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How to find the right person for the job

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With talk of a skills shortage and as unemployment steers clear of the double-digit figures predicted by the many merchants of doom and gloom, now is the time to look out for your star players.

Of late, labour market experts have warned that this is the time for employers to ensure they have a sophisticated recruitment and retention plan for their workforce.

How is your plan looking? If it’s a little less ‘sophisticated’ and a little more ‘spasmodic’, then you need to take time and put systems in place when looking for new employees to take your business to the next level. 

So, how do you go about finding the right person for the job?

Any business owner will tell you their key employees are an essential part of their success. However, if they’re not a good fit, employees can also cause employer headaches!

Like most small businesses you probably don’t have the luxury of a dedicated human resources (HR) person. If that’s the case, develop a HR policy and procedures manual — this will include how to hire new staff to grow your business, and will cover all aspects of the process. This is all part of developing systems in your business.

Sure, finding the right people to help your business grow can be difficult, but there are some simple things you can do things to help make hiring staff less of a lucky dip.

No matter what anyone tries to tell you, there is no fail-proof formula to follow when choosing the right person for the job. As you no doubt know, a person may look great in the interview, but after a couple of months in the job, you could discover you have a ticking time bomb.

Here are some quick tips to help you make the right choice.
  • To find who you’re looking for, you first need to know what you’re looking for. To help clarify what the job involves and how to find someone to do it, the first thing to do is write a detailed job description. When you’re familiar with the job, you can then use the job description to help you write out your advertisement and your contract of employment — this should state what you expect your employee to do.
  • Be clear on what kinds of skills, abilities and experience you need for the role required, and be realistic about what this is going to cost you.
  • You also need to consider what kind of person you need — are you after a ‘people person’ to liaise with customers and promote you business? Or are you after a ‘numbers person’?  

So you’ve worked out the job description, the pay and the person you need, but where will you find the right person? Perhaps there’s someone you can promote in your business already? Don’t overlook this possibility. In many small businesses, growth comes from within the ranks.

When writing an ad, make it specific in order to narrow down applicants and don’t give misleading information about the work, conditions or pay. Remember, you are writing your ad in order to catch the attention of your star candidate. You can also have a little fun with it — the best-selling author turned principal John Marsden wrote a beauty when advertising for a teacher for his school:

“Teachers: embed yourself in an idiosyncratic, whimsical, iconoclastic, pedagogical bush environment, where staff members who favour The Mighty Boosh and the Western Bulldogs receive unfair preferment. An interest in working with the younger kiddies, as well as a passion for phonics, won't go unnoticed when the applications, if any, are being perused. A genius for hard work won't go unnoticed either … You will need a full CV and three referees of good standing in the world of education — not your drinking buddies from the Marquis of Lorne, unless they happen to be school principals, which would be no surprise given the way some of those principals knock it back these days. Further details about the school are at X.”

Next up, the interview stage. You need to spend some time talking to potential people, but time away from your business costs you money — so be prepared in order to cut down the time wasted.

If you have received a high level of interest for an advertised role and find you are faced with many prospective candidates, try using a recruitment seminar to generate a short list. Invite the candidates into your office for a 10 to 15 minute presentation on the company — who you are, what you do, how the role fits in — followed by one-on-one interviews with those that are interested in pursuing the position.

This is not only an effective way to meet and greet the candidates, it also saves you time — the whole process should take no longer than a couple of hours, as opposed to spending 30 to 60 minutes on each individual interview.

Once you have your short list, bring each potential candidate in for a second interview, asking questions such as: how would you evaluate your performance in your current role? What is your greatest achievement? And, what other roles are you considering?

This way, even if they’re not the ideal candidate for the job in question, they might be the perfect fit elsewhere in your business!


Work on your business, not in it. To learn how, book a complimentary business assessment today with a Switzer Business Coach.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Friday, April 09, 2010

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