Helping small businesses attract talent (yes, you can actually do it!)


Recently, I was contacted by to help share some of my expertise on hiring.  They had polled their small business network and had come up with a list of commonly asked questions.  

Here’s a bit about my background before we get into it.  I have over 12+ years of experience as a people manager at a large financial institution, where I took on roles of increasing responsibility.  My success was derived from my ability to build winning teams.  I was able to recruit and talent manage both small and large scale teams into highly motivated and engaged employees.

Here are the questions that were provided by that focused on advertising open positions and reaching the right audience:

Finding people with the right skills (address both hourly workers and professionals)

  • Hire for the will, not skill is an important mindset when hiring (unless you’re hiring for a very technical position). Most people will get good doing any job if they’ve done it for 5-10 yrs, so asking for someone with previous experience isn’t always the best strategy.  We have to be aware of our own confirmation biases as a hiring manager, which is in the first 5 min of an interview we’ve already made a decision on the candidate and spend the rest of the 25 min attempting to confirm those biases.  That is not a logical or efficient way to hire especially if you are a smaller business without the advantage of a large brand name.  

How important is creating a job description before starting to hire?  

  • The job description should describe exactly what the role entails.  Your day to day, your expectations on where the role can lead to, etc.  I’ve seen too many job descriptions with generic language or catchy words, trying to be different.  Just tell it like it is.

When creating a job description what’s the single most important question to ask yourself?

  • As mentioned above, the job description should describe exactly what the role entails.   I would also include the fact that you need to sell the company and the culture.  Not sure what your company or culture is?  Doesn’t matter the size of your business, every company should have something.  

How do you convey “non-negotiable” elements of the job description up front without scaring away potential candidates? (eg. required hours of availability)

  • You have to be honest about it.  No one wants to find out day 1 that the hours are different or whatever that may be.  Being honest about the expectations and the why is the best way to convince someone.

What are the best ways to incentivize current employees to help recruit others?

  • Definitely not by paying them for referrals.  That is a terrible idea and never gains traction or gets half hearted attempts at sending referrals for the sake of sending one in.  If you create an environment and culture in your company that is fun, transparent, allows for growth, etc. then your people will want to refer other good people to work at the company.  It’s easier said than done but if you are about the team and building that culture you can accomplish this.  Again, doesn’t matter the size of the company but as a leader if you can build and sustain a workplace where people enjoy coming to work, then you should have less recruitment problems.
Stephen BehComment