If you don’t recruit the right people, it’s costly, time consuming and can hold your business back. But attracting the right talent isn’t easy. People Director Lesley Strachan gives her top 10 tips on how to get it right.
The smaller your business, the bigger the impact a new recruit has. A good one can help your business to grow and develop, but a bad one can hinder your business plans because it doesn’t just affect the role, it impacts on the rest of your team as well. ‘People quickly know whether something isn’t working,’ says Lesley. ‘It creates a lot of distraction.’
So what should you do to ensure you get the best candidate that will help take your business to the next level?
1. Define exactly what you want
‘The thing that people often hate doing is sitting down and committing to paper the scale and scope of the job,’ says Lesley. ‘What makes a good experience and personality match to meet your future challenges? You might assume that a Director of Operations is the same everywhere, but there are a million versions of that job and not all of them will be a good fit for your organisation.’
2. Think about what skills you need
It’s tempting to get other people in who are similar to you, but it’s not always the best option. ‘You might want to think about skills that complement your own,’ Lesley says. ‘If you’re driven by your vision but aren’t that interested in logistics, it might be worth looking for someone who gets their satisfaction from getting into the detail.’
3. Consider how the role might change
Another important question to ask, particularly if you’re planning to grow the business, is whether the role is likely to change. ‘Are you looking for somebody who’s ambitious and on their way up, or do you need someone more seasoned?’ says Lesley. ‘These considerations will help you look for the right candidate and set the right salary level.’
4. Partner with a good recruiter
Once you’ve scoped out the role, Lesley recommends developing a partnership with a good recruitment consultant. ‘Invite them in so they see what it’s like working for you and give them time to put their best candidates in front of you,’ she advises. ‘Putting a job on with four agents doesn’t work – they end up chasing the same candidates. If a recruiter knows they’re a sole agent, you’ll get a better service.’
5. Use social media – but only if you have a good network
Social media sites like LinkedIn are great for networking, but Lesley warns it’s not for everyone. ‘If you’re well-connected on LinkedIn you might only have to put something on your profile and you’ll get interesting candidates,’ she says. ‘But it’s a long haul if you’re not naturally that way inclined.’
6. Don’t rush
Lesley insists that taking time over recruitment, particularly in a senior role, won’t put off serious candidates. ‘If a candidate can’t wait that long, they’re probably not interested in finding the right job, they’re only interested in finding a job,’ she says.
7. Invest time prior to interview
Once you’ve got candidates to consider, Lesley recommends setting aside time to read through the CVs yourself. A short initial telephone interview can be a helpful way to acquaint yourself with the candidate without committing to a full-blown interview. ‘A half hour conversation can show you things that a CV can’t,’ she says.
8. Look for matching values as well as skills
Lesley also recommends using the interview to get an idea of what makes this person tick. ‘At the end of the interview you have to know if they have the same values that you have in your organisation,’ she says. ‘Ask them to give examples of when they have dealt with certain situations – the language they use will show you what they deem to be important when they describe the scenario and the actions they took.’
9. Be honest about the role and its prospects
It’s important to be up front about what the role will entail. ‘Good recruitment is about making a match – for them and for you,’ says Lesley. ‘If you over-sell the job you’re just going to get the wrong candidate.’
10. Keep an open mind
To keep your pool of candidates as wide as possible, Lesley advises considering non-graduates as well as graduates. ‘Of course, there are jobs where being a graduate is necessary,’ she says. ‘But you if you only look at graduates you might be missing out on some brilliantly entrepreneurial, can-do people.’
She also suggests showing some flexibility if the location of your business is impeding the type of people you want to attract. ‘You could consider flexible or remote working, if the job allows.’
All of this time and consideration will be worth it if you find a really great candidate. ‘You’ve got to commit yourself to this person and if it goes wrong there’s a very long process to get yourself out of it,’ Lesley says. ‘Think about the lost productivity. It takes so much more time to rectify that, than to properly focus on finding the right person in the first place.’
Lesley Strachan, People Director