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Navigating recruitment: how to be small but mighty

Discover how to define culture, craft roles, network effectively, and embrace diversity to build a team that propels your business forward.

Therese Lotz
Therese Lotz
April 16, 2024
Inospace recruitment tips
A happy workforce is a successful workforce
A happy workforce is a successful workforce

As the HR specialist at Inospace, I'm eager to share with you essential tips to master the recruitment process. For owners of small to medium enterprises (SMEs), building the right team is a critical step towards success. Recruitment isn't just about filling positions; it's about finding individuals who share your vision, possess the necessary skills, and are committed to propelling your business forward.

Here are some essential tips to set you up for success:

Define your company culture

Before diving into the recruitment process, take the time to define your company's culture, values, and mission—if you haven't already done so in a business plan. These aspects serve as the foundation for attracting like-minded people who align with your business’s ethos. An ethos can either attract or deter people who aren’t aligned, preventing bad hires who may hinder your business's success.

  • Therese’s top tip: Focus on what drove you to start this business in the first place and share your passion. It’s about connecting with candidates on a deeper level.

Craft compelling job descriptions

A clear job description assists with clear expectations of who and what skill set you need. This is also the first impression to potential team members. Be detailed yet concise, outlining the responsibilities, qualifications, and expectations for each role. Highlight your ethos, what makes your business unique, and the opportunities for growth and impact.

  • Therese’s top tip: While drafting the role can be overwhelming, focus on the key elements that either keep the business running or bring in the money. Outside of that, keep it open to discuss at the interview stage.

Leverage your network

Networking is a powerful tool in recruitment, especially for growing businesses. Tap into your professional community, attend industry events, and engage with communities relevant to your business. Personal connections can often lead to high-quality referrals and recommendations, saving you time and resources in the hiring process.

  • Therese’s top tip: The more people you chat with, the more you may learn about what you are looking for. Often, after interviews or brief discussions, I will pivot on my advert or job description as I learn what attracts the type of person I’m looking for.

Embrace diversity and inclusion

Diversity fosters creativity, innovation, and a broader perspective within your team. Encourage candidates from varied backgrounds to apply and ensure your hiring process is free from biases. Often, the easiest way to achieve this is by relying on factual evaluations and not on emotion or “gut” feeling. Embracing diversity not only enriches your team but also enhances your SME's competitiveness and relevance in today's global market. Your recruitment process mustn't discriminate against any background, race, religious beliefs, or gender as it is not only unethical but illegal. Again, stick to the facts of what is needed to do the job.

  • Therese’s top tip: We have such amazing diversity in South Africa; embrace it! Don’t be scared to take a chance on the wildcard person.

Utilise technology and tools

Take advantage of technology and recruiting tools to streamline your hiring process. Applicant tracking systems (ATS), job boards, and online assessments can help you manage applications efficiently and identify top talent. Additionally, consider utilising social media platforms and professional networking sites to reach a broader pool of candidates. Platforms like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Facebook all have tools to assist those first-time users.

  • Therese’s top tip: Remember to tailor your job description into a shorter, more punchy version for advertising. Set up a recruitment email to help manage responses.

Prioritise soft skills

When assessing a potential new team member, remember to keep a balance between the perfect skill set and the perfect gusto/personality for your business. While technical skills are essential, don't overlook the importance of soft skills such as communication, adaptability, and problem-solving. Typically, the environment of a growing business requires individuals who can thrive in dynamic settings, collaborate effectively, and think critically. During the interview process, assess candidates not only for their technical proficiency but also for their fit within your team culture.

  • Therese’s top tip: When interviewing, ask a lot of situational questions to assess how the person problem-solves and thinks on their feet.

Offer competitive compensation and benefits

As a growing business, you may be unable to match the salaries offered by larger, more established companies. However, you can still attract top talent by offering competitive packages and unique perks. Consider non-monetary incentives such as flexible work arrangements, professional development opportunities, and equity options to entice candidates who are passionate about your business's mission.

  • Therese’s top tip: People all have different drivers to succeed. While money drives some, others may prioritise the challenge of a position or the flexibility to be at their children’s school event. Keep in mind that in a growing business, the company should also be flexible in the way they employ and can have individual agreements at the beginning.

Invest in onboarding and development

Don’t underestimate the importance of a proper onboarding structure. Many businesses will invite someone to join the team and on their first day expect them to already understand the way to operate instantly. Take the time to discuss the company’s ethos and how that will be expected to carry through to milestones in the first few months. Set clear expectations; if resources may be delayed, then discuss solutions to provide the necessary resources and support. Most importantly, foster a culture of learning and growth. Effective onboarding not only accelerates the integration of new hires but also cultivates loyalty and engagement over the long term.

  • Therese’s top tip: Successful onboarding doesn’t need to be days or hours long to be effective. I find the best strategy is prebooking weekly catch-ups dedicated to discussing progress and providing a set time to give praise or solve any roadblocks.

Monitor and iterate

Recruitment is an ongoing process that requires constant monitoring and refinement. Keep track of what worked and what needs improvement. Remember to get feedback from the successful person as well as team members who were involved in the process.

  • Therese’s top tip: Bad feedback doesn’t mean failure. Often, we don’t know and learn from our mistakes. Simple changes often make the biggest impact. Make a template for feedback or discuss in a catch-up with the team (not everything needs to be formal).

Build a talent pipeline

While you may not be hiring dozens of people on a daily or monthly basis, take a proactive approach to recruitment by building a talent pipeline for future hiring needs. Engage with passive candidates, maintain relationships with promising people, and stay connected within networking groups. Having a pool of pre-qualified candidates ready to fill upcoming roles can significantly reduce recruitment timelines and ensure continuity in your business's growth.

  • Therese’s top tip: Have exploratory conversations when you are out and about. Share your passion, and you might be surprised at who follows your journey.

Recruitment is all about finding the right people. Bad recruitment or a lack of focus on recruitment can be an expensive mistake within any company. Take the time and pay attention to the process; if need be, get agencies or other professionals to assist. By embracing these insights and implementing a proactive and inclusive recruitment strategy, SME owners can attract and retain top talent capable of driving their ventures to new heights.