So your company is growing and things are really taking off, now it’s time to hire some staff. But how can you get quality team members if you can’t offer the big bucks? As a small business, you have the ability to work some magic and provide benefits that matter more than dollars. Consider offering telecommuting or flexible schedules. This could draw in strong applicants that find these small, but meaningful, perks more valuable than more zeros in their check.

Recruitment and hiring is challenging for companies of all sizes, but it can be especially trying for small businesses that often lack the ability to offer competitive salaries to attract and retain top talent. At the same time, finding the right fit and skillset for the job is especially critical for smaller businesses since they rely so heavily on every employee. Standardizing recruitment and hiring practices is a good solution, notes Michelle Poage, president of Design Staffing, LLC, a boutique recruiting and placement firm. It will not only help you focus energy and efforts in the most fruitful direction, but it will also improve chances of finding and making the right hire.

According to Poage, the first step in the recruitment process is clearly defining the role. This requires developing a detailed job description covering the essential functions and day-to-day tasks and how these fit into the company’s overall objectives. Also, think about what you may offer candidates that would increase your company’s appeal beyond the salary. “Top talent is often looking for more than adequate compensation and benefits. So be sure to highlight any perks your company may offer. These might include the option of telecommuting, flexible work schedules, and wellness and workplace initiatives.”

Think creatively in addition to the usual methods when searching for likely candidates. Poage recommends networking opportunities, such as tradeshows, conferences, even community activities. And don’t overlook social media. “Also, be mindful of your company’s presence on the Web. Do you have a website? If so, is it interactive and user-friendly? Most importantly, is it updated frequently to reflect new information about the company and its open positions?”

If your recruitment efforts aren’t turning up any decent prospects consider engaging consultants to help. You can also ask existing employees for referrals, offering a bonus if their suggestion turns into a hire.

Once you’ve found suitable candidates, how do you ensure you’ll make the best choice?

  • Discuss compensation and benefits first. Get to this early in the process and speak frankly. You want to learn as quickly as possible if there’s a match between what you can offer and the candidate’s needs and expectations.
  • Keep company culture and values in mind. Don’t just interview for skillset. Make sure the candidate has the right attitude to fit in—job skills can be taught or expanded upon, but adjusting someone’s attitude is an entirely different ballgame.
  • Don’t rush. Even if you’re anxious to fill the position, take time to thoroughly interview the candidate. Check references. Solicit input from others in the company. Cover all bases before extending an offer (and make the final offer contingent upon passing other requirements, such as drug testing or more thorough background checks using CRB Direct).
  • Put it in writing. Provide a clear, detailed offer letter that describes the offer and conditions of employment in full. This should be signed by the applicant and returned to the company.

And don’t stop at the hiring process—be sure to make the new arrival feel welcome. “Introduce them to other employees, take them on a tour of the office, ensure they have the proper supplies and equipment to do their job, and impress upon them that they should feel comfortable asking questions and seeking guidance. Remember, you never get a second chance at making a good first impression.”

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