Growing companies, in general, must act quickly when an opportunity presents itself. Acting quickly, however, should not put the business at unnecessary risk. Our blogs on “Accelerating Growth and Impact” provide valuable insights for small but growing companies.
Why It Matters to Accelerate Hiring
Small impact companies typically dream of making a significant contribution to solving an environmental or social problem. To do so, they must scale up quickly when the opportunity arrives. A key aspect of growth is hiring needed employees in a timely fashion.
In today’s marketplace, it is particularly important to hire quickly. The best candidates do not stay available for long. Small firms have an edge in hiring speed over larger firms, which can be more plodding and bureaucratic.
Barriers and Risks for Small Business
Small companies face unique challenges when staffing up. They typically do not have an experienced human resource professional to drive the hiring process. The responsibility falls on company leaders, who frequently have limited time to focus on hiring. Small companies also have limited financial resources and are therefore wary of hiring recruiters. Quality referrals can be hard to come by, due to interpersonal connections within only a small community.
There are significant risks if hiring is done quickly without adequate preparation. The hired employee may not be a good fit for the role or the organization. They underperform and end up leaving or are let go. The hiring process begins over again, with additional costs in time and money. In the meantime, critical initiatives are delayed.
Thankfully, there are ways to accelerate hiring without compromising the quality of employees or taking unnecessary risks.
Before recruitment: Lay the groundwork
The best way to accelerate hiring is to be prepared beforehand! When the hiring crunch hits it’s too late to act quickly and hire well.
Develop a good understanding of your company, so that you understand which candidates may be a good fit. Clearly define company values and use them as a litmus test for candidates. Clarify why your company exists – its purpose -- to attract candidates that share that purpose. Clear company values and purpose are critical to compete for employees with larger firms.
Prepare early for key roles. Identify key roles that you expect to fill within the next 2 years. List key responsibilities and expectations for each role, with the help of people who will interact with that role. Internal agreement on the role is critical to avoid downstream disagreements and hiring delays. Write a draft job description and update it regularly.
Network for employees as you network for business. You’re probably already networking to find clients and vendors and to develop funding sources. As you’re networking, identify individuals who might be a good fit even if their future role is unclear. Find ways to stay in touch with them and keep them posted on the activities at your company.
Identify one or more recruiters that you might work with in the future. You might be thinking that you can’t afford a recruiter, but this may change. It’s better to identify a prospective recruiter early, rather than start looking when you’re in panic mode. Identify a recruiter(s) who has expertise and contacts in your area of need.
Recruit interns for part-time roles. This can be particularly helpful for technical roles where fresh knowledge is valuable. When a full-time role becomes available, you already have a pool of job-tested prospects.
If you’ve done your homework early, then you’re ready to move quickly during the recruitment process. You have a good sense of what you need in a candidate, and where to look for them. You may already have identified several good candidates. You know your company’s culture well enough that you can excitedly promote it.
Get the word out in a variety of ways. Notify the people in your personal network and promote it on social media. Ask your employees for referrals and reward them for a new hire. If you’ve decided to work with a recruiter, get them involved early.
Don’t waste your time, but don’t rush. Efficiently work through the hiring process. The biggest delays tend to be the time between activities, rather than time spent performing the activities. Use software to support your hiring – it can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or Access database to start.
When interviewing, pay attention to red flags that can speed up decision making -- arriving late, unprofessional attire, unprepared, etc. Look for insights on their ability to adapt to new roles and environments. Make it easier for candidates by being flexible on interview time and location (including virtual.)
After the interview, perform reference checks outside of those provided by the candidate. Stay in close touch with prospective candidates as you interview others, so you don’t lose them. For each candidate interviewed, document and share why they were or were not a good fit.
Continuously look for opportunities to improve the hiring process. Ask each new hire for recommendations on how to improve the hiring process.
First Steps to Accelerate Hiring
These steps should be completed as part of early preparation – not when the hiring crunch hits!
1. Identify which key roles you expect to fill in the next 2 years.
2. Develop a clear understanding of each role, with input from those who interface with it.
3. Prepare a first draft of the job description and interview questions and update it regularly.
4. Identify how and where the best candidates may be found.
5. Build an evergreen list of prospective candidates and develop relationships with them.
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