In a recent Monster survey, 46 percent of respondents "indicated they would actually prefer to work at a business with between six and 100 employees." But despite the desirability, small businesses are at a disadvantage, as many may not have HR departments. They may have a harder time at each stage of the hiring process and have to be creative when it comes to recruiting new employees in particular.
I sought insight from three successful small-business owners who have mastered the recruiting process: Derek Capo, CEO of Next Step China, a study abroad program in Beijing; Erica Douglass, co-CEO of computer repair shop 1Up Repairs in Austin, Texas; and Phillip Oakley, founder and CEO of branding agency Common Giant in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
What Business Owners Consider When Recruiting New Employees
Do you have a recruitment strategy? How did you come up with it?
Derek Capo: Our recruitment strategy consists of reaching out to people who are the most passionate about our industry and mission. We reach out to our community, LinkedIn, current employees or online networks on financial websites.
Erica Douglass: We've hired seven people now, all through word of mouth. Some are college graduates, some aren't. Only one of our previous employees was in a technical position before we hired him. We prefer to hire people who are trustworthy and loyal—our two key values—and train them technically. Our employees have diverse experiences and backgrounds, from a restaurant manager to a veteran to a former security guard.
Phillip Oakley: Common Giant's recruitment strategy is almost completely a byproduct of our brand and culture. The agency world can become a revolving door of talent, which we try to avoid. At Common Giant, we care less about agency pedigree and more about your life experiences and how you learn and adapt from them. I personally decided on this strategy years ago after being in the agency world and seeing incredible talent and humans overlooked.
Where have you found your best employees?
Oakley: Most of our employees have come from internal referrals, but some have reached out without job postings to share interest in our culture. We build relationships through our social media, partners, vendors and networking. Our talent pool has spanned from Chicago to as far as the Philippines.
Douglass: We look for people who are willing to learn and will stick with us for the long term. We've found employees from playing video games and belonging to a car club. It's pretty diverse, but the key for us has been getting out of industry meetups and being willing to train people who want to learn what we do.
Capo: We have found the best employees to be ones that reach out to me personally and are direct with their intentions to work with us. This may seem aggressive, but I think it shows motivation and passion.
What digital techniques do you use to recruit?
Capo: We use email, LinkedIn and message boards. The more personal we are with candidates before they come for the interview, the better.
Oakley: We've posted jobs on our website and shared posts through forums and job posting sites, but our best digital experiences are through social media. Since our work is mostly visual, we can easily share the work as well as behind-the-scenes imagery that shows our culture and how much fun we have.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your recruitment efforts?
Capo: Turnover, or lack of turnover, is the best measure, but we also measure work output. I believe that a great recruitment process isn't just about getting them to the interview. It’s also getting them through training to be a productive employee.
Douglass: We haven't yet had to fire anyone, and so far, none of our employees have quit either. They report high job satisfaction and they're grateful to have been given the chance to learn technical skills that will be key to their future employment. We treat our employees well, and in turn, they love their jobs and treat our customers well.
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