16/10/10

By Christian Nellemann, founder and CEO of XLN Business Services,

1. Where to start?
First you should assess: Do I really need to hire someone? You’ll have to think about what jobs you can get done yourself and what you can get done by freelancers. Accounting, manufacturing, web-site design, marketing and public relations can all be completed by freelancers nowadays for a one-off payment. Deciding what to outsource and when to hire an employee will come down to whether you need continuous work on these areas or not.

2. Flexibility
Often, flexible candidates who are used to smaller environments are often suited to smaller companies. Business owners want employees who can deal with multiple job roles without having their hand held. With your first hire, it will be tempting to pick a candidate with big-business credentials and experience on their CV. But think: Is this candidate a good fit for a small business? Things like high salary expectations and benefits may be expected which many business owners can’t commit to, I certainly couldn’t when I began to hire. As a first hire in a growing business, employees may not have solid job title/role and may need to do a bit of everything. Smaller businesses do have their perks though! They are less bureaucratic and employees will find they have more breadth in their jobs than they usually do in big companies. Managers tend to have closer relationships with their employees and with this there is the potential for high growth within the business.

3. Networking
A great way to meet potential new employees is through networking. Ask your friends, family and industry colleagues for referrals or introductions. If they recommend somebody, they’ve helped you with some of the leg work by screening them. In my experience, if an employee recommends someone, there’s a much higher likelihood that person will be successful in the job. Why? They get a more honest perspective of the company from a current employee, and in most cases an employee is going to recommend only someone he or she thinks will be successful, to avoid tarnishing their own reputation. At XLN we give our staff a bonus if they refer a friend who gets the job and completes their probation period. It’s an easy and inexpensive way of recruiting the best people. But no matter how well-connected your employees are, eventually the internal network becomes exhausted.

4. Agencies
When this happens, you can consider online job boards, specific to the industry or job you are hiring for. Larger job boards like Monster.com, while having advantages, can bring an overload of CVs. And a smaller business will not likely have the time to sort through all of these. Smaller sites can narrow your interested applicants to those in your industry or area. Also keep an eye on blogs and websites in your industry. Some offer a place for help-wanted postings. Local newspapers and trade publications may also be useful sources, depending on your needs. Or if you’re very pushed for time, recruiters can do all the legwork for you (for a fee).