Is it time to go on a hiring spree? While the answer will be different for every business owner, you could make some arguments that now isn't a bad time.
For instance, unemployment is low—at the moment of this writing, 4.4 percent—and some economists have even suggested that we may be at “full employment," or at least near it. This means it's going to get harder to find employees as the calendar pages keep turning.
But if you are going on a hiring spree, you may want to think through a few issues first. Adding new members to your team can be exciting, but complicated, too.
1. Start the hiring spree process as soon as possible.
It may take you longer to hire employees than you anticipated. If you want to go on a hiring spree in a few months, then now may actually be the perfect time to start recruiting employees.
“Just-in-time hiring doesn't happen anymore without planning and process," says Ira Wolfe, president of Success Performance Solutions, an employment-testing firm based out of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. (He is also the author of the upcoming book, Recruiting in the Age of Googlization: When the Shift Hits Your Plan.)
“The competition for talent is fierce," Wolfe says. “Whether a company is seeking to fill one position or thousands, attracting the right audience, screening and selecting applicants and then on-boarding them takes time, no matter how efficient and sophisticated the strategy."
Wolfe points out that because so many people are employed, many men and women aren't looking or responding to ads on job boards. As a general rule, people are seeking and discovering new job opportunities through word of mouth, such as social networks, he says. That's why Wolfe suggests offering those opportunities online.
“Effective recruitment today requires 365/24/7 marketing," Wolfe says. “It's the rare company that can flip a switch and attract a qualified labor pool."
2. Pay close attention to the career portion of your website.
The application part of your website needs to be responsive and mobile friendly if you want people to apply for jobs, Wolfe says.
And when it comes to the application, Wolfe recommends avoiding having too many questions or it being too onerous and lengthy of a process to get through. From his experience, he has found that if you have more than 10 to 15 questions, and if it takes more than 15 minutes to fill out, you may have greater than a 50 percent abandonment rate.
3. Put on a job fair.
Do you really need to hire a lot of people at once? You could hold a job fair or participate in one.
Colin Gold has used this strategy over the course of his 30+ years working in the hotel industry. Gold is now the owner of the consultancy Gold Level Hospitality in Miami Lakes, Florida, but before that, he opened numerous hotels that had to be staffed with many people in a short period of time.
—Melissa Davies, president, Wise Ways Consulting
When his hotels had job fairs, he always made sure they had a room where all of the decision makers were, he says.
“If a candidate was selected to continue on the hiring process, we were able to have all of the interviews on the same day in the same place," Gold says. “We made sure good candidates never had a chance to leave without meeting all of the players."
And by having the key decision makers in one room, Gold says that hiring decisions could be made in the moment. Candidates might be offered a position or another interview before they ever left the job fair.
4. Pay attention to who you're hiring—even if you're on a hiring spree.
Try to resist the temptation to hire a bunch of people without scrutinizing whether they're truly right for the job, Gold says.
“Good hires will make the transition smoother for everyone," he says.
At the same time, Gold acknowledges that if you're staffing up a big organization like a hotel, not everyone will be a great fit.
“You will hire people that don't make it. Just do your best to hire more of the ones who will," he says.
Even though you may be in a rush, try not to rush. In other words, consider focusing on more than filling slots, says Stan Kimer, president of Total Engagement Consulting by Kimer, a diversity and career development consultancy based out of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina.
Kimer says that before he started his consultancy in 2010, he worked at a large multinational tech company for 31 years. As an employee, he once had to build and hire an entire department from scratch. When it comes to hiring qualified people, he advises against cutting corners. Subpar employees, he suggests, can do more damage than leaving the slot open.
Kimer also stresses the importance of diversity as you're hiring a lot of people. It isn't just that it's the right thing to do—it can help make your company stronger, Kimer asserts.
“Building a team with different skills, backgrounds, longevity [and] demographics will result in a better team that can bring forward better ideas and solutions, as well as better serve diverse clients or customers," he says.
There's another reason why you probably don't want to rush a hiring spree. If you aren't prepared to bring everyone aboard, and it's a stressful experience for all involved, it may not be good for your long-term prospects of keeping your employees, says Karl Sakas, president of Sakas & Company, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based consultancy for marketing and advertising firms.
When you hire more than three employees at once, you may want to pay attention to how everyone comes aboard and offer an orientation and coaching, Sakas advises.
“The extra time will pay off. A structured employee on-boarding process helps you reduce employee turnover," Sakas says.
In fact, Sakas recently took on a client whose agency grew from 10 to 30 people in two years, almost 80 percent annual growth. But the company wasn't strategic in its hiring, and now there have been problems.
"Employees aren't sure who's in charge of what," Sakas says. "Clients are unhappy about quality problems, and two project managers quit in the same week. Everyone's stressed out."
Sakas says that he is working with the owner to improve the way the business is running and to make sure that any future hiring spree is managed better.
5. Consider all the costs, not just the salaries.
Yes, if you're hiring a lot of people, your payroll will go way up—but so will everything else. You may have to give a lot of human resources hours to preparing administrative paperwork like W-2s, W-4s, I-9s and state income tax forms on hand for your new employees to fill out.
Along with that, you may have to fork over additional revenue on office furniture, business software and perhaps special equipment or uniforms that your employees use. There may also be training costs associated with a hiring spree, including losing productivity until the new employees are in sync with everyone else.
Before going on a hiring spree, make sure your organization can absorb all of those costs and changes, advises Melissa Davies, president of Wise Ways Consulting, based out of Woodbridge, Virginia. Davies works with corporations and federal agencies, including the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Federal Reserve Board.
Granted, your operation may be a wee bit smaller than some of Davies' clients, but her message is still applicable.
“Do people know who reports to whom?" she asks. “Who is responsible for what? Before people can stay in their respective lanes, they need to know what those lanes are."
She adds, “Do you have enough supervisors and managers in place? Are they trained? Do they know how to manage and lead?"
In other words, make sure that you're prepared before you bring a slew of new employees aboard. If you are ready, your hiring spree could usher in an era of growth and prosperity. But if you aren't prepared, you could be looking at a hiring spree that someday turns into a firing spree.
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