How to Hire for your Small Business

Good help shouldn't be hard to find – if you know how and where to look. It's tedious. It's stressful. But there's no doubt it's exciting. For many small businesses, the hiring stage can make or break their success. Start the process out on the right foot and follow these best practices for expanding your team.

Preparing to Hire

Before you go searching, write a thorough job description. Keeping a running list of tasks over the course of a few weeks is helpful. Define what the role is, what the expectations are and what skills the candidate will need to meet those expectations. Making these things crystal clear from the beginning can eliminate potential misunderstandings and frustrations in the future.

Post the job description on your website, or if you don't have the time or money for one yet, you can set up a free blog and post it there. This way, you at least have a link that you can email to those who are interested, as well as publish to your social channels. If you've never set up a blog before, you can see some information on getting started in the middle of this article. If you're looking to cast a broader net, local online job boards are a good place to advertise the position. Your state's Department of Labor can help point you in the right direction if you're unsure what these sites are.

Next, compile a list of all the tangible reasons why someone would want to work at your small business. Can you provide flexible scheduling or the ability to occasionally work from home? Working for a small business has many great advantages that you can highlight during your interviews. For example, those at the top tend to have closer relationships with their employees, which can create an easier path to a larger role within the business. Additionally, small businesses are traditionally less bureaucratic than larger companies. This can lead to a greater breadth of job duties and allow employees to gain experience in a variety of things.

Searching for Candidates

With a comprehensive job description and a complete list of the perks you're able to offer, you're now ready to begin your search. Think about your ideal candidate. Where would they spend their time on- and offline? Could they be involved in any industry associations or attend industry conferences in the area? Are there local workshops or clubs where they might hone or discuss their skills? Setting aside some time to recruit and network at these events (even if you're not hiring) could prove beneficial for future hires as well. Make sure to carry some copies of the job description (with a shortened URL of where to find it online) as well as your business card to hand out to people as you network.

Offer a referral bonus to your current employees as an incentive to help you in your search. By giving potential candidates an honest, unbiased perspective of what it's like to work there, your current employees may be in a better position to attract candidates than you are. Don't forget to utilize your own network of industry colleagues – post a short update on LinkedIn about the available position and link to the job description.

Search the job listings of some of your most successful competitors in local newspapers and online job boards. What skills are they looking for? What are they offering their candidates? What verbiage are they using to lure in their prospects? If it's working for them, these may be good avenues for your advertising dollars. If you aren't sure where to find listings, get in touch with another small business owner in your area or your local chamber of commerce, and they can help point you in the right direction.

As you begin to sort through your pool of applicants, use Google and social media to help you narrow down your search. Search their name and city to scan for potential red flags. If you want to dig deeper, your local police department can provide advice for 3rd party screening companies as well.

Conducting the Interview

Experience is important, but you also want to find someone who complements the culture of your business, who has values similar to your own and who's passionate and knowledgeable about the work you're doing.

Get a glimpse of their character by asking the right questions. If this is a job you've done before, think back to what you found difficult and ask them how they'd handle it. Additionally, what can they tell you about your business? What was missing from their last job, and why do they think they'll find it at your business? What have they done to improve themselves in the last 2 years? Are you convinced they're passionate about this line of work?

It's important to understand that you will not find a perfect replica of you. Everyone has unique perspectives; keep that in mind and use it to your advantage. Being smart about where you look for candidates and how/where you advertise the position will determine the overall quality of your applicants. The fish are out there; you just need to find the right hook to bring them in.

For more information on the steps you'll need to take to be in compliance with employment and labor laws, visit the U.S. Small Business Administration's website.