“It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” – Steve Jobs

According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), MSMEs had generated 59.6 million jobs as of December 2017, with 5% or 2.8 million of those jobs created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs). With MSMEs' significant role in revenue generation and economic development for developing nations like Nigeria, MSMEs will continue to facilitate job creation.

For every small business desirous of growth, particularly when more hands are needed on deck to scale; it is important to have the right people on board. Though the process of recruiting can sometimes be a herculean task, especially when you as a small business owner have to be part of the process from start to finish. It is critical to note that no matter how skilled or experienced you are as the founder of your business, hiring capable hands is necessary to enable you to unbundle the stress of handling multiple roles, which is essential to attaining increased productivity.

The strength of small businesses depends on the kind of human resource employed to deliver on the vision and value proposition of the business. Hiring the wrong staff can stifle business growth, just as having the right staff can help spur your business to greater heights. It is thus necessary to hire right. Below are some of the common mistakes to avoid during the recruitment process: 

  1. No Recruitment Plan

Many business owners just know they need to hire but don’t have a structure in place to manage the process, neither do they have a clear understanding of how the recruitment would fit into a larger goal. Once you determine to take up the recruitment responsibility on your own instead of outsourcing the function to a recruitment agent, you need to ensure that you follow through with a process that would enable you to save time and achieve your desired result. Thus, you need to plan your recruitment the same way you plan to promote your products and services.

To avoid spending too much time during the recruitment process, have in place a guide that helps you through the journey from the point of identifying the position to be filled, to preparing the job description and person specification, advertising the vacancy, arranging interviews, shortlisting, managing your responses, making the final decision and then, onboarding.

Your guide should also include the important interview questions to be asked which would enable you to test both the technical and behavioural requirements needed for the job. The questions should not only focus on the general and technical understanding of the role but should be tailored to the particular requirements of your business. For instance, expecting your recruit to work beyond 5 pm on a regular workday, when this was not stated as a requirement or asked during the interview process. Also, have a plan in place that enables you to set a template that can be improved upon for future recruitments.

2.    Advertising Unrealistic Job Descriptions

Hiring the right person can be tiring and sometimes confusing if the job roles are not clearly stated. This is one of the mistakes small businesses make. Often, business owners expect too much and state requirements that are beyond the position to be filled. For instance, advertising the job description of a manager, when the candidate required and the salary budget is for an officer; or combining multiple roles for one candidate to take advantage of the unemployment situation in the country by paying less for more.

It is important to be specific and clear while creating the job description, qualifications, qualities and years of experience required for the position to be filled. The salary range considered should also be specified or mentioned during the interview process to save yourself the stress of having to screen and interview too many candidates, who may be unwilling to accept the salary budgeted for the role.

  1. Ignoring Soft Skills

Soft Skills are attributes that make candidates stand out from others. They enable business owners to ascertain whether or not a candidate can go the extra mile when recruited into the organization. Though it could be quite difficult to appraise the soft skills of a candidate, it is important that testing for the same is not ignored during the recruitment process.

You may have a highly skilled candidate that is arrogant and unable to work with teams or a candidate with poor communication skills and inability to think out of the box. These are some key attributes required in employees working with small businesses, because of the need to constantly innovate and adapt to change. 

Beyond education and experience, you need to know that a candidate’s soft skills can affect their work performance. Therefore, it is important to put to test their interpersonal skills and work ethics to the requirements for the job. This can be done by asking for practical examples/testimonials from their previous employers or references.

  1. Hiring Based On Sentiments

Sometimes, candidates can be referred by a business partner, supplier or someone known. In situations like this, some business owners tend to make the mistake of putting themselves under undue pressure in a bid to satisfy the third party referring the candidate. While it is good to consider the candidate referred, you should ensure he/she passes through the same recruitment process others would, while making sure your decision is not bias or sentimental.

The qualities and qualifications of the candidate, as well as their fit with your requirements, should be the basis for making your decision instead of the feelings or the perception that you assume the third party will have about you if you choose otherwise.

Also, don’t ignore your instincts but avoid hiring based on favouritism, appearance or gender. Recruit the most competent for the job based on their technical and soft skills. 

  1. Trying To Save Cost By Hiring Less Qualified Persons

Another mistake made by small businesses is not hiring experts for their businesses with the mindset that hiring experts will be costly thus making them recruit less qualified candidates. Doing this can be costly in the long run because less qualified persons may find it difficult to execute your requirements swiftly. Except you already have in place a structure that helps recruits develop their skills in line with your business needs, you should consider working with smart people who are capable of running the business with or without your input.

To avoid recruiting persons that would end up being less productive, ensure the persons recruited know the job requirements very well and have the right attitude needed to work with your team.

Finally, don’t let the recruitment stop with the job offer. Have in place an onboarding process that enables recruits to fit into the vision of the organization. Employees need to be properly on-boarded, with necessary training and programs required to make the process seamless.

You can hire the best employee available, but without continuous development, access to resources and little motivation required to ensure job satisfaction, that employee is likely to struggle. Recruitment doesn’t stop after the job offer has been made and no matter the size of your business, you should be committed to making sure that employees adapt properly.