Telling the truth about SME life today

Why realism is key to your hiring strategy

These five lessons of realistic hiring aim to help entrepreneurs avoid common mistakes SMEs make in their search for their latest team member.

1. Do not assume people want to work for you

Take a step back from the business you created. Why should someone else be excited about it

The passion you feel about your company is important, but dont let it blind you. Not everyone is going to be enthusiastic straight away. Remember there are other businesses out there similar to yours and you arent only competing with them for customers, you are also competing for the best staff.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of placing the responsibility to sell on the jobseeker, but it’s a two-way street. You need to make the candidate excited at the prospect of working for you, before, during and after interviews.

Realise you might be considered a risk in comparison with more established businesses. When conducting interviews, dont be secretive about finances, investment or anything else that can reassure people. At this stage candidates have already committed to interviewing for the company, withholding too much information won’t impress them.

2. Be realistic about your offering

Your business will undoubtedly have a lot to offer job seekers, but a dose of realism is always beneficial. Always remember it is going to be difficult to tempt individuals away from high-salaried roles in large companies. They have security, a good income, and most likely some tempting benefits.

Following on from the first lesson, many SMEs make the mistake of believing candidates will be willing to accept a pay decrease and drop in holiday or other benefits in order to work for an exciting SME or start-up. While candidates will understand that SMEs will not be offering FTSE 100 salaries, they are not going to accept an offer that drastically changes their lifestyle, no matter how much they like your company.

Can you offer the candidate more If not, perhaps look for people with less experience or a different background.

Most of all, never, ever underestimate the importance of benefits. Holiday, healthcare, bonuses, pensions, discounts, they all add up to ensure a candidate feels positively about a job. Look at the benefits other businesses offer, is there anything else you can add Be sure to advertise the benefits on your specifications!?

3. Stand out

This is not as tricky as it sounds. Just remember that when someone is looking for a job, they are going to be reading a large number of adverts and job specifications.
Begin with your job specification. This should not be just a list of the key skills you expect, learning from lesson number one, it also needs to sell the opportunity. What projects will the hire be working on If the role is in IT, what technologies will they be using If the role is in marketing, what are the budgets

Your job adverts and specifications can show some personality and reflect business culture. Do you have company days out Tell them. Do you have baking contests Tell them. This will not only help attract people to the company, but also attract people who will fit in!?

Create some marketing materials about your business and what it is like to work there. These do not have to be expensive, something as simple as a YouTube video can make candidates enthusiastic about joining.

When advertising and informing people about your roles, think about the individuals who are finding out about your job, what do they want to hear

4. Be flexible

When you set out to hire for a role you will undoubtedly have an ideal in mind. You may want your hire to come from a certain company, have gone to a certain university, or have a niche skill.

There is definitely such a thing as being too open in your candidate search, but by sticking to a rigid idea of who you want to hire, you can overlook a candidate who might not fit your perfect profile, but might be great at the job.

Be realistic. Stop hunting around for that elusive perfect candidate, because they dont exist. If you meet someone who ticks eight out of ten boxes, hire them! A few more months down the line and you might realise that the person who wasnt quite there was actually the best you have seen.

5. No business is an island

During your hiring journey you will meet a lot of people, most of whom won’t be suitable for the role. Giving detailed, constructive feedback may seem like a chore, but it can be crucial in making a good name for your company.

Remember that the people you interview may discuss their experience with their industry connections, particularly if the experience was a bad one. If candidates perceive any rudeness or are annoyed by a lack of communication, they will tell their associates, and your company name could be skipped over by those people when they are job hunting.

Make sure your hiring process doesnt give you bad press, even if the interviewee isnt suitable, leave them walking away saying they seem like really great people to work for . You never know who they might tell.

Written by BlueGlue‘s Lauren Hitchman.


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