A guide to recruitment for small business

Team of people smiling over a desk with a laptop on it.

Recruitment for startup jobs is often a term that sends small and medium business owners shuddering back to their desks. Is it a necessary evil? Are all recruiter’s sales monsters? ‘Why can’t we do it ourselves?’ some say.

Although a scary concept for some, recruitment is an essential aspect of any organisation and getting it right is important for the future of the business. This article sets out to give SME’s a little ammo on what to look out for when choosing a recruitment partner, as well as explaining why you should consider using them at all.

Firstly, let’s address the big elephant in the room – not many people like recruiters. It is certainly an industry fraught with poor performers and ignorant sales people who are out for nothing other than money, and there are plenty of horror stories out there to support that notion. But that is not how all recruitment businesses perform. Indeed, there are many that surpass all expectations.

And there is your first tip, look out for the money hungry sales people that are still out there. Our advice is not to work with anyone who phones you up and simply asks, ‘have you got any vacancies we can fill?’ – chances are they won’t or don’t want to spend time getting to know your business and your requirements.

Now for the smaller elephant – why can’t you just recruit people yourselves?

In all honesty, you can. You could start with an advert on your company website and phone up people that have submitted CVs in the past. You could tell your staff to refer people and you could ring around people you know. You could even go as far as spending money on job boards, magazines and papers to advertise your job. In our experience though, this only works a small number of times. More often than not, these efforts peter out due to one of two things – there isn’t enough time to focus on it properly or the efforts just don’t yield the return that is required. That’s why most people choose to use a recruitment company.

A good recruitment consultancy will solve those issues for you. They have the time and resources to extend your company’s reach far beyond that of your own efforts. Using a reliable consultancy means that your roles will touch far more people and give you a far greater chance of finding the right person for your business.

Here’s a list of things your recruiter should do for you:

1) Talk to you

They should be getting to know you, your business and your role. If they don’t do this, how can they find the person who is best suited to what you want? A new hire is as much about personality and company fit as it is about skills matching.

2) Give you confidence that they know your market

If the person doing your recruitment doesn’t know a thing about what you or your industry does, it’s not going to fill you with a lot of confidence!

3) Act in partnership

Your recruitment partner should be an extension of your business. They should work in partnership with you and want the best for your business and the people you employ.

4) Network

Any good recruitment company has a large network of active and passive candidates that they talk to regularly. This is what generates referrals and new connections and helps them to find the best people for your position.

5) Provide a small number of great matches to your roles

Don’t expect 20 or 30 CVs. The job of the recruiter is to talk to lots and lots of people about your role. They will spend a lot of time researching people, checking their skills, seeing if they match the company’s personality and more. Let them do the donkey work. You should receive a small number of CVs for people who are suitable for interview and, ideally, employ one of them (or more!).

6) Offer open and honest advice

Beware the ‘yes’ man. Your recruiter should offer you advice and honest opinion where necessary. For example, a good recruiter should tell you if you are offering the wrong salary for your position. It’s an imperative part of the process for recruiters to guide the employer, not just the candidate. To this end, be as open to this advice as possible.

7) Stay in touch after the hire

Most people think the only reason a recruiter will stay in touch after the hire is so that they can develop more business from you. Whilst there is some obvious truth in this, it is important for the recruiter to stay in touch for another reason. When someone starts a new role they will be emotionally charged – they have lots of stressful new situations to deal with. A good recruiter should stay in touch with both parties to address any issues that arise and deal with them so that the client and candidate get the most from their new partnership.

Now that you are armed with this information you know what you should look out for and you know why you should consider using a recruiter. If the companies you use don’t extol these virtues, either avoid working with them or quiz them on it. If you don’t like the answers, go elsewhere. Amongst the horror stories and dodgy sales people are a wealth of great recruitment people – you just have to find them.

So, next time you have a vacancy to fill, will you consider an agency?