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How do small businesses develop a strong recruitment strategy?

Attracting a diverse group of qualified applicants in a competitive labor market requires a strong recruitment strategy. Developing a strong recruitment strategy requires research and planning. Businesses need to identify their needs, research where to find applicants that can fill those needs, then learn about what those applicants need to be happy at work. From there, an action plan needs to be developed that addresses the findings in order to attract the talent. The following tips can help employers develop their recruitment strategy:

Identify business needs To identify a business's needs, hiring managers should talk to current employees, review performance metrics, and research the market and competitors. Asking employees about their experiences may be complicated, but this is perhaps the most valuable resource employers can utilize to understand what will attract prospective employees. Additionally, current employees may be able to provide insights to lower turnover rates.

Once the business needs are identified, creating clear, concise job descriptions will help job seekers find relevant job ads. Reviewing a competitor's job ads may provide insights into how to get an edge in the market. Job ads or descriptions should list the duties of the job and the expectations for the role. Job ads should also provide information about: 

  • The business itself.
  • Pay range.
  • Benefits.
  • The prospective hire's team.
  • Potential projects.
  • Growth opportunities.
  • Work environment.

Listing the skills that are most important for applicants to succeed on the job along with a detailed description shows potential hires that their time is valued and may weed out applicants that are not qualified for the job.

Research job ad placement When a business has a job ad ready, researching the best places to advertise it will depend on the candidates being sought. Businesses actively recruiting should not just rely on job searchers finding their ads, but rather should do everything they can to ensure their ads are being seen by the candidates they want. One of the most important parts of a recruitment strategy is identifying the appropriate audience for your job posting. Entry level and administrative positions may be well suited to large online job boards, local college career centers, or community job fairs. But senior or specialized positions may need a more targeted approach. One of the best ways to find and recruit top talent in a given field is through word of mouth; ask employees, friends, online social network connections, and colleagues to spread the word about your job opening. You may want to advertise on industry-specific websites and at networking events. Spending some money to advertise a job ad in the right place can pay off not only by improving the applicant pool, but may also lead to lower turnover and cost savings in the long run.

Follow through and up When applications are received, businesses should make every effort to respond to every applicant promptly and personally, if possible. There is no need to explain why an applicant was not selected, but following up promptly may lead a rejected candidate to refer another candidate who may be better qualified, or to apply for another position that may be better suited to their qualifications.

After hiring a candidate, employers need to ensure that the workload, duties, and benefits match the description in the ad, otherwise new hires may quit when they discover the inconsistency. In a tight labor market, employees have more opportunities and will look elsewhere if they are dissatisfied.

What are some ways to impress top talent during an interview?

The interview is as much an opportunity for a small business to impress potential hires as for them to impress their interviewer. When the labor market is tight, employers may find themselves being interviewed. Follow these tips to demonstrate that your business is the one they want to work for:

Be flexible The COVID-19 pandemic has limited many individuals' capacity and willingness to travel or visit indoor spaces. If possible, allow candidates to interview remotely instead of requiring them to come into an office. Businesses may also consider more flexibility than usual in rescheduling interviews in response to family obligations or emergencies.

Be organized — The applicant and everyone else participating should know when, where, and how the interview will occur. If remote, send candidates and interviewers an email with the video conference link or dial-in number well in advance of the scheduled start time. Structure the interview around the job's responsibilities and the candidate's qualifications.

Be prepared Read the candidate's application materials before the interview and develop a list of questions. If more than one person interviews the applicant, divy up the questions so the interviewee does not have to answer the same questions multiple times.

Answer questions honestly — Top candidates will have questions about the job and the business. Prepare answers to the applicant's potential questions before the interview, and follow up with answers to questions that cannot be answered during the interview.

Follow up promptly — Be open with candidates about when they can expect to hear back after the interview. Then, do so as quickly as possible even if you do not plan to offer the candidate the job. Keeping candidates informed of the timeline for hiring is an easy way to show potential hires that a business values their time.

How can businesses research competitive pay and benefits?

The best way to attract and retain top talent is to pay employees what they are worth or more than competitors. There are several ways to determine a competitive salary for your open position. Apart from looking up a competitor's job ads, there are online tools and resources that provide rough estimates of what a potential hire expects for compensation in a given location and industry. Some of these tools only provide baseline information. This means a business may need to adjust the pay based on the experience and duties required as well as the quality of the talent and the local market rates.

While competitive pay is the most important factor for most applicants, offering better benefits than competitors is a good way to attract potential hires. Common benefits like health, dental and vision insurance, life insurance, retirement plans, and reimbursement for work expenses can be supplemented with additional benefits. Offering employees a stake in your business, such as stock options, can serve the dual purpose of encouraging them to work hard to make your business successful and rewarding them for their efforts. You can also offer a Bonus Plan so employees can share in the success of the business.

Businesses, however, are not limited to only offering the standard benefits. Be creative about additional benefits. Offering valuable benefits like childcare, gym memberships, commuter benefits, or Rocket Lawyer Group Legal Benefits, can set a business apart and show employees that their employer cares about employee well-being. 

Be open to negotiating pay and benefits packages with promising applicants. Different packages will work for different individuals at different times in their lives. For instance, a young, single candidate may have little use for life insurance and prefer the premium added to a paycheck. But that same benefit may be extremely important to a parent with young children.

How can a business's policies promote work/life balance?

Promoting a strong work/life balance will attract and retain talented, loyal employees. It also increases productivity by reducing burnout and improving morale. Here are some tips to achieve an optimal balance:

Measure success by productivity and output — Except for the handful of jobs that require constant engagement or onsite work, such as security guards, cashiers, or administrative assistants, what matters most is that the work gets done right, not when an employee does it. Whenever possible, give employees the flexibility to structure their work around their lives.

Offer remote work or teleworking — For many positions, employees may be able to do their work from anywhere. Allowing remote work provides employees with autonomy to manage their own schedules and workload, which, in turn, allows for better work/life balance.

Encourage frequent short breaks Research shows that sustained, focused work punctuated by short breaks maximizes productivity. Encouraging employees to regularly take short walks, snack or meal breaks, or water breaks can make a big difference in morale and improve productivity.

Manage workflow and workloads Modern work may consist primarily of managing an overflowing email inbox. Move communication about key projects out of email inboxes and into project management tools.

Solicit honest feedback — Ask employees what works for them and what does not. Fostering an open door policy for suggestions and feedback can lead to great ideas from unexpected places. Businesses can also send out employee surveys annually to allow staff to anonymously provide feedback. 

Be a good role model — Owners and managers set the tone in any business. If management responds to email at all hours, never takes breaks or vacations, and constantly hacks away at a never ending task list, employees will assume that the same is expected of them. Managers need to set a good example by maintaining a balance between personal time and professional responsibilities.

How can businesses better utilize their current talent?

The perfect person for a position might already be an employee. Hiring and promoting internally has many benefits, including motivating current employees interested in career growth. Existing employees know the business, including processes, policies, and personalities. They may also have established relationships with clients and customers.

It is smart to advertise job postings internally before making them public. Managers may want to encourage particular employees to apply, or an employee may know someone who is perfect for the role. 

What are the best strategies for offering remote work or telecommuting?

The pandemic has made remote work the rule in many industries instead of a rare exception. Letting employees work remotely can increase flexibility, reduce overhead, and improve morale. But it can also be harrowing since it reduces employer oversight or control during working hours. The following tips can help businesses facilitate remote work for employees without sacrificing productivity or peace of mind:

Set and communicate clear expectations Even more than in-office work, remote work requires clear, upfront expectations. Establish a Work From Home Policy that addresses what work employees will produce, when that work is due, and how responsive they should be while doing it. The policy may specify who is responsible for ensuring remote employees have what they need at home to do their jobs. If a company policy does not work, individual employees can be offered Work from Home Agreements as needed.

Stay organized — Set up systems that provide transparency for what remote employees are working on. This may be as simple as requiring employees to update an online task board, shared calendar, or a project management tool.

Don't micromanage Knowing what employees work on and when to expect them to be finished is not micromanagement. Remote work requires trust. Employers should set clear expectations and not digitally hover over employee shoulders.

Provide a way to collaborate and socialize Working remotely can be lonely. Unlike in the office environment, employees do not have face-to-face interactions. Set up online spaces for messaging and video conferences to allow remote employees to collaborate, socialize, and celebrate successes.

Recruiting the right people is critical to any business's success. If you need help identifying ways to attract and retain top talent, reach out to a Rocket Lawyer On Call® attorney to review your hiring policies and practices.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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