Recruitment in a small company is so very different to the recruitment cycles I have been involved in with larger companies in my past, complicated further by it all being done virtually. Many more people have experience of virtual recruitment now, but Housing Online has always planned to keep recruitment virtual, as that is how we work everyday. My past experiences of recruitment have been in big companies, with big budgets. Although I found the recruitment process difficult back in those days, I realise now how naive I was.
As a small company it is a whole different ball game. We have a great reputation with our customers, but as a small company that does not translate into big budgets or a widely recognised name in the general population to draw people in.
"Recruitment takes time and is expensive, so it is important to get it right. You don’t want to be going through the same thing again in six months if it goes wrong"
I have had experience now of everything from writing job descriptions, advertising, sifting through applications, letting people down and setting up and running interviews. There is no luxury of having others deal with it on our behalf. The biggest worry is that we might get it wrong, we might not get the right person for the right role, and the consequences of that would be difficult for them as well as us.
None of our recruitment cycles have followed the same path. We have changed and adapted them each time based on our learnings from the past, but also our roles have all required different pathways. However there are some key points that remain true for us when we recruit:
- Before doing anything else, scope out in writing what it is that the business needs, then get it written down and signed off by everyone involved. The views and requirements from various people may agree on the surface, but once you get into details they often widely differ.
- Take time to consider what makes your company a place where people want to work. This is especially important if your brand is not widely known. Being honest and open about the culture of the company is vital, try to step away from business jargon and be authentic. This is where you can let the company personality shine, so write it yourself even if someone else polishes it for you. It may be tempting to embellish things here, but you are looking for someone to join the business, and to be happy with the job they were sold and to stay.
- Make sure you live your values in the recruitment process: Communicate with your applicants about timeframes, and respond to everyone who applies. I am more than aware that this is time consuming and difficult at times, especially when letting people down, but these are people who you may well come across in the future in a different context. Reputation matters, even in recruitment.
- When offering a package, be generous. You may save a bit of money by trying to barter a new employee down, but this is one of their first impressions of you. If you want your employees to be proud of working with you, to put in their all and to stay in the long term, then treat them well at this point. Any ‘cost savings’ will colour their view of the company, and leave a bitter taste.
- During the interview process bring in other stakeholders from the company. It will give the applicant a wider view of the company, and will give you a more rounded view of the applicant. This is more difficult in the virtual world as there is no chat when bringing them to the interview, or having a cup of coffee whilst waiting: Put a step into your recruitment process to do this in a more formalised way. It didn’t feel natural to start with, but boy was it worth it!
- Recruitment takes time and is expensive, so it is important to get it right. You don’t want to be going through the same thing again in six months if it goes wrong.
- Finally, even though it is tempting, don’t outsource this activity. Getting the right person for your company is so important that you shouldn’t trust anyone else to do it for you, after all our workforce is our most important asset.