Clearing small business hiring hurdles

By Sue Griffith, SVP, Human Resources

One estimate holds that “onboarding” employees – including training, benefits, equipment, bonuses, taxes and more – costs 1.5 to 3 times the salary of that position.

Making the right hiring decisions is key for any business. For small businesses, the importance of hiring is immensely magnified. Small companies like yours are only as good as their best employees. Adding the best employees is critical to ensuring your business climbs the ladder of growth and success. But finding precisely the right talent is difficult. And if you hire the wrong employee, the time and cost of replacing that staff member can slow or even halt your expansion, at least for a while.

Clearly, there’s much riding on making the right decision. How much? One estimate holds that “onboarding” – including training, benefits, equipment, bonuses, taxes and more -- costs 1.5 to 3 times the salary of that position. That’s a not-insignificant outlay for small businesses, the very enterprises that tend to be most cash strapped.

An ADP study revealed small company owners tend to see hiring as more difficult and time-consuming than anticipated. Some 70 percent face challenges during the hiring process. Only 2 in 10 small companies have staff members who possess human resources or hiring experience. Seventy to ninety percent do not benefit from hiring tools and resources. Instead, they continue to undertake hiring tasks manually.

It isn’t surprising small businesses face these challenges. Without the size to justify dedicated recruiting teams, standardized and consistent processes, and tools designed specifically for the recruiting and hiring function, every hiring opportunity is addressed differently. As a result, different staff members, various hiring strategies and differing interview questions are involved, with wildly divergent results frequently being the outcome.

The specific hiring hurdles faced by any one small business are likely to be experienced by many small businesses. They include a lack of formalized processes to guide the hiring process, which may result in unequal approaches to different job candidates and a concern that Obamacare and their size may render them less competitive for recruits than their larger competitors.

Hiring a headhunter or recruiter on a temporary full- or part-time basis can serve small businesses well by freeing up the time of the managers. But their fees are not always within the budgets of small businesses frequently struggling with ongoing cash flow issues.

Despite the continuing hiring headwinds faced by small businesses, positive news is on the horizon. Newly developed hiring tools, such as cost-effective hiring software and continually evolving social media channels, offer small businesses the opportunity to upgrade and professionalize their hiring processes. While hiring hurdles will be different for every small company, each is likely to profit in some way from digital age solutions not available to predecessors traversing the journey from small to larger business.

The Digital Divide

As the Business News Daily reported, “it’s all about digital.” The continual forward march of technology impacts the ways companies search for talent and hire employees.

Digital resources can offer far more in-depth detail about candidates than can old paper resumes. In fact, fluid representations of experience levels, talents, ongoing education and interests -- all stored entirely in digital domains – are replacing paper resumes entirely. Leading-edge small companies are tapping social media channels, big data repositories and other tech tools to gain deeper insights into job candidates than could ever be afforded through traditional screening processes. Even the interview is going digital. First-round and out-of-town job seekers are increasingly being screened through recorded one-way video interviews that can be watched at the convenience of hirers, or live, two-way webcam interviews that mimic real world in-person interviews.

Because quick-and-easy hiring experiences are valued by the strongest candidates, small businesses can better position themselves to attract the best talent by expediting the recruitment-hiring process. Integrated platforms that include candidate job portals, employee onboarding portals and employee referral networks can all be crucial contributors to making the hiring undertaking faster and more convenient for candidates.

Recruitment Software. Software that automates the hiring process was once the sole province of large, or larger, companies. Today, however, the evolution of digital products that can govern every business function has helped make recruitment and hiring technology cost effective for even the smallest of companies. Simply put, recruitment software has never been more affordable. For instance, the oft-recommended software product known as Workable lets you browse detailed candidate profiles and collaborate with those on your hiring team, who can use the software as a one-stop place to see and retain notes, comments, schedule and analytics.

Other important recruiting software programs for small business include: Comeet, known for a level of simplicity and ease of use that allows employees to master the software in a few minutes; Lever, particularly well suited to forging collaboration between leaders and the employees helping make hiring decisions; and BambooHR, a software program that helps small business make and keep track of hires.

Company Websites. Don’t overlook your company’s website as an immensely viable talent acquisition asset. Job candidates seek to research your company as much as your company does them. View your website not just as a marketing tool aimed at customers, but as a recruitment tool you can leverage to attract the best candidates through your site’s career page. Don’t just say “We’re hiring,” but give a sense of the job satisfaction employees enjoy. Detailed insights about company products, history, culture, community giveback and more can help entice job seekers toward your team.

Social Media. The same goals can be met through blogs, white papers, case histories, news items, marketing videos and other content distributed via popular social media channels.

Speaking of social media, many companies make their Facebook and other social media pages into hiring assets by using jobs tabs on those pages. Their hiring software can interface with social media sites to update job listings on those sites automatically.

Closing Thoughts

Finally, don’t fail to turn the often-overlooked advantages of working for small business into selling points for your company. Among those many upsides: access to the boss; greater job flexibility; the opportunity to take on more responsibility; and the chance for staff to discover their strengths and gain invaluable entrepreneurial experience.

Use most or all of these hiring tools, techniques and tactics, and your company may discover why today more than ever, it’s a whole new day for small business hiring.