Recruitment Guide for Businesses

Why do businesses need to recruit?

Whether it's sifting through hundreds of CVs, preparing interview questions that will give you useful answers or implementing an effective new-starter process, there are plenty of challenges when it comes to hiring the right person. This recruitment guide for businesses will provide you with an overview of the essentials of hiring your next employee.

If you don't have staff with the correct skills, you'll struggle to make enough of your company's products, or you may provide your services at a limited quality. Both of these can have a huge effect on turnover and the money your business makes.

Companies usually recruit for one of two reasons - whether they have too much work on for their existing staff, or when an employee is leaving and someone with similar skills is needed to replace them.

What does recruitment involve?

Recruitment is more complicated than it might first seem. Besides the actual task of interviewing people, you need to make decisions about budget and job specifications, where to advertise the role, and when to carry out multiple interviews. You need to have a clear idea of what you want in the new recruit and a plan of how you're going to find someone with those attributes.

The cost of hiring an employee

Depending on how you hire an employee, it can cost you anywhere from virtually nothing at all to a few thousand pounds. Generally speaking, there are three ways of hiring an employee, each of which is 'priced' differently.

    1. 'Free': This is when you get your new hire through word of mouth or by posting an advert on a free site or social media network. Of course, this isn't a truly 'free' method, since you will personally spend a while on the advertising, interviewing and induction process yourself.
    2. Advert: Job adverts can vary wildly in price, depending on where you advertise. Classified adverts in the local paper may be a thing of the past, but there's a huge range of job sites you can pay to post on, plus industry publications and sector specific magazines.
    3. Recruitment consultants: Recruiters offer the benefit of allowing you to outsource a large part of the recruitment process, saving you a lot of time and energy. They do come at a price, though, and will often charge you around 10-20% of the employee's first annual salary.

How long is the hiring process?

According to a widely-cited study by job and company review site Glassdoor, the hiring process is getting longer every year - taking up to 30 days in some European countries. Companies are performing more screening tests and multi-stage interviews than before, and, of course, that's not including all the time spent defining the job spec, writing the ad and reviewing CVs.

That said, the choices you make about the hiring process can speed this up significantly; cutting out additional steps might not be right for every business, but if you aim to make your decision in just a couple of interviews, rather than three or four, you'll obviously save time.

Business recruitment process stages

    1.  Understand the position - Work out exactly what the purpose of the job is. Talk to the outgoing employee if you're replacing someone to get a feel for their job, or speak to the would-be employee's manager to find out what they need if you're hiring for a brand new role.

    2. Prepare a job and person specification - Tell applicants what will be involved in the work (and be honest if some of it is less than glamorous) and explain all requirements. You need to be as specific as possible here, so you don't attract people who are actually looking for a different type of work.

    3. Choose where you'll look for candidates - As outlined above, there are different places to look for candidates, which will vary from industry to industry. Does it make sense to place your ad on an online jobs board, or would it be more likely to attract the right people if circulated in your local university's graduate jobs magazine?

    4. Applicant 'sift' - This is the process of reading through all the CVs, covering letters and application forms you received and deciding if the applicants fit the job requirement and have an interesting profile.

    5. Interviews - Next up, you need to interview applicants. Most companies have a multi-stage interview process - perhaps starting with a phone call to get a feel for the candidate before inviting them to the office to meet different members of the team.

    6. Choose an applicant or go back to the market - Once you've had a few interviews, it should hopefully become clear who is the right candidate and you can make them a formal job offer. If the hunt hasn't borne fruit, it might be worth revisiting your spec.

    7. Check their references - If an applicant has accepted your job offer, speak to former employees to get a feel for the candidate's experience.

    8. Help induct them properly - Induction is about giving the first person everything they need on day one, but also arranging reviews in the first few months to see how they are doing, and giving them feedback on their performance.

How to recruit staff for small businesses

Small businesses have a little more flexibility than big companies when hiring staff, but there can be more at stake. Here are some tips to help your small business recruit staff most effectively.

What's the best way to source candidates?

Here are just some of the ways small businesses can source candidates:

      • Post adverts on online job sites
      • Talk to a recruitment firm that specialises in your sector
      • Add a jobs page to your website where anyone can apply or enquire for jobs at any time
      • Comb through social media sites like Twitter or LinkedIn
      • Talk to people in your personal and professional networks

What to look for in hiring an employee

Here's what you should look for when hiring an employee to your small business:

      • Think about how the person would fit in with your company culture; would someone who's quite introverted be at home with a generally extroverted company?
      • Equally, think about what they could bring; perhaps your current employees don't communicate much with one another, so a more vibrant person could help.
      • Before interviewing the person, study their CV and keep your ear to the ground for any inconsistencies in what they tell you.
      • Find out what their true ambitions are; do they really want to work at a company like yours, or is this just a stepping stone for them?

Small business recruitment tips

Here are some key pieces of advice to make sure your hiring process is a success:

      • Set a budget and stick to it - Decide the maximum you're able to pay in recruitment fees and employee salary when it comes to cash negotiations.
      • Ensure all legal requirements are covered - Provide an offer outlining employment details and give new employees a contract for the first three months.
      • Carry out skills tests where relevant - If the role requires experience of the technical tasks, make sure the person proves their cut out for it.
      • Avoid generic interview questions - Don't ask someone to summarise their personality - you should have a sense of this just from speaking to them. Instead, get them to talk about specific examples of work to gauge their passion for the job.

Tricks of the trade

Whether you're hiring your first employee or your fiftieth, hiring new people is such an important thing to get right. With the recruitment tips you've learnt in our guide, however, you're well-equipped to kick the process off with confidence.

About the author

Mike Stephens FCII is a respected senior industry professional and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) with well over 40 years’ varied experience in the commercial insurance sector as a director, underwriter, and operational improvement manager.