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Four tips to help you hire the right people

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Recruiting new members of staff should be an exciting stage for a small business; it could mean the company is growing and is creating a new position, or seeking to bring in a new set of skills to complement existing talent.

Yet this is often something small business owners struggle with, whether that's due a perceived lack of quality candidates or simply because they're not used to hiring people and don't know what to look for.

The problem is that getting it wrong can be an expensive mistake. The wrong recruit could impact negatively on productivity, customer service and morale, and if things don't work out you could be looking at starting all over again.

The following tips should help identify how to find potential candidates and what to look out for when recruiting:

Consider all options

Many small firms do themselves no favours by having preconceived ideas around the background of employees. As well as looking for those with experience, also consider those with potential, whether that's school-leavers, older workers, those with disabilities, ex-forces personnel or career-changers.

Offer flexible working

How the job is structured can have a big impact on how attractive it is to certain candidates. Does it have to be full-time or done in office hours? Or could it be done part-time, perhaps from home? Offering hours which fit around school hours or term time could make it more attractive to working parents, particularly mums who may otherwise feel they are unable to work at all. Small firms have a big advantage over their larger rivals here as they can be more flexible, so use this to your advantage.


Cast the net far and wide

Make sure you advertise the position in the right places, depending on the type of job in question. Local newspapers or shop windows can help find local talent, while advertising on industry websites can help with more specific roles. Local job centres or job clubs may also be able to help. And don't forget word of mouth; make sure everyone who already works for you knows you're looking - they may even be able to recommend a friend or family member who is seeking work.

Do your homework

Once you have a shortlist of candidates, make sure you check them out thoroughly. Look for any gaps in their work history and ask them about this at interview, and be wary of anyone who has changed jobs regularly. Seek a number of opinions from colleagues at interview, particularly from those who will be working closely with any individual, as this can help identify any personality clashes. Finally, make sure you take up any referees from previous employers or schools/colleges, and remember to look them up on social media too ahead of making any offer!

Nick Martindale is a business journalist and editor of FSB's First Voice magazine.

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