Sunday 22 April 2018

Eight ways for small firms to boost their hiring capability

Picture posed
Picture posed

Mike McDonagh

NOW that we're into February, many Irish companies are now in the final stages of mapping out their strategic plans for the year ahead, including their recruitment goals for 2016.

For many SMEs, this might be a challenge, given vulnerability to the vagaries of the economy.

However, with the forecast for further improvement, now is the time for SMEs to be thinking about how they can hire the staff they need to take advantage of the opportunities that will come their way.

The results from a new Hays Ireland survey suggests that, unfortunately, 68pc of SMEs rate their own recruitment methods as "average at best".

With this in mind, I'm outlining eight areas where SMEs can boost their chances of hiring the right person, the first time.

1 Plan your process

You might not have the luxury of a hiring strategy for the year, but it's worth thinking about what you might need in the coming months. A financial quarter of strong sales or profit might be the indicator to consider hiring. Find out if some of the skills you are looking for are present in the business. Then decide if you can set aside the time required to hire someone, and help new hires settle in and get up to speed as quickly as possible.

2 Write a great specification

Don't make the mistake of throwing a couple of bullet points on a Word document to solve a current issue. Think about the value any new hire will bring, not just on day one, but also month six and month 12 and year three. There will be subtle differences but it's great to have this vision in mind.

3 Write a great job ad

Your job specification is NOT your job ad. Please take some time to write a compelling advert that will attract someone to read it and then apply. Sell your organisation and the role - you're in a competitive environment!

4 Network your job

Where are you going to put your ad? Go inside the mind of your ideal candidate and imagine where they'd be looking for a job. Don't underestimate your personal network, share the job with contacts and also your existing staff so they can use their networks.

5 Acknowledge all applications

Possibly one of the major bugbears of candidates is that they don't hear back from a company when they've submitted an application. I appreciate and acknowledge that recruitment agencies can be guilty of this too.

But if you're an SME operating in a small industry sector or, more pressingly, a small geographic area, your "employer brand" is intrinsically linked to a positive "candidate experience". This is not just people you bring for interview, but everyone who has enquired about the job.

6 Batch your interviews

Spreading your interviews around your diary for the next month will hamper a selection process. When you make the decision to hire, plan for your interviews and factor in a day or two when you can do back-to-back interviews. It'll make the choice easier.

7 Get a second opinion

It's human nature for interviewers to choose someone they like (this isn't necessarily a bad thing), but it helps to be more objective. If you can use the same questions for every candidate and score them you'll be more impartial. You could get someone else into the process for an independent view. Affirming your thoughts is of value.

8 Make a quick decision

I've been shocked at how quickly the employment market is moving since we returned to work after Christmas. If you're going time on a hiring process, try and design it so that you can make a quick decision. Unnecessary delays will almost certainly mean you'll miss out on the candidate you want and your time (and money) could be wasted. No SME I know can afford this.

Mike McDonagh is a director with Hays Ireland. The above tips are just a taster from a toolkit, called the Recruitment Roadmap, which Hays Ireland launched today.

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