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Recruiting is always a big deal; there is pressure to find the right ‘fit’, someone who will work with your company culture, be productive and contribute to your business. But recruitment is perhaps an even bigger deal in an SME.
If you are the business owner, it’s very personal. Maybe the hire is your first employee or perhaps it’s a new, strategic appointment to help grow the business. Margins are tighter, costs are crucial and you’re sharing your ‘baby’ with someone, the investment has to be right.
We all like to think we’ve got recruitment nailed, especially if you are, in fact, a recruiter. You do this for a living right?! But what happens when it’s closer to home?
Here are the top 7 mistakes you can make when recruiting, and how you can avoid them.
We know that first impressions count and that generally, these are made within the first few seconds of meeting someone. Also, we tend to gravitate towards people like ourselves and those we consider to be positive, fun and forward looking. Basically, like-minded people we would see ourselves as friends with.
So mistake #1 is recruiting a new friend. Remember your new hire is not a new buddy; they are there to do a job, something that may not be your skill set but is right up their street.
Solution: Use standard interview questions, the same for everyone so you can compare candidates, and/ or use a psychometric assessment to evaluate the fit with the job role.
Whilst the first point urges you to use your head over your heart and recruit objectively, mistake number 2 is playing it safe when recruiting. Going for Candidate A who ticks all the boxes on paper and should do an adequate job for you. They’re less risky than Candidate B who ticks most of the boxes. There is something about Candidate B that isn’t as safe but they are bright, sparky and have fire in their belly. How likely are you to play it safe?
Solution: tune into your intuition and ask yourself am I playing it safe here? What opportunity or risk is there in going for option B?
Mistake number 3 when recruiting, is not being clear enough about who you need. You generate a loose job description, using ‘fluffy’ language (like wizard or guru), and then post it on your website and maybe the odd job board. What if your sales strategy was as haphazard as this?
Ask yourself focused questions like: What sort of person am I looking for? What skill set do they need? Where do they hang out?
Even better is to come up with a missing person profile (this tip courtesy of the book ‘Turn Your Passion To Profit’ by the brilliant Corrina Gordon Barnes). Put as much detail as you can to this missing person; build their picture with visuals and must-haves. Then tailor your message specifically to that person and speak to them where they can hear you, whether that’s Facebook, industry forums or local events. Incidentally this strategy also works fantastically for sales!
Solution: Make up a missing person profile to laser in on who you need and where to find them
You asked your candidate if they had the appropriate skill set; they said yes and backed it up with examples. They have relevant experience and qualifications, so why should you check? Sadly, statistics show that up to 1 in 3 adults admit to lying on their CV* so, at best, some facets may be over inflated.
Diligent candidates will be well rehearsed in giving you flawless interview answers too. It’s only when the individual starts work that they may be found wanting. They might not know one end of a spreadsheet from another, or their spelling might be dreadful.
Verifying skill level is an easy way to be sure that your candidate is competent; it reduces risk of relying on a CV and interview alone and it’s an unbiased way to compare candidates and aid your decision making
Solution: Assess your candidates skill level and competency
On the theme of checking, if you know your candidate will need relevant safety or disclosure and barring checks (previously known as CRB checks), get these done sooner rather than later.
Another recruitment pitfall is finding a fantastic fit skill, behaviour and experience wise, then having it all come crashing down. The same goes for reference checks. As much as we like to think we could see through a fake, it does happen.
Solution: Run your background and safety checks early
On-boarding is a buzzword at the moment and rightly so. Recruiting doesn’t end with the offer being made and accepting. Our next recruitment blunder is failure to plan what happens when your new team member joins. Yes, it’s all busyness running a business and you’re spinning a crazy amount of plates but it’s vital to plan your new starter’s initial journey. Don’t be one of the 80% of company leaders who offer a sub-standard induction (hat tip to Roots and Wings mentoring for the stat). Plan the induction; perhaps a supported induction programme, consider what kit your colleague will need in terms of technology and literature, who will they spend time with, will someone act as mentor, what blend of learning, doing and observing feels right?
Solution: Develop a detailed on-boarding and induction strategy
Continuing the theme of on-boarding, our last recruitment mistake is to not define what a successful new recruit will do. You’re too vague, going for something along the lines of ‘I just need someone to do my marketing’. Get specific: the successful new recruit will define the marketing strategy, develop a sustained social media presence, increase web traffic by x%, write and distribute a minimum of 12 press releases per year…. And so on. This clarity ensures you are both heading in the same direction.
Solution: Define what your new recruit has to do to be considered successful
*Survey by the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors
Over to you, what have you learnt about recruiting into your SME? What’s worked brilliantly or is something you would never do again?