Recruiting Tips for Small Business Owners

When you operate a small business, every team member matters greatly, and an open position can drastically impact your success. Hiring expert Scott Wintrip reveals recruiting tips to help small businesses find superior job candidates more quickly and easily.

A CSD Staff Report

Recruiting tips from experts can help you make certain you’re bringing in the best people for your c-store frontline.

- Advertisement -

As a small business owner, you’re beyond busy—and that isn’t likely to change. One moment, you’re serving behind the counter or stocking shelves The next, you’re doing executive tasks like running to the bank to sign loan documents. Add to these roles more selling, negotiating with vendors and managing the team when, suddenly, your best employee gives notice.

Hiring expert and business consultant Scott Wintrip asks the important question: As busy as you are, how will you find time to recruit, interview, hire and train a replacement?

“Small business owners are competing with one another for quality employees,” said Wintrip, author of High Velocity Hiring: How to Hire Top Talent in an Instant. “The internet leveled the playing field, and now your company and all others—big and small—are able to reach out to top talent. This is straining an already tapped out talent pool and has left many small business owners searching far and wide for talented and resourceful job candidates.”

Wintrip points out that small business owners have to find great talent quickly in order to perform at full capacity.

“When you’re operating with a small crew you have to find smart, resourceful talent capable of keeping up with the fast-paced dynamics that come along with a small company,” Wintrip said. “Luckily, fitting hiring into your already busy day isn’t that complicated—it just requires a few easy adjustments.”

Wintrip recommended four steps you can take to make hiring for your small business more efficient than ever.

• Leverage the most productive streams of talent. Asking for referrals and networking with other business people has long been a highly effective way to locate talent, Wintrip said. In fact, business owners who carve out time each week for networking and referral generation discover a secret: The labor pool isn’t as tapped out as they originally thought. They simply weren’t taking a disciplined approach to recruiting.

• Actively share the talent you discover with other business owners. Keep in mind that you’re not going to be able to hire every great candidate you meet. Sometimes talented candidates just aren’t the right fit for your company, and other times, all of your positions are filled. When this happens, be sure to share candidates with other business owners to help them solve their own hiring challenges, often they will be happy to reciprocate. According to Wintrip, business owners who share talent in this manner with at least eight or more businesses report greater success in hiring faster and making better hires.

• Conduct hands-on interviews.The standard approach to hiring is to conduct interviews where candidates talk about work. Not only is this a huge drain on time, it’s also an inaccurate way to assess whether a candidate fits your job. That’s why many small business owners have turned to doing hands-on interviews.

“In a hands-on interview, you experience the candidate doing sample work,” Wintrip said. “If it’s for a sales role, the candidate joins you on a sales call. If you’re hiring for a customer service role, he can help solve a customer’s problem. By watching the candidate in action, you save time while also making a more accurate assessment of whether or not someone is a good fit.”

• Line up key people before you need them. “Some roles are more vital than others, and when these roles are left unfilled, they can harm your business,” Wintrip said. “Plus, the extra work usually falls on your already overflowing plate. Instead of waiting until an employee in an essential job quits or gives notice to start recruiting, do yourself a favor and recruit ahead of time.”

Dedicating 30 minutes to recruiting each week pays off by creating a pipeline of potential talent ready to be hired the moment that vital job becomes open.

“Hiring cycles don’t always happen at the best time, but when they do, you must dive right in and locate talent that will keep your company thriving,” Wintrip said. “If you’ve maintained viable contacts through networking and referral generation, you’ll be able to locate and hire exceptional talent faster than you might expect—even in an overtapped labor pool. Then you can get back to your regular tasks and help your company stay strong.”

Referrals 101: Five Easy Tips to Network and Discover Talent
Word of mouth is a powerful and often overlooked way to find great talent and fill open positions in your small business. Hiring expert Scott Wintrip said developing a referral system can help chains find the job candidates to keep the company going strong.

1) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If there’s a “magic bullet” for effective networking and getting quality referrals, it’s this: Just ask for help. This simple approach often paves the way for people to be generous in pointing you in the right direction.

2) Realize a little goes a long way. Investing a few minutes each day in referral recon pays off in dividends. And it’s so easy it doesn’t even feel like work. When a vendor stops by, ask for their help with referrals, or when you’re at a restaurant having lunch, network with the employees you meet. Small, quick inquiries such as these can turn into big wins when you find a great person to hire.

3) Get specific with qualities you’re looking for. Don’t just ask your contacts for referrals to people who are looking for a job. Ask for referrals to the specific type of person you want to hire. For example, if you’re looking for a store manager, you might say, “Who do you know who is good at managing a store? I’m looking especially for someone who listens more than they speak.” This precision helps the person you’re asking thoroughly “search” their mental Rolodex for the right person amongst the hundreds of people they know.

4) Don’t forget to ask your “obvious” networks for referrals. How often do you ask current employees for their help with candidate referrals? What about their family members or the previous employees who left your business on good terms? “It’s easy to overlook the obvious resources for strong referrals,” said Wintrip.

“But when we do this, we’re likely missing out on the insight of the very people who are most likely to want to help us.”

5) Remember the most important “rule” for attracting great talent. The best attractor of top talent isn’t high salaries or fancy titles; it’s being a great place to work. “Make sure your business has a positive and engaging environment, and you’ll develop a reputation as an enjoyable place to work,” Wintrip said. “Then when you network and request referrals, the people you ask will go out of their way to refer their friends and colleagues to you.”