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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best Practice Hiring for the Small Business (Part 1 of 5)

Posted by Sarah Conroy on 10/15/2011 1:46:00 PM

Whether you need to replace that one valuable, retiring employee, or you need to meet growing demand, permanent or seasonal, you will want a recruitment plan, however informal. As a smart business owner, you already have succession and staffing plans, managing them to meet demand, but you will want to be sure you make room in your plans for blips in your labor force resulting from the unforeseen, like employee leaves, voluntary quits and as we saw in the recent past, military call ups. As I have explored already in this blog, quantifying HR expenses like the cost of job vacancies will help you make wise business decisions in HR just as you do throughout your enterprise.

With the economy in a slump, you will have more response to recruitment efforts than you have need, so your recruitment efforts should be focused to take advantage of the supply and target your approach to the most qualified candidates. In the past with so few applicant sourcing options available, the work to qualify applicants was done primarily between an advertisement and the creation of an applicant pool from the results. Businesses do much more now to determine need and approach on the front end so that ads and other efforts, including social media use, are much more targeted in order to generate fewer, closer matches. These increased opportunities do bring challenges as we’ll see as we talk about what is appropriate to screen for and what is not. For example, you may have seen recent news reports about employers requiring applicants to be presently employed in order to be considered. While this is not illegal right now in Maine, there is a movement across state legislatures in the US to make it so as well as some pending federal incentives to hire those not currently employed.

Planning the Hire

Vacancies are opportunities. First off, you will want to decide whether to hire now or wait. Depending on the vacancy, it might be absorbed by your business for a while or permanently. It might also create an entirely different opening depending on how the duties are absorbed or changed. If the decision is to hire now, determine whether the need is temporary or permanent and whether you will direct hire, even if temporary.

Once you have decided to move forward and know what your need is, there are some questions you want to settle before you invite applications depending on the state of your hiring process. Here is a MINI-CHECKLIST of items to settle now:

  • When do you want to fill the position by and are you willing to stand by that?
  • Who is on the interview team and, of this team, what is each member involvement and access to information about the candidate and the position particulars (salary etc.)?
  • Is the position description up to date and competency based? (more on this in previous blog on this topic here)
  • Who is the hire’s manager and how does this fit into the company’s org chart?
  • How is the decision to hire made and who makes it? (please see subsequent posts for more on evaluating candidates)
  • What must be done up front to ensure this person, YOUR INVESTMENT, succeeds? (Think about your culture, do you want a fit or do you want change? Do you want someone to go beyond and bring more or will that not be valued and supported?)
  • Do you have a confidential application process?
  • How is this process different for those applying from within the company?
  • What is your screening process like –
    • Do you have an application form, either paper or electronic and is it up to date?
    • Will you accept felons for certain positions or not?
    • Are you willing to sponsor a visa for the right candidate?
    • Are you willing to offer relo for the right candidate?
    • What tools might you be using to help screen candidates and are you certain they are being done legally?, e.g. –
      • Social media use
      • Criminal background checks
      • Credit checks
      • Pre-employment physicals
      • Drug screens
      • Reference checks
  • What can you do to accommodate the right candidate? (I covered this in detail in the August & September blogs here. )
  • Will you prepare offer letters?
  • How will you record and retain the applicant information?
In our next posts, more on how to carry out some of the above if you do not already have tools and approaches in place.

Sarah Conroy, SPHR, CEBS
SHRM Maine State Government Affairs Director

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