Key Learning Outcomes

  • Recognise the need for strategic hiring of new staff to ensure your business receives the maximum return on investment.
  • Document the requirements of a job and the qualities of the successful applicant before commencing the recruitment process.
  • Apply our step-by-step guide to building a job profile for a new role or a role which experiences a high turnover in your business.
  • Distinguish between those skills that are required for a role and those that may come in handy.

Article

For any small- to medium-sized business, the decision to take on a new employee will have a significant impact on the bottom line. It is essential that every hiring decision is made strategically to ensure the business receives the maximum return on investment and the new employee is given the maximum chance of success. Too often we hear about new employees that haven’t worked out. It’s often because not enough thought was put into identifying the requirements of the job and the qualities the person needed to be successful in the role.

The following is a step-by-step guide to help you determine there is actually a position to be filled and you have a clear idea of the tasks and duties of the role and the qualities the successful applicant should possess. The following process can be followed when you are either looking to employ someone in a new role or when there has been high turnover in a particular role. If you are one of many small businesses that do not have job descriptions for employees, this article will help you to build a profile for every position – this will make life much easier when you need to replace employees in the future.[wlm_ismember]

Step 1: What needs to be done?

Often for a small business owner, the answer to this question will be “I just want them to look after the front desk and the phones”, or “I just want them to do the work I can’t get to”. Both of these answers are vague and it’s likely they will end up with the wrong person in the role. As so often happens, the first applicant for a job is bright, well presented and high in confidence, and they secure the position because you think they are the answer to your prayers. You then discover that while they are gifted in many areas, they lack the skills required for the role.

Or you might discover you are seeking the wrong skill set in the applicants. For example, you may realise you actually need an accounts person who could answer the phone, rather than a receptionist. Remember this is a two-way process – no one really wants to take a job that they cannot be successful in; it is our responsibility as employers to be clear on the skills that are required to successfully fulfill the role.

You may need to drill down on each activity until you have a full list of what needs to be done. Let’s look, for example, at an accountant’s office that has become so busy the owners feel that they are ready to take on “someone to look after the front desk and answer the phones.”

The list of duties may start like this:

This looks like a fairly generic list of tasks that could be fulfilled by a bright, well-presented candidate that has a good level of confidence. But, if we delve a little further, we may find some additional skills are required. Drill down into each task start to determine what is actually involved. After completing this exercise you may find that there is not enough in the role to warrant employing a new person. In that case, you may look at alternatives such as expanding roles within the existing team or looking at employing someone on a part-time basis if the tasks cannot be done by anyone else.

If we expand on the above list of duties, it might start to look like this:

With a more detailed list of duties and tasks the job specification can be defined to outline what knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics the potential employee will need to have in order to be successful in the role.

Step 2: What skills are required?

When looking at the list of duties, it is important to determine what knowledge, skills and abilities are essential and what training can be provided. If we look at the above example, knowledge of a particular phone system may not be essential as training may be available. However, having dealt with another multi-line system may be considered essential.

Start to break down the essential knowledge, skills and abilities into those that are required and those that would be nice to have. It is also important to be clear on generic terms such as “good communication skills” – what does this mean? Is there a particular demographic group that needs to be catered for? In this case, it may be that there is a particular language skill that is an essential requirement.

Looking at the above example, the list might look something like this:

Job Specification

When building a picture of the skills and knowledge required to be successful in this role, it is evident that there is much more to it than simply answering the phones and greeting clients. In order to be successful, there are some essential skills that the candidate would need to possess.

By completing this process, you are able to use the information to ensure you are attracting the right candidates. Whether you are advertising or using a recruitment service, being clear on what skills, knowledge and experience are essential will save you valuable time and money as you will only interview candidates that have the essential skills. If you are able to give a clear description of the role from the onset, there is a much greater chance of the new recruit being successful and effectively managed in the long run.[/wlm_ismember]

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