How to recruit the right people for your business

Jürg Widmer Probst

How to recruit the right people for your business

Jurg Widmer

There comes a time in the evolution of every small business where those running it need to make some tough decisions about recruitment. It is a complex area, and while it is a good problem to have – the need to recruit is normally due to the growth of the company – it can often be a fraught time for many young enterprises.

So is there an effective strategy for bringing in fresh talent when your growing business needs it? Are there ways that small business owners can quickly and easily identify the people they need, and recruit effectively for those roles? We believe there are – here are a few of our ideas.

Start early.

In our experience, the recruitment process often starts far too late for many. Too often, a small business owner will realise that they are struggling to fulfil their commitments to customers and will panic – diving into the recruitment process for all the wrong reasons. We firmly believe that any recruitment process has to begin well before this, and form a central part of any company’s strategy for growth.

So, as you are identifying when and where your company will grow, and what you plan to achieve, also think hard about the kind of people you might one day need to help you to do this. In this way, the people you bring in over time should each fit into this overall journey, with each individual contributing to your company’s growth with the specific skills and experience they bring.

Be very clear about what you want.

Building on this, it will obviously be much easier to recruit if you are looking for new people as a part of a broader strategy for growth. Why? Well, because having a clear understanding of where you are trying to get to and the kinds of people who might be able to help you get there will make it much easier for you to write a clear job description.

Doing this well and clearly explaining to potential applicants what you are looking for is crucial – it will help you to attract the best people, who will understand exactly how they will fit in and be able to contribute to your plans. But the process of creating a job description can also be a valuable process for a small business owner to go through too. It is a chance to reflect on what their company really needs at that time, and to focus the mind on exactly the kinds of skills and experience that the business requires.

Recruit for character, not skills.

This may seem counter-intuitive, but bear with us. In our experience, recruiting someone who doesn’t fit into the culture of a small business can actually often be far more damaging than recruiting someone who needs to learn a bit more about the job. Clearly we are not saying just recruit someone who is fun to have around the office, regardless of what they are able to do. Instead, this is about having a very clear idea of the kind of culture you have at your company, and perhaps even the kind of culture you would like to develop one day. The attitudes and behaviours of the people you bring in will dictate what that culture becomes, and that can have a huge impact on the success or failure of your enterprise. So, of course, employ the most capable people you can find, but make sure that they will contribute to your business in as many ways as possible.

A final word on this. According to the website Small Business, Deloitte found that 77 per cent of millennials choose to work somewhere because of the company’s ‘sense of purpose’.

That is a fascinating statistic, because it shows that for all the perks and bonuses you might be able to offer a prospective employee, it is often the sort of culture you have that really matters. We all want to work for somewhere that makes us feel worthwhile, and as if the work we are doing has a purpose beyond just making money.

Clearly, money is an important factor when it comes to recruiting the right people for your small business – but it isn’t the whole story by a long way.

Jürg Widmer 


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