By Luis Salazar
If you’re running or managing a small- to medium-sized business (SMB), chances are, you wear many hats at once. From accounting to marketing, those who work at SMBs have to make creative use of their time and resources every single day.
When it comes to recruiting, however, being a generalist is expensive. Because most SMBs don’t have a team of recruiting specialists on hand, they spend a disproportionate amount of money and resources finding the right workers. SMBs spend $3,600 per hire, while companies with over 10,000 employees pay less — an average of $1,900, according to Deloitte. Because many SMBs lack the resources to employ a recruiter or human resource support, store managers and business owners are often tasked with hiring in addition to running their business. It takes up to eight hours for front-line managers to sort out job applications and make phone prescreening calls, Jobaline research found.
Especially for hourly workers, who are key to small business success, focusing on smart hiring is crucial. Here are five recruitment tips every small business owner should know:
1. Know Your Target Hiring Audience. Just as you research your market before opening your store doors, or releasing a new product or service, you should also research the types of people you want to hire. Which websites do they visit, and on which type of platform and device? Target your job listings to the types of technology and websites your target hiring audience most frequently uses. For example, if you’re looking for a cashier or other hourly worker, your target hiring audience is likely not on LinkedIn. Rather, your potential workers likely frequent job boards such as Indeed.com or Craigslist. In some demographics and regions, they even prefer to search for jobs on local printed newspapers and magazines. Note also that potential workers may have limited access to email, but be accessible by phone and text.
2. Make the Application Process Intuitive and Easily Accessible. Google famously puts prospective workers through about 12 interviews before they’re hired. The process is intimidating by design, because Google only wants to hire the best.
For small businesses hiring hourly workers, it is still possible to hire the best workers and make the application process more accommodating. As hourly-worker expert Mel Kleiman says, “When hiring, it is important to get the information needed to make a good hiring decision, not the information the job applicant wants to disclose in a classic resume.” In addition, 70 percent of hourly workers prefer to apply for jobs via mobile devices, Jobaline research shows. Knowing this, make sure that your user interface is mobile-friendly and easy to use. Unless you’re the next Google, you don’t want to scare people away from applying to your job.
3. Vet for Character. Within your mobile interface, ask questions that hone in on promising prospects. Of course, your questions will depend on whom you want to hire. For hourly workers, it’s often more important to recruit for character than job experience. If you find someone who is excited to come to work, lives near the job and has a friendly attitude, for example, they might be a better barista candidate than a barista who has 10 years of experience but is jaded about it.
As recruitment research grows, it will become easier to automatically ask the questions that enable you to hire for character. Xerox, for example, found out that creative types, rather than inquisitive or empathetic people, make better call center workers, according to the Wall Street Journal. So one of Xerox’s new default screening questions asks applicants to choose between: “I ask more questions than most people do” and “People tend to trust what I say.”
4. Hire Fast and Hire Smart. When you reduce your time to hire, you also reduce the amount of money you spend on each hire. In order to recruit the best workers on a tight timeline, you want to know your target audience and establish an interactive and intuitive application experience. Additional tricks include finding references through social media, simplifying the content of your job listing, and vetting job seekers based on their ability to correctly complete the application, follow instructions and be on-time for an interview, whether is an automated interview or a face-to-face one.
5. Build Strict Skill Set Requirements. The Deloitte survey found that of all industries, healthcare companies pay the least per hire. The reason? The medical field has strictly defined skill sets and certifications associated with its workers. You won’t hire an RN if you need an MD. Conversely, if you’re recruiting for a skilled job, but don’t screen out unskilled candidates at the outset, you might waste time interviewing people who were never a good fit in the first place, increasing your time to hire in the process.
In your pre-screening process, ensure that each applicant has the right skills. If you need a forklift driver, make sure that person not only says they know how to do it, but has an OSHA-compliant certification. If you want a cashier who is good at counting, throw a cash counting problem into the mix, and ask him or her to fill in the right answer. If recruiting a retail salesperson, ask him or her to “greet you” as if you were a customer entering the candy shop. Your screening process will be better for it, not to mention faster.
With the right technology and recruiting insights, small businesses can build a pipeline of qualified workers they can tap for both expected needs such as seasonal spikes in business, as well as for unexpected needs such as worker sickness or absence. By directly employing even a few techniques that professional recruiters and hiring experts use, small business owners and managers can streamline the hiring process to maintain a flow of qualified hourly workers, and allow themselves to get back to business.
Luis Salazar is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Jobaline. Luis has worked in emerging and Fortune 500 companies in the high-tech and digital media industries, with successful strategic and tactical expertise in global operations, marketing, and product development.