Businesses have for many years recognised the importance of planning in the deployment of financial capital, selecting projects in accordance with the projected return on investment. Today more than ever, it is recognised that a company’s ability to effectively hire, retain, deploy and engage talent is really the only true competitive advantage that an organisation possesses.
This revised thinking has elevated HR in many corporations to the same importance as finance and is an acknowledgement that to be successful organisations must manage human capital with the same rigour that is applied to financial capital. Where once the HR department was seen as administrative support, providing payroll and backroom functions and the like, today in many corporations HR Business Partners or Chief Human Resource Officers sit alongside and work closely with the CEO and CFO, developing strategies to attract, retain, develop and deploy talent.
What are the Implications of these Trends for SME’s?
The success of an SME is just as dependent (if not more so), on attracting and retaining talent as corporate business and yet resources to do so are often severely limited with many not even having an HR Manager let alone the resources to devise a Talent Management Strategy. Hiring a key position in a small business arguably has the potential to have far greater implications on the success or failure of the business than in a larger company where there are more employees, with more skills and greater support mechanisms.
Here are four tips to assist businesses to make the best possible hiring decisions:-
- Update the job description. The requirements of the job may have changed since the job description was devised. This also acts as a communication tool to prospective candidates, enabling them to understand the scope and responsibilities of the role and the skills and experience required to perform it.
- Allocate sufficient time to the hiring process. Make sure you have the necessary time to undertake the hiring process. Hiring involves many steps. Reviewing the job description, writing an advertisement, evaluating where to advertise and posting to relevant sites, handling enquiries, reviewing and screening applications, selecting a short list, scheduling interviews, interviewing and post-interview evaluation, reference checks, negotiation of offers and rejection of unsuccessful candidates. A common mistake is to underestimate the time taken in the search and selection process. It is advisable to budget 40 to 50 hours of time to recruit a middle management position. More senior roles can take significantly longer, particularly if you encounter a shortage of candidates. Not allocating sufficient time to undertake all the steps in the hiring process is one of the most common mistakes resulting in a poor hiring decision.
- Develop a Hiring Strategy. Most managers acknowledge the importance of attracting the best qualified candidates, the superior performers. No manager, when asked aspires to employing an average performer, particularly for a key position, and yet a surprising number of hiring managers practice a “post and pray” strategy whereby they post a job on one or several jobs boards and hope that amongst those responding there will be superior candidates. As a general rule it is accepted that 20% of prospective candidates actively seek out new opportunities (that is, view and respond to advertisements). About 25% of qualified candidates are not actively seeking new opportunities and are not interested in a career move. The remainder of qualified candidates (55% are passive candidates. That is, they are not active in seeking out new opportunities (and therefore do not read or respond to advertisements) but if approached will consider career alternative opportunities. Those who rely on job boards for candidates are confining themselves to a little over 25% of available candidates. This is hardly satisfactory if their intention really is to hire the best candidate.
- Consider Outsourcing the Search and Selection Process. A reputable recruiter specialising in the sector you are seeking to hire can add value in three ways:-
- Increase your access to passive candidates. Compared to someone who only hires occasionally, a recruiter can be expected to have access to a much larger candidate pool due to their database of candidates and industry networks and the fact that they are constantly in the market, hence continually communicating with prospective candidates. In addition, candidates are often more likely to engage with recruiters to discuss current and future opportunities than applying for a role directly to a company that is unfamiliar to them.
- Recruiters can save you precious time. Busy executives can ill-afford to be involved in every aspect of the recruiting process. A recruiter has the ability to limit your time involvement in a hire to the most important part of the recruiting process – interviewing short listed candidates and choosing the preferred candidate.
- The power of social media. In the last few years, social media has risen to prominence in identifying and attracting skills. The best recruiters engage with prospective candidates on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook and the like, and use powerful search tools to identify and actively approach appropriately skilled people for the roles they are recruiting for.
Written by Brett Price, Principal & Sales Director of Agricultural Appointments