How to hire the right employee

In times of economic instability and uncertainty, hiring new employees may be the last thing on your mind, particularly for small businesses with limited cash reserves. Finding the right match can also be daunting, but it's something that needs to be done if you want to recruit only the best. The reality is that if your business requires labour, you will need to start employing.

Here are four tips to hire the right employee for your business while minimising the costs involved.

Cast your net wide

When it comes to searching for potential employees, you should always cast your net into a variety of waters - this means that you should utilise a wide range of recruitment sourcing channels, even if you are a small business. This doesn't have to be expensive either, as most job applications are made online, reducing employers' reliance on placing costly advertisements in the newspaper.

Some sources you should consider using are:

  • Social media, such as Linked In and Facebook
  • Online job advertisement websites, such as Seek and MyCareer
  • Referrals and recommendations from current employees
  • Recruitment agencies

Using social media to locate potential hires is free of charge, but it may also take you longer to find a suitable candidate, especially if that person is outside your firm's online network. It may also be difficult to determine the work ethic of someone located via Facebook - but if you find someone with a decent work experience listing and no inappropriate pictures on their profile, there's no reason why you shouldn't drop them a line.

According to Catriona McCallum, Dun & Bradstreet's Recruitment Consultant, employee referrals are also an excellent sourcing channel, as current employees know the company's organisational culture best and are able to assess if potential recruits fit into the workplace. Providing a small incentive for employees to refer their friends can also fast-track this process, whether it is monetary or not. This can often be cheaper than using online job advertisement websites and recruitment agencies.

Recruitment agencies in particular can set your business back, depending on what level of service they provide. According to Edith Cowan University, fees for permanent placements or long-term fixed contracts range from ten to 18 per cent of the remuneration package. If this is more than you are willing to spend, you can consider using the agency for lower level services such as resume screening or shortlisting applicants.

Write an appropriate job advertisement

Once you've determined which recruitment channels you will be using, it's time to get started on putting together a job advertisement.

"A good advertisement should articulate the basics of the role, such as position title, salary and where it is based. Candidates want to know the purpose of the role, where it fits into the organisation and details of the company, plus additional employee benefits," says Ms McCallum.

You should also list what you expect from the role and what qualifications a suitable employee should have, but refrain from making it sound like a hard sell or it may alienate your target audience or get mistaken for a scam.

For instance, avoid using sentences such as "This is a great opportunity to work with an easygoing team! We offer fantastic remuneration and amazing employee benefits! Call now!"

Be open to new ideas

You shouldn't expect a potential employee to be a carbon copy of you. In other words, he or she does not have to have the exact same management style, ideas, or ways of doing things as you. Diversity is what makes a workplace innovative and creative, and stifling the flow of new ideas into your business is exactly what you don't want.

An employee needs to complement you, not replace you - this is something you should bear in mind when you are sifting through resumes or conducting interviews. However, there is a fine line between having differing opinions and having a negative behaviour or attitude.

For instance, if a potential employee appears disinterested in the role and makes disparaging comments about what is expected of him or her, it's a warning sign that you shouldn't hire this person. Always keep in mind that it's easier to teach a person technical skills than to teach or change inherent behaviours and attitudes.

"If a candidate has demonstrated a good work ethic and enthusiasm to learn the role, you would definitely assess them on their potential to perform in the role in the future, rather than looking at what they have or haven't done in the past," said Ms McCallum.

Conduct background checks

Lastly, you should always conduct background checks into a potential employee at the last stage of the recruitment process.
This includes:

  • Confirmation that they can work in Australia and other work rights
  • Tertiary qualifications, if relevant
  • Police Check

Ensure that all employees you hire are legally allowed to work in Australia, especially if you are hiring people that have recently moved from overseas. If you hire employees who work while in breach of their conditions of entry or who work while illegally in Australia, you could face fines of up to $66,000 and two years' imprisonment.

Read more on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship's website >>

"Police checks are particularly relevant to finance roles where the company could be at risk of financial fraud or embezzlement; as well as retail customer services positions to determine that the employee has no criminal record," Ms McCallum says.

"Obviously, background checks need to be conducted with full disclosure and candidate permission, but they are an important part of the recruitment process.

"Preparation is key. The number one tip is to take the time to really document the purpose of the role, responsibilities, and be clear on what it is doing and why it exists. You can't search for a candidate who will fit the profile until you know what it is you want."

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