How to Hire New Employees as you Get Back to Business
Although nearly half of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are hiring less now than they were in mid-April, 20% of SMBs overall say they plan on hiring new staff as they begin to reopen their businesses.*
Business pivots due to the COVID-19 pandemic may mean you need to make staffing changes, too — for example, your business may now need someone with online commerce experience, or more staff to procure goods due to supply constraints. Whatever the reason—now, perhaps more than ever—making the right hire plays a crucial next step in moving your small business forward.
Here are important steps for businesses to consider when hiring new employees.
Conduct a Job Analysis
You can't make a good hiring decision if you're unclear about the position itself. A job analysis can help identify the skills, knowledge, education, abilities and experience a prospective candidate should have to perform a specific job. Your challenge is to determine the level of work experience needed, as well as the appropriate levels of education, training and/or need for certification. One tip: When possible, assess the knowledge, skills and personal characteristics of individuals who have successfully performed this job in the past and consider those criteria in the job analysis.
Craft Meaningful Job Descriptions
Attracting qualified candidates often hinges on a carefully crafted job description. To identify the details that will shape your job description, spend time answering questions such as:
- What specific duties and essential functions will the role entail?
- What skillset, education, or experience will the person need to succeed in the role and add value to your business?
- Where will the person work, and during what hours? (Will they be remote?)
- What tools, software, or technology resources will the employee be provided to do the job?
- Is travel required?
- Is there the opportunity to advance?
- What will the total compensation package be?
Also pay close attention to:
- Job title. Be sure the job title is consistent with similar positions in the marketplace. The job title should not reference or imply discrimination based on gender or age.
- Key responsibilities, skills, and qualifications. A concise, but appropriately detailed listing of essential and secondary functions gives candidates a better idea of what the position entails.
- Benefits and salary. Assess whether leaving out information about salary and benefits (such as healthcare and retirement plan options) makes sense. Job seekers are often on the lookout for this information in a job posting.
- Formatting. Stay away from long, rambling sentences, and make the wording easy to skim and comprehend. Use bullet points and present-tense verbs.
In general, the more granular your job description, the better you can maintain parameters around the types of skills or experiences you'll consider as a minimum requirement, so you can quickly weed out employees who lack the necessary skills. The more detailed you are in your description, the more likely it may be that you will attract applicants who are qualified, eager, and excited to help your small business succeed.
Find Qualified Candidates
You know precisely what the job entails, but where do you find qualified candidates to fill the position? The best hiring solutions include a comprehensive strategy to attract the right job-seekers from a variety of sources, including but not limited to:
- Employee referrals. Who do your current employees know that might fit the bill?
- Online job postings. Make use of the most popular online employment sites to advertise the position.
- Word of mouth. Turn to your professional network, asking friends and colleagues to suggest qualified candidates.
- Advertising on your company website. Consider drafting a compelling statement on your "Join Our Team" page, "selling" prospective employees on your company's vision, mission and values. Let job-seekers know what sets your business apart from others, and why it's such an attractive place to work. And make it as easy as possible for interested candidates to submit their application.
Invest in Inbound Recruiting
Consider inbound recruiting—an online strategy that can position businesses to attract the most qualified candidates. Tactics include:
- Cultivating a social media presence. This includes posting fresh, relevant content on a regular basis in order to capture job seekers' attention. This can be a great way to build relationships with people you ultimately want to hire.
- Optimizing your website. Google now ranks websites based in part on their optimization for mobile viewing, one of many reasons to ensure that your site loads quickly and easily for on-the-go job candidates.
- Making your careers page an exciting place to visit. Getting a job seeker to visit your careers page is just the first step. Once there, it's imperative that the prospective candidate finds an up-to-date compilation of job listings and useful information on how to apply. You may also want to consider including a direct link to a live HR staff member to empower applicants to take action and stay connected.
Use an Applicant Tracking System
If you've successfully leveraged the hiring solutions mentioned above, you should receive a significant number of job applications. How can you keep track of them and, more importantly, identify the most promising candidates?
Technology has transformed the recruiting process. Applicant tracking systems comprised of computer algorithms can now parse large amounts of job applicant data at a far greater speed than humans can to detect patterns of behavior, candidate qualifications, and even keywords that can add visibility to job postings. They can also help gather insights into metrics around open positions, number of days it took to fill the position, and the number of applications received, interviews conducted, and jobs offered, allowing your company to streamline and optimize each step of the hiring process.
By having a paperless recruiting and applicant tracking system, your business can save time and potentially reduces the costs involved in your hiring process by making it easier for HR managers and others involved in the hiring process to analyze the information they receive from job-seekers and more efficiently identify those candidates worth pursuing.
Have an Interview Strategy
Once you’ve identified candidates for the position, having a well-planned interview process can help reveal a great deal about them. Too often, small business owners base the initial hiring decision on a single interview. While you may hope to find your perfect candidate and get them working quickly, rushing this process can result in a poor match for your company, a candidate who doesn't fully understand the demands of the job, or lost time and wages in having to replace an under-qualified worker. When developing your interview process, consider the following steps:
- An initial submission. This could be a simple cover letter or a list of answers to several specified questions. This requirement will help weed out candidates who are looking to submit the same resume to as many open positions as possible, and will help identify those that are willing to work a bit for the right job.
- A comprehensive interview. This interview should include a mixture of questions designed to assess the candidate's skills, as well as gauge a potential fit within the company's culture.
- A follow-up task. For the most qualified candidates, consider asking them to complete a follow-up task or for a work sample that is consistent with the requirements of the job before you make your final hiring decisions. You can get creative with this step! This task could be a project or written assessment related to the job tasks, a meet-and-greet with your current customers, or a job-shadowing experience. An interactive task may give you a well-rounded picture of each candidate's abilities or provide additional insight on which to base your selection.
Conduct Background and Reference Checks
If you're down to one or two top candidates who seem perfectly suited for an open position, take the time to conduct a thorough background check before making an offer. This may include verifying certain information the candidate has stated on their resume, such as educational credentials and prior work experience. It’s also recommended that you contact any references the candidate has provided.
The cost of unsuccessful hires can be staggering, both in terms of money lost and a demoralizing effect on the workplace. Avoid typical hiring mistakes — such as overlooking the potential of internal candidates or skipping background checks — by working closely with your HR resource.
As you add new people to your team, consider assigning someone in your company to keep current on regulations, send team communications, and update handbooks and policy documents. It’s particularly important to review your policies with your HR team or legal counsel — including sick leave and paid time off — prior to bringing back or hiring new employees to be sure they’re in compliance with federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
If you’ve applied for or received a loan under the Paychex Protection Program (PPP), check with your legal counsel or HR professional to evaluate how any new hires or staffing changes that you make may impact your loan forgiveness.
When in Doubt, Overcommunicate
Don’t forget that communication is key—especially now.
Forty percent of SMBs say they’ll be relying on flexible work schedules and remote work arrangements as they get back to business. With schedules in flux and new employment-related policies being put in place, clearly communicating these changes to new (and rehired) employees will be crucial to your return-to-work strategy. Additionally, make sure you are communicating any new workplace safety protocols—such as cleaning practices or social distancing measures—to help ease any potential employee concerns about coming into work, if necessary.
It may also be necessary to explain new hires to current staff during this time. Why are you hiring for new positions, for example, when other previously held positions remain unfilled? Proactively telling your staff about emerging business needs and roles can help make them more supportive of your hiring decisions.
For more information on reopening your business—including best practices, answers to common return-to-work questions, and solutions for challenges surrounding hiring and bringing back employees—visit our new resource page, Return to Work: Getting Back to Business.
*Paychex conducted four separate online surveys of 300 principals of U.S.-based businesses with 2 to 500 employees. Wave 1 was fielded April 17-20; Wave 2, April 24-27; Wave 3, May 1-4, Wave 4 May 15-17. Each survey has a +/-5.66% margin of error.