Fishing An Empty Pool

Features - Labor

Four recruiting tips for small business owners frustrated by a lack of qualified candidates in their market.

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May 2, 2018
Scott Wintrip

As an owner of a snow and ice management company, you're beyond busy, and that isn't likely to change. For example, one moment, you're serving as a salesperson, meeting with new clients and trying to close that new piece of business for the next season. The next, you're playing customer service rep and solving a client’s service problems. Or, you’re wrapped up in executive tasks, like signing loan documents to purchase equipment. Add to these roles more selling, more networking, and more managing. Suddenly, your best employee gives notice. As busy as you are, how will you find time to recruit, interview, hire, and train that individual’s replacement?

Small business owners are competing with one another for quality employees. The Internet leveled the playing field, and now your company and all others, big and small, are able to reach top talent. This is straining a tapped-out talent pool and has left many small business owners searching far and wide for talented and resourceful job candidates.

Owners must find great talent quickly to perform at full capacity. When operating with a small crew, you must find smart, resourceful talent capable of keeping up with the fast-paced dynamics that come along with a small company. Luckily, fitting hiring into your already busy day isn't that complicated. It requires a few adjustments. Here are four steps to make hiring for your business and filling vacant positions more efficient than ever.

Leverage the most productive streams of talent

Asking for referrals and networking with other business people has long been a highly effective way to locate talent. In fact, business owners who carve out time each week for networking and referral generation discover a secret: The labor pool isn't as tapped out as they originally thought. They simply weren't taking a disciplined approach to recruiting.

Actively share the talent you discover with other business owners

You're not going to be able to hire every great candidate you meet. Sometimes talented candidates just aren't the right fit for your company, and other times, all of your positions are filled. When this happens, be sure to share candidates with other business owners to help them solve their own hiring challenges; they will also be happy to reciprocate. Business owners who share talent in this manner with at least eight or more businesses report greater success in hiring faster and making better hires.

Conduct hands-on interviews

The standard approach to hiring is to conduct interviews where candidates talk about work. Not only is this a huge drain on time, it's also an inaccurate way to assess whether a candidate fits your job. That's why many business owners have turned to doing hands-on interviews. 4In a hands-on interview, you experience the candidate doing sample work. If it's for a sales role, the candidate joins you on a sales call. If you're hiring for a customer service role, he can help solve a customer's problem. By watching the candidate in action, you save time while also making a more accurate assessment of whether someone is a good fit.

Line up key people before you need them

Some roles are more vital than others, and when these roles are left unfilled, they can harm your business. Plus, the extra work usually falls on your already overflowing plate. Instead of waiting until an employee in an essential job quits or gives notice to start recruiting, do yourself a favor and recruit ahead of time. Dedicating 30 minutes to recruiting each week pays off by creating a pipeline of potential talent.

If you've maintained viable contacts through networking and referral generation, you'll be able to locate and hire exceptional talent faster than you might expect, even in an over tapped labor pool.

Scott Wintrip is the founder of Wintrip Consulting Group, a hiring and staffing consulting firm.