment is a PR channel.

This is an extension of the ‘behind the scenes’ tip above.

Use a similar approach to the copy you use for marketing and advertising. 

Does your advertisement represent the culture of your business and will it stand out in the market and resonate with your ideal client?

6. Don’t include a closing date - keep it open!

This helps you to hire quicker and reduce the likelihood of receiving applications at the last minute.

By keeping the advertisement open indefinitely, it creates a pipeline of potential candidates for your next hire as you grow. 

7. How are you leveraging word of mouth as a channel for finding candidates?

Word of mouth is proven to be great for generating new business, but rarely for referring new team members.

With focus and structure, your existing team members, customers and even suppliers could help you to find new team members.

Think outside the square with this one and consider what rewards and recognition you can provide to team members who are successful referrers.

8. Regular performance & salary reviews 

One business owner introduced a six monthly salary review for an A-Player which has created improved engagement, productivity and outcomes.

If you are undertaking annual performance reviews, think again.

You must be having at least monthly performance reviews and consider a salary review more often than annually as well, for the high performers on your team.

9. Design your PROCESS for both recruiting and onboarding 

Include an explanation about your onboarding process in your interview.

Even consider communicating your exit process within the recruiting process.

A process ensures you are consistent and do not overlook steps.

These processes should be simple, and include checklists where possible.

10. Request an audio or video in addition to a CV from applicants answering the question ‘Why do you want to work with us?’ 

Who is still requesting cover letters?

A video can provide some valuable insights into the applicant and how they communicate, and assist with filtering the applicants to save your time and energy.

11. Refer to your core values as part of the advertising and interview process

If you don’t have core values, make this a priority.

Values are the rules and boundaries that define your culture and personality, and provide a final “should / shouldn’t” test for all the behaviours and decisions by everyone in your team.

It emphasises the “how” we do things around here and, as best as possible, describes the culture of a business.  

12. Onboarding must include at least weekly meetings to ensure they are on track with expected outcomes

Within 90 days (or your probation period), you will know whether you need to let them go or you have an A-Player.

It is only 13 meetings and will increase the likelihood of a good hire.

No shortcuts!

13. Build a ‘prospect’ or 'pipeline' list of possible team members whether you are looking to employ or not

By doing so, you don’t have to be reactive when you need to hire.

Knowing what you are not looking for is just as important as knowing what you need.

The real cost of mis-hire can be 5 to 27 times their annual salary.

Expensive mistakes if you don’t get it right! 

We see most small business owners don’t invest time or value the most important job a manager does - recruitment. Which is why we put together a two week ‘Ultimate Recruitment Toolkit’ short course. It includes a Playbook you can copy, drop into your Operations Manual and tailor for your business so you and your managers become Kick-Ass Recruiters.