Finding the right person for the right job

AS THE OLD familiar saying goes “good help is hard to find”, and it seems more and more small and medium-sized business owners are battling with this issue on a regular basis. According to a recent survey conducted by information provider Sensis, the number one problem being experienced by SMEs is difficulty in finding and holding onto employees.

It’s not all that surprising really. With the jobless rate at the lowest level in over 30 years (4.2 per cent — the lowest since November 1974) and business confidence among the nation’s SMEs at a 15-month high, business owners are fishing for the best talent in an already depleted talent pool. Moreover, if you believe the market forecasters, the situation is likely to get a lot worse before it gets any better.

While there’s no quick fix for this dilemma, there are some simple steps business owners can implement in order to find good people and more importantly, keep them! In my experience, businesses which have had the most success have been those that outline their needs from the beginning — even before the interview process begins, those that use innovative tactics to attract the attention of potential candidates and then deliver what they promise in the interview process.

Here are some steps to get you started on the right track.

  1. Step one: The most important step in the recruitment process is to get the employment brief correct so you have a clear understanding of what you’re looking for in a candidate. Sit down and write out a list of the criteria that are important to you and your business and use this as the basis for an advertisement.
  2. Step two: The next step is to work out where you’re going to run the advertisement. Some of the areas you may think of looking at are newspapers, the internet or even trade magazines. By advertising specialist positions in niche media you’re more likely to get the right candidates responding. It may even be worth considering hiring staff from alternate talent pools, such as mature-aged workers or return-to-work mothers.
  3. Step three: You will then need to shortlist candidates to interview. When you’re in the interview process, make sure you ask the candidate the right questions that will give you revealing responses. Don’t fall into the trap of telling the candidate all about the job and organisation so all you hear back is exactly what you’ve just told them!
  4. Step four: It’s also really important to reference check all potential employees. This is one of the most critical things you can do to ensure that what you see is what you’ll get!

Once you’ve brought a new staff member on board, it’s important to keep them there! Delivering on what’s promised during the job interview and creating the right cultural environment is vital for keeping good workers in this skills short market and in the long run, will make you an employer of choice.

Of course, there are the more well known incentives such as providing flexible hours, on-site child care and extra training. Also consider more granular issues which will help keep your staff engaged and happy at the end of the day. This can include recognising a job well done, providing interesting and challenging work, giving some autonomy if appropriate, listening to ideas and encouraging good relationships among staff. After all, during our working life, we probably spend more time interacting with work mates than we do with our own family… so why not make your business a great place to work!

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