How to Recruit Employee in Small Business


The first person you employ is often a friend or a member of the family. How do you set about finding someone you do not know, and selecting the right person to suit you and your methods of working?

Preparation

To make sure you get the right person for the job, you must know what you are looking for. It is advisable to draw up a Job Description, which outlines the job, and a person specification which gives you a profile of what you are looking for: those elements which are essential in the person you want to employ, and those which are desirable.

Recruit Employee

Advertising

When advertising in the local press or the Job Centre remember to include in the advertisement at least: job title and brief outline; location; pay; full- or part-time; any special skills, knowledge, experience and personal qualities required; how to apply; closing date.

Your advertisement must not discriminate on grounds of race, sex, disability, age or whether a person is married, single, gay and so on; you may put preferred ages but you risk losing good people. It is illegal to employ children under 13; children between 13 and school leaving age may be employed under certain conditions; they can be employed to do a paper round, for example. There is no upper age limit for employment, and with the abolition of the earnings rule, pensioners may now earn as much as they wish. Mature people often make very good employees, especially on a part-time basis.

Selection and interviewing

If you are looking for someone to run a small office and think that ‘good with figures’ and ‘good telephone technique’ are essential, you should have some way of testing this. As far as telephone techniques are concerned, you could get applicants to telephone for an application form and make notes of how they deal with you on the phone. ‘Good with figures’ sometimes requires a simple maths test – GCSE level Maths is not always a sufficient indicator. GCSE level English does not mean that someone is capable of writing a good, clear, business English letter.

You can learn quite a lot from the way people fill in an application form, so try to use one. The areas normally covered in an application for employment form are: name; address; date of birth; skills; qualifications; employment history; outside interests.

Ask applicants to complete the form in their own handwriting, so you can see whether they can write neatly, can spell correctly and so on, if this is important to the job. The previous work experience can also be very revealing: it can give you a good idea of whether a prospective employee can hold down a job for a sensible length of time, or whether he or she tends to flit from job to job. Explore any gaps (even of a few months) in the working history. It could be that the applicant has been in prison. This is not a good reason for rejecting an applicant out-of-hand, but you need to know. Look out for any discrepancies in the way the form has been completed – for example, does the stated age tie up with the date of birth? If people are less than truthful on an application form, they might be slightly less than honest in their employment. If you ask for ‘hobbies’ on the form, explore what applicants mean by their replies. For example, ‘football’: does this mean they play (in which case they are probably fit) or do they watch? For ‘music’, if they listen, that is different from playing an instrument, which requires perseverance and manipulative skills. If they play in a group, band or orchestra, it shows you they are used to working with others.

From the application forms, select perhaps three or four to interview. Reject at once any which do not fulfil the essential requirements, and reply to all those who apply, even if it is only to say no.

When you interview applicants, ask questions to get them talking about themselves and what they can offer you and why they want the job. Asking open questions – What did you do? Why did you …? How did you …? helps to get them talking about their skills, knowledge, experience and personality. Of course you should also make sure they understand not only what the terms and conditions of employment are, but also what the job entails. A Job Description for a WP Operator/clerk could look something like this:

Job title: WP Operator/clerk

1 Deal with all incoming and outgoing mail

2 Answer the telephone

3 Write letters

4 Do the company’s book-keeping

5 Pay wages

6 Undertake banking

7 Use the PC or laptop

8 Any other job needed to keep the office running smoothly

Recruit Employee

If you let prospective employees see at least a Job Description at the interview stage (or send one with the Application Form) they can decide whether they can cope with the job, and might weed themselves out at an early stage. If you discuss the Job Description at the interview stage, it will give you an opportunity to find out where any weaknesses lie and where training would be needed. Putting ‘Any other job’ can sound vague, but it does mean the employees, if they accept the job based on the description, agree to be flexible. Be aware that under the Data Protection Act comments written on application forms or interview notes could nave to be shown to the applicant. They could also be used in evidence by an unsuccessful applicant who claims their failure to get the job was because of discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, age, sexual orientation, religion or belief and disability.

Use the interview fully so that each side can find out as much as possible about each other. It takes time, but it is time well invested. A good employee will stay with you and quickly become part of the company. Employees who do not fit in leave, and then you have to start all over again.

Once you have made your selection, made a formal job offer in writing to the successful applicant, and have had a definite acceptance in writing, write to those who were not successful.

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About the Author: Marie Mayle is a contributor to the MegaHowTo team, writer, and entrepreneur based in California USA. She holds a degree in Business Administration. She loves to write about business and finance issues and how to tackle them.

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