Recruiting describes the processes companies use to find qualified
candidates to fill job openings. Some types of recruiting, such as college
recruiting and networking, also serve to bolster the company's
image among certain groups of potential employees. Effective recruiting is
particularly important for small businesses, since finding and hiring
talented employees is a key ingredient for growth. The Small Business
Human Resources Management
outlines three main steps in the recruiting process: assessing future
personnel needs; developing a detailed description of the position to be
filled and a corresponding profile of the person needed to fill it; and
selecting the sources that will yield the best possible candidates.
Throughout the recruiting process, small business owners must remain aware
of the legal issues involved in hiring employees.
Assessing future personnel needs involves taking a close look at the
company's expected workload, the capabilities of the current work
force, the anticipated turnover, and the available labor supply. How the
company stands in relation to these factors will help management to
forecast future employment needs and develop a strategy to meet them. When
a need has been identified, the next step is to perform a job analysis to
collect information on all the tasks involved in the position and the
types of skills, knowledge, and abilities required to do them. The job
analysis leads directly to a job description, which defines all the duties
and responsibilities of the position to be filled. Finally, the small
business owner can use the job description to prepare a job
specification—a written description of the person needed to fill
the position. The job specification is the basis for recruiting, as it
provides the standard against which applicants can be measured.
Next comes the actual search for candidates. In his book
Richard J. Pinsker recommends that companies begin the search process as
early as possible in order to generate a long list of candidates from
which to choose. Even in the early stages of the hiring process, it is
vital to consider the legal environment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and
the Equal Employment Act of 1972 forbid discrimination based on race,
color, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status, or religion.
Therefore, it is illegal for recruiters to inquire about an
applicant's age, marital status, children, nationality, or church,
and employers must be careful to avoid any mention of such issues in
employment ads. It is also illegal to require candidates to submit a
picture along with their applications.
SOURCES OF QUALIFIED APPLICANTS
There are a wide variety of sources available for small business owners to
use in finding qualified applicants to fill job openings. Some of the most
common sources include:
Promoting someone from within the company helps keep employee morale
high, but small business owners should take this approach only if the
person meets the job specifications. In order to facilitate hiring from
within, many companies maintain a skills bank on current employees, post
notices about job openings and encourage employees to apply, and
incorporate apprenticeship programs into employee training. Hiring from
within may be difficult when there is a pressing need to fill a position
and the required expertise does not exist in-house. Furthermore, Pinsker
noted that it is a good idea for companies to fill at least 20 percent
of job openings from outside, because outsiders tend to bring new ideas.
Many job openings in small businesses are best publicized by employees
via word of mouth. Most employees will only recommend applicants with
proven abilities. New hires can be an especially good source of
Networking—developing a wide range of personal contacts within
the industry and community—can provide a number of benefits to
small business owners, including job candidates or referrals. Sources of
networking connections include trade shows, associations, committee
memberships, and charity functions. Pinsker suggests that business
owners also encourage their employees to develop their own networks of
contacts and to contribute names to the company list.
Most businesses receive unsolicited resumes and job applications when
they are not hiring. All applicants should be treated courteously, but
the materials submitted by qualified candidates should be kept on file
for future reference.
Schools and colleges.
Depending on the type of position to be filled, high schools, trade and
vocational schools, colleges, and universities can be good sources of
candidates. Students are particularly good candidates for part-time
positions or those in which prior experience is not needed. College
recruiting is generally handled through a placement office. Companies
usually send a representative to campus twice per year to meet with and
interview students. Pinsker emphasizes that business owners should
consider college recruiting as an opportunity to promote their company
to both students and faculty.
Alumni placement offices.
Many colleges keep resumes on file for alumni who are seeking job or
career changes. Alumni files can be a good source for companies seeking
educated candidates with more work experience than recent graduates
Job fairs can be useful for companies that need to hire several
employees in a given specialty, such as engineering or computer
programming. At a job fair, companies usually pay a booth fee and send
representatives to collect resumes and pre-screen candidates. Like
college recruiting, job fairs provide small businesses with an
opportunity to promote themselves to potential hires.
Most trade associations maintain a central clearinghouse of candidates
who wish to change jobs. Trade shows, conventions, and seminars
sponsored by associations can also provide valuable opportunities to
meet potential employees.
Public employment offices.
The U.S. Department of Labor offers job placement services to some
categories of workers free of charge. In many cases, public employment
offices will provide small businesses with lists of pre-screened
applicants for a certain opening.
Private employment agencies.
These organizations match job seekers with potential employers for a
fee, usually paid by the employer once a candidate is hired.
Outplacement firms are similar to private employment agencies, but
their fees are usually paid by former employers who have laid off or
downsized workers. Small businesses with job openings can usually be
placed on a mailing list free of charge to receive information on
candidates who need a new job.
These firms offer employees to fill a wide range of needs, from
clerical to manufacturing to professional services. Hiring temporary
employees can be a valuable method for companies to screen people before
hiring them on a permanent basis.
Employment advertising includes everything from a "help
wanted" sign in the window, to print ads in local newspapers or
specialized publications like trade magazines, to classified ads on
cable television or the Internet. For a small business, publicizing the
fact that job openings exist is key to gaining access to a pool of
applicants. Advertising can be expensive, however, so it is important to
evaluate media carefully. It may be helpful to ask other business owners
about their experiences advertising in various media. Small business
owners must also be sure that their employment ads comply with equal
opportunity employment laws and do not expose the company to charges of
discriminatory hiring practices. Ads should concentrate on the skills
and responsibilities of the position, rather than on the traits of
applicants. In print ads, it is important to avoid nuances that suggest
a certain gender or age of applicant is preferred. For example, the word
"salesman" should be replaced with
"salesperson," "waitress" should be changed
to "wait staff," and "young" should be
deleted in favor of "energetic." In addition, the
recruiter should make certain that all the qualifications listed are
actually necessary for effective performance of the job.
Internet job banks.
There are a number of recruiting sites on the Internet that allow
employers to screen candidates online. The Internet can be a valuable
recruiting tool, particularly in terms of locating potential employees.
Experts recommend that employers use several of the hundreds of
available sites in order to find the ones that best meet their needs.
Other possible sources of recruiting leads include bankers, accountants,
consultants, customers, competitors, and other professionals with whom the
small business has regular contact. If the recruiting process is
successful, the small business owner will have a substantial list of
qualified candidates from which to select the one person who best matches
the job specifications. The selection should be made through a formal
screening process that may include an employment application, employment
tests, and a personal interview. Each step in the process serves to narrow
the field of candidates until a final selection can be made.
Nicholas, Way. "Talent War."
Business Review Weekly.
August 18, 2000.
Pinsker, Richard J.
Porter, Tom. "Effective Techniques to Attract, Hire, and Retain
'Top Notch' Employees for Your Company."
San Diego Business Journal.
March 27, 2000.
Roberts, Gary, Gary Seldon, and Carlotta Roberts.
Human Resources Management.
Small Business Administration, n.d.
Shealy, Jane. "Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent."