For many small business owners, the prospect of hiring new employees can be both exciting and daunting. In a small business, each new hire impacts the company's culture and productivity far more than at a large firm. The stakes are high, so identifying and hiring the best possible candidates is essential.
Whether you are growing your business from a solo operation to a multi-person company or creating a key leadership position, here are some best practices for effectively expanding your team and limiting risk from a legal perspective.
1. Create a Compelling Job Description
In order to attract the right people, you need to develop a job description that is clear, accurate and focused on what your business has to offer. In addition to listing specific responsibilities and skills, emphasize that your company is a great place to work. Showcase what is unique and highlight opportunities for training and advancement. Small businesses often compete with larger competitors for the same talent. Even if your ability to pay a competitive salary is limited, many candidates are attracted to opportunities where they will be inspired and rewarded in the long run.
When it comes to writing recruiting materials, be careful not to use wording that could be construed as discriminatory. Avoid publishing job posts that show a preference for or against potential applicants based on a legally protected status (aka “protected class”) such as race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, age or disability. Including the line “Equal Opportunity Employer” makes it clear that your business does not discriminate.
2. Pinpoint the Right Hiring Platforms
If you don’t distribute and disseminate your job posting to the right platforms, you may not reach the best candidates. Take time to research the best options relative to the position you’re looking to fill as well as the resources you have to invest in recruiting. CareerBuilder and Monster may be the largest sites, but there are many niche job boards that serve specific industries or skill sets. For example, Medzilla focuses on the pharmaceutical and biotech industries; Dice targets IT and software engineering; and Upwork specializes in part-time or freelance work.
3. Target Candidates Strategically Through Social Media
Traditional recruiting sites may not always be the most direct way to connect with job applicants. Social media sites including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat can help you expand your search and target prospects with a specific set of skills. LinkedIn is often the social site of choice for business owners. In addition to being business centric, LinkedIn allows you to search for candidates even if they are not actively looking for jobs. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 53 percent of HR professionals say they use social networking to search for “passive” job candidates.
Many businesses do an online search of prospective hires to see what information comes up. It is wise to use discretion and avoid factoring any protected class information into your hiring decisions. Misuse of information found on social sites can lead to infringement of privacy or unintentional discrimination, inviting a lawsuit.
4. Tap Your Business Network
You can often find employees just by contacting people you already have relationships with. This can be as easy as calling select colleagues, discussing your business needs and telling them what roles you’re looking to fill. Keep in mind that, while word-of-mouth is a great recruiting tool, it’s advisable from a legal standpoint to include other tools in your recruiting strategy to ensure the most diverse pool of potential applicants.
5. Incentivize Employee Referrals
No one knows your company better than your current staff. One way to turn your workforce into your best recruiters is to offer an incentive program in which team members can earn rewards such as a cash bonus or gift card for successful referrals. This strategy helps attract talent that is a good “fit” for your firm and increases loyalty among existing staff.
6. Fish Where the Fish Are
Another effective recruiting strategy involves going to where the best candidates for your company are spending their time. Trade shows and industry conferences are often ideal places to connect with potential candidates, including those who may be working for your competitors. There is nothing wrong with hiring an employee away from a rival business, but it’s important to determine if there are non-compete agreements or non-disclosure clauses that limit future work the employee can do. Also be careful to avoid tortious interference, which occurs when one party interferes with the contracts or relationships of another party with the intent of causing economic harm.
The key to effective hiring is to always be on the lookout for top talent. You may not have the need or budget, but keeping a short list of vetted candidates on hand will shorten the process when you’re ready to hire.
If you have questions about hiring practices or issues involving your current employees, call us at 973-509-8500 x213 or email LFarber@LFarberLaw.com.
The contents of this writing are intended for general information purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion in any specific facts or circumstances.