Wondering how to attract the best candidates without breaking the bank? Get some pointers with our handy top ten
Even if you start out as a one-(wo)man-band, if your business takes off pretty soon you’ll be looking to recruit a team to help take it to the next level. But what makes you think the right people for the job will want to come and work for you? Obviously being able to pay world-class wages is a start, but not many start-ups have the luxury of being able to pay over the odds for new hires – and even if the money is right, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put a lot of thought and effort into all the other things that make the difference between a great job, a good job and just a job. Here are some tips on how to attract the right staff to your small business without paying through the nose…
- Have clear, appetising progression opportunities in place from the very start. People will be more committed to your success if they can see what’s in it for them (and like what they see). Making clear that promotion (or perhaps even a stake in the business) is on the cards, and defining what it will take to achieve it, will go a long way towards ensuring long-term dedication. Of course, not keeping your promises can result in instant disaffection, so make sure you’re confident that whatever you put in place will still make sense to you down the line.
- Be as flexible as you can be with working hours and holidays. Allowing your staff to keep as much control as is feasible of their work-life balance will pay dividends (for example, many employees are prepared to accept lower wages in return for more freedom) and will certainly make the role more attractive than one which rigidly enforces a set timetable and places restrictions around when staff can take their holidays.
- Make the workplace as attractive and welcoming as possible. When coming for an interview, or when invited to take a look around prior to a job offer, the potential employee will (even unconsciously) judge you in part on the working environment you’ve created. Nobody wants to work in an unpleasant setting. Keeping a tidy, clean place of work also shows you care about the details, not just the big picture.
- Establish a team environment. OK, you’re the boss – but you shouldn’t be a dictator, and many of the ideas which will take your business on to new heights will at any rate come from those you employ, so encourage them as much as you can. Instituting regular team meetings and structures for feedback will show potential new hires you would be genuinely receptive to their input – especially if you can demonstrate instances where you’ve taken such feedback on board to the benefit of the company.
- Offer a candidate a choice of incentives. Allowing an employee to tailor his/her own package may sound like a ticket to bankruptcy but you can be very smart with incentives – especially if you already have a reward system in place. Allowing a choice between, for example, a bonus of £200, an experience day worth £400 (but for which you’re only paying £200 yourself due to your reward scheme) or an extra couple of days’ holiday will add to the employee’s sense of freedom at no additional cost.
- Provide access to ongoing professional development where appropriate. Everyone wants to feel like they are advancing even when they aren’t necessarily moving up the career ladder. Making clear to potential hires that they will be able to grow professionally will give you a big advantage over other recruiters.
- Select a charity for the company to support, and set aside some time each quarter for relevant activities. People like to feel that they are giving something back – and this will demonstrate the caring side of your business, and of yourself.
- Draw up sensible childcare policies. Any potential employee worth their salt will prioritise their children, so don’t miss out on good hires just because you can’t be flexible in terms of working hours and emergency absences.
- Involve other employees (if you have them) in the recruitment process. Candidates will be reassured if they feel that those already hired are capable and friendly – and, more subtly, when they see that you place enough trust in your staff to allow them into such a key process.
- Be open and honest about your goals from the start– and be realistic. If a candidate asks you where you see your company in five years’ time, and you can offer a realistic, and ambitious, strategy, they’ll feel much more confident about signing up for the long-term. Blustering about world domination, or umming and ahing without any firm targets, will set alarm bells ringing very quickly.
Words: Jamie Liddell
This article was first published in Your Business with James Caan in January 2012.