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How to hire the right staff print Print

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Making sure you get the right person for the job isn’t easy, but it is essential. Check out these quick tips to help increase your chances of success.

So you want to hire a new member of staff? First things first, have you considered the following important factors:

  • Timing

Is now definitely the right time to hire? Too early and you might expose your business to unnecessary costs, too late and you might reach capacity and risk not being able to deliver to customers.

  • Overheads

Are you hiring someone to share the load? Good idea, but can you also make sure they add value to your businesses with new skills or increased capacity so they’re not just adding overhead.

  • Job structure

Don’t assume fulltime permanent is the best option. Check out your options with contractors, casuals and part timers to make sure you get the most cost-effective and appropriate option for your business.

Job descriptions

A job description is the human resources version of a business plan. Writing one doesn’t just mean both sides of the conference table – you and the candidates – will be on the same page, it also helps you crystallise your thoughts and nail down the details of who and what you want.

You should write a job description for the vacant position as one of your first steps, so you can then keep returning to it through the hiring process as a central guiding document.

As you take applications and meet candidates you’ll be opened up to a range of possibilities you may never have considered before. But having a written job description on hand will always help you to remain focused on your business’s direct needs.

When writing a job description:

  • Include all the tasks and responsibilities – from the main ones to the menial – and be honest. This is for your good as well as the candidates’.
  • Make sure you include hours, conditions and salary.

If you struggle to think of things to include, download the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Labour Job Description Checklist to help you.

The bottom line is; without a job description you may never have a clear picture of who you need to hire, and that isn’t fair on your business or the person you eventually employ.

Research the job market

As a prospective employer your business is competing with others for the best talent in the job market, so it makes sense to ensure your business is as attractive as possible to the right candidates.

Many business owners assume this is a case of just offering competitive pay, but it may not be as simple as that.

The modern workplace has changed and traditional career structures have diminished thanks to technological innovations and changing attitudes. You may find workplace flexibility is as valued as top pay in your candidate target market.

This makes researching and talking to the kind of people you want to hire as important as researching and talking to the target markets you aim your products and services at.

Also take the opportunity to consult recruitment experts with a good track history working with your sector to tap their knowledge and experience.

Once you have a solid picture of prospective candidates’ wants and needs, you can then make adjustments in your business to make it a more attractive and competitive employer.

Spread the word

Different types of job hunters look in different places for job opportunities, with media consumption habits becoming more community-specific as the influence of social media continues to grow.

When you research your candidate target market, find out what media they consume. You may find a traditional advertising platform like TradeMe Jobs is the biggest common denominator. However, it might just be that LinkedIn or a specialist trade publication is a more appropriate place to advertise.

Consider this; the latest trend is for resumes to be Twitter-friendly – and less than 140 characters long!

Also consider your own networks. Your business mentor, or members of your Chamber of Commerce or business association, may be able to recommend candidates, while it’s also worth posting about vacant positions on your business’s website and social media pages.

Other options include:

  • Head hunters (for top-tier candidates who may not be actively looking for a new job).
  • The media (for publicising unique or creative positions that are difficult to fill).
  • Your existing staff (they’ll be networking as much as you – even if it’s just on Facebook – so they may know people they can recommend).

Application forms

Weigh up the value of writing a job application form which could streamline the selection process for you.

It could outline all the must-haves you’re looking for, include standard questions you might otherwise ask in the interview and be used to establish legalities – like an applicant’s residency status.

You could also use the form to gain signed permission from applicants to contact referees and, if applicable, carry out a security check with police.

All these things will help you avoid wasting interview time on candidates who don’t fit the bill.

Interview, test and background check

Interviews can be either casual or  formal, but they should all have in common a consistent methodology and baseline for assessing candidates.

You can conduct an interview in a variety of ways – as a one-on-one chat or as part of a workshop, for example – but you need to make sure the method chosen and the rules used don’t change for any of the candidates.

Even if a late surprise candidate is only available at short notice, make sure you don’t unwittingly position them for the job by making the interview more casual than the others you’ve conducted.

If you’ve written a job description, use it as your baseline and make sure you keep it top-of-mind when you develop your interview questions and the responses you’re looking for.

Testing candidates is not just for jobs involving specialist skills, so consider how you can include a realistic but controlled test so you can maximise the value of the interview process and check the veracity of candidates’ claims in their CVs.

When it comes to background and reference checks it pays to be discerning:

  • Phone referees directly – ask them point blank if they’d hire the candidate again and why. Don’t just rely on an email reference.
  • Search online. A Google search followed by social media searches may give you insight into the candidate’s personality.
  • If you’re hiring for a senior position and employing the wrong candidate would pose significant risk to your business, consider professional vetting or forensic CV analysis services.

Hiring is often done on an ad hoc basis, but if you project-manage the process as you would with any other important task in your business, you’ll increase the chances of hiring the right person for the job.

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