01/08/2014

By Dr Jill Miller, Research Adviser, CIPD

Maintaining a clear and consistent approach to recruiting employees helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) flourish and succeed. In the early stages of growth, when you may be struggling to keep up with customer demand, it can be tempting to hire people quickly without considering if they’re truly right for your business. However, the impact of making a pressured choice can be huge — putting the long-term success of your business at risk.

The following top tips are designed to help you hire the right people for your business. They are based on the experiences of the small businesses we spoke to as part of our latest research, ‘Recruiting and developing talented people for your SME’.

1. Look beyond technical capability.

Take the time to find people with not only the right skills and experience for your business but, more importantly, people who fit in with your organisational culture and values – they are the applicants who are most likely to hit the ground running and help you grow. Think about the attitudes and values which have driven your business from the start as this can help you identify people who are the right fit for you. For example, UKFast looks for candidates with the ‘paper round gene’ who have shown the willingness and energy to work since a young age, as its business thrives on people taking initiative and thinking on their feet.

2. Tell applicants what it’s really like to work for your business.

To attract the right talent, it is important to highlight why your business is a unique and great place to work. This will give applicants clear and honest expectations about your business, which means they are more likely to stay. Some of the small businesses we spoke to have a social media presence; some have a values section on their company website, or a podcast or employee video talking about what it is really like to work there; some establish links with local schools and colleges, others enter awards to achieve independent recognition for being a great place to work.

3. Take a consistent approach to recruitment.

As your business grows, and more managers become responsible for hiring, it’s important that you’re identifying and recruiting the right talent across the whole company. Find ways to help your managers make the right hires, for example, think about introducing a bespoke authorisation process which forces managers to develop a thorough business case for every role or develop a score card which can be used to match applicants with your company values during the interview process.

4. Identify people who can grow with your business.

This approach will help you find the skills your company needs today as well as people who can build a long-term career in your business. Look for applicants, for example, who have demonstrated a willingness to learn new skills and who are willing to try new opportunities— this will help you recruit staff that can grow into different roles as your business’ requirements change.

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