Nine dos and don’ts of hiring for your small business

Need to recruit someone to help you grow your small business? Here are nine dos and don’ts to help you hire the right person.

If you want your small business to succeed, you can’t be manning the sails, sweeping the oars, and piloting the ship all on your own.

Braving the storms and shoals of a competitive business climate requires a functional crew. One weak link could easily sink the ship, so it’s vital that you enlist the right people. But how? Stick to these do’s and don’ts for small businesses and you’ll be set. 

1) Don’t be hasty

What do you think would happen if you hired the first warm body that walked in your doors? Likely, you’d be kicking yourself and looking for a replacement within weeks. 

Slow and steady wins the race. Finding the right person takes time and patience. Desperate and hasty decisions lead to unpleasant consequences. 

2) Do carefully consider what you need

Small businesses can’t afford to make a hiring mistake. Their needs are too great and their coffers too small. To avoid this, brainstorm your areas of need and create a position around these things. By fleshing out and fully understanding the role, you can find the right person. 

You’ll want to be able to give:

  • A comprehensive description of the role
  • The duties of the job
  • The salary you can afford to pay

Create an accurate picture of the job and you’ll be able to entice the right type of applicants. So, focus on job-related specifics and not subjective qualities. 

3) Don’t interview without knowing who you’re looking for 

Having an open mind is a good thing. Having zero expectations for the candidate isn’t. Want to make your life easier? Go in with a solid picture of what the ideal candidate would look like. This can be split into two categories:

A) Must-haves

What are the basic qualities required for the job? These can be:

  • Education
  • Past work experience
  • Skills

B) Nice-to-haves

What would make a candidate stand out from the rest of the field? Think about:

  • Post-graduate education 
  • Previous experience in a similar role
  • Cultural fit
  • Personality
  • Character 

4) Do list the job in several places

To catch a lot of fish you must cast a wide net. You want as large and open a field of candidates as possible. Post the position to several different sites. This maximizes your chances of finding the right person. Consider using:

Remember, your goal is to entice job applicants. Be sure to give an accurate but exciting overview of what the position entails and the type of candidate you’re looking for. 

5) Don’t over-interview 

You don’t have the time to interview a hundred candidates. While it may be tempting to bring in a bunch of people, all the names, faces, and personalities tend to blur after a while. Stick to 8-10 final candidates. 

Have one or two levels of initial screening before you ever interview a candidate in-person. This speeds up the process, especially if you’re inundated with applications. Pre-screening steps include:

Free yourself up by immediately throwing some of the candidates into the “no” pile. 

6) Do be willing to say no

As you interview, you’ll likely find several great people and personalities. But they still might not be the right fit. You can’t expect perfection, but if you haven’t found a suitable candidate, then be willing to say no to them all and reopen the position for more applications. 

7) Don’t take the candidate at their word

So, you think you’ve found Mister or Miss Right? Confirm that by performing an identity background check on them. You can be held liable if you hire someone with a criminal background who then causes harm to an employee or a civilian on your watch. It’s essential that you know who you’re hiring. 

8) Do file all proper documentation 

Once you’ve landed on a candidate, you’ll have to begin filing all of the proper paperwork. You’ll need to:

  • Obtain an employer ID number, if you haven’t already done so
  • Register with the state’s department of labor
  • Get worker’s comp insurance
  • Set up tax withholding
  • Have the employee fill out a W-4 and I-9
  • Report the new employee to the state’s new hire reporting agency

9) Don’t forget to post the worker’s rights notices

You’re legally required to post federal Department of Labor posters. The posters inform employees about labor laws and worker’s rights. 

Ready to start hiring?

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of hiring, your small business is ready to start bringing in new members. Give the hiring process the respect it deserves and it should be smooth sailing from here on out. 

Photo by Brooke Cagle