Now May be the Time to Ramp Up Recruiting
Being ahead of the hiring curve can position a company
for the economic rebound
By Margaret Hintz
Employment overall continued to decline during the summer months, but there are some bright spots: more service and manufacturing-sector companies are hiring compared with earlier this year, according to the Society for Human Resource Management’s Leading Indicators of National Employment survey for August 2009.
What is their secret? A growing number of small and medium-sized businesses are taking a long-term view amid the downturn and preparing for future opportunities when the economy regains its footing.
Hiring during a recession can give managers access to a larger, more talented pool of candidates who are eager to work. But companies should tread with caution – acting hastily can lead not only to frustration, but also to costly mistakes.
There are several steps companies can take to successfully recruit the right employees:
Conduct a needs analysis
Before calling in that first job candidate, a company should take a close look at the reasons for hiring. The U.S. Small Business Administration recommends that managers ask themselves:
• Are you properly utilizing the skills and talents of your current employees?
• Can your business growth support a new employee?
• What are the job’s essential functions and key performance criteria?
In addition, carefully calculate any expenses associated with filling a position, including recruitment and training costs and, of course, wages.
There is little margin for error, whether hiring during a recession or when the economy is thriving. Carefully considered decisions now will help avoid waste later.
Develop a clear job description
Letting prospective employees know what will be expected of them might seem like common sense. But as simple as it might sound, companies often overlook the importance of a job description. Not only is it a critical component to the recruiting process, it also can serve as an important legal document and compensation tool.
A good job description should clearly outline the parameters of the position, including the job title, tasks, expectations, goals, skills and education requirements, and working conditions. It also should be well written because it may serve as a first impression of the organization to potential candidates. Avoid ambiguity; be clear and concise.
Maximize recruiting options
When budgets are tight, many companies are tempted to turn to resources that do not always produce the best results. For example, word of mouth can be helpful, but it can also put employers in a potentially awkward situation that could lead to hiring out of obligation.
To avoid that, businesses need to consider all recruiting options, from conventional methods such as newspaper advertisements to newer tools such as online job sites.
In fact, more employers are planning to leverage the Internet toward finding potential employees, according to a 2009 CareerBuilder.com job forecast survey. Nineteen percent of those polled said they would spend more money using recruitment Web sites, while a quarter said they expect to tap into new media sources, such as blogs.
Industry organizations also can be helpful resources. In addition to providing networking opportunities, many of these groups have Web sites that include online job banks that offer members access to resumes from candidates within the field.
It can be reckless to assume job applicants always provide honest information on their resume or during interviews. Nearly half of hiring managers surveyed in 2008 by CareerBuilder.com reported they had caught a candidate lying on their resume.
Another survey, conducted in 2007 by the National Association of Professional Employer Organizations, revealed that two-thirds of the small businesses surveyed said up to half of their job applicants had lied.
Background checks are vital and cost-effective measures that can help protect the company and its employees. A thorough vetting should include obtaining information on a job candidate’s work history, conducting a criminal record search and checking personal references.
Despite the costs associated with such checks, most companies simply cannot afford to skip this step in the recruitment process. Taking a chance and not doing a background check could lead to unexpected and financially disastrous problems.
Just as the economy fluctuates, an organization’s human resources practices need to shift from time to time. Companies that stay focused, re-evaluate their programs and adjust their systems as needed are better prepared to deal with challenges that arise and move forward.
Margaret Hintz is a team manager for Administaff (NYSE: ASF), the nation's leading professional employer organization (PEO), serving as a full-service human resources department that provides small and medium-sized businesses with administrative relief, big-company benefits, reduced liabilities and a systematic way to improve productivity. The company operates 50 sales offices in 23 major markets. For more information about Administaff, call 800-465-3800 or visit http://www.administaff.com.
September 30, 2009