4 Things Every Small Business Needs to do Before Posting a Job

April 18, 2016

Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu once said that every battle is won before it’s ever fought. And he’s right – preparation lies at the heart of success.

That logic certainly applies to hiring, particularly for small businesses. The problem is, often small business owners are busy with so many other things, they don’t adequately prepare before posting a job and ultimately hiring someone.

But, if you can prepare before you ever even post a job, it’ll make the hiring process go much more smoothly and vastly increase your chances of hiring someone great. And that will truly make your life easier.

Specifically, there are four things a small business owner should do, before ever posting a job. They are:

1. Define the job with these three questions

If you are hiring someone for your small business, you probably have a pressing need that you need them to take care of. But hiring guru Lou Adler suggests digging deeper than that with three probing questions that will help you define the exact person you need.

The three questions and their importance are all detailed here, but they are:

  • What are the 2-3 major objectives a person in the role needed to perform over the course of the year that you’d all agree defined on-the-job success? 
  • For each major objective, what are the one or two subtasks the best people do differently to ensure the major objective is met?  
  • What are the most important skills, behaviors or competencies essential for success in this role?

Answering those questions should help you narrow down to the exact skills and mindset you are going to need in the person you hire.

2. Figure out the compensation range for the position

Finances are invariably tight for any small business. That said, if you offer a below-market salary, you are limiting your talent pool. And hiring a great person should be the highest priority. 

Two things worth remembering here though. First is another piece of advice from Adler, who argues that money isn’t the key to recruiting a candidate. Instead, he believes finding someone’s intrinsic motivations – essentially, what they want to do in their career – and then appealing to that is the key to closing top talent.

Secondly, LinkedIn research has found that the most common reason people change jobs is career progression, not money. In other words, people want a career that can take them places. That’s often the case at a small business, as people learn a host of valuable new skills and, if the company can grow, there’s great opportunity.

So, yes, money matters. But other things can trump cash. Whatever you decide your range is, remember that alone won’t guarantee a great person – instead position the job as a great opportunity, not as a payday.

3. Write a compelling job description that’s going to attract top talent

The next step is writing a job description that’ll help you attract the top talent you’re looking for.

The good news here is that most job descriptions are relatively bland and do little to inspire a person to apply. So, if you write a good one, it’ll really stand out and give you a major advantage.

Here are the keys to writing a standout job description, but the big takeaway is to avoid the corporate-speak and endless list of requirements you see in most. Instead, craft a description that truly reflects the culture of your company and the goals you have for the job.

4. Figure out a reasonable sourcing strategy

Once you have your job description, it is time to start figuring out a sourcing strategy. One of the most common ways to do that is to post the job on LinkedIn, and here’s a list of free things you can do to extend the reach of that post.

But, as a small business owner, the problem with just posting a job on a job board is that it often means you have to screen through many candidates, to find the few that are truly worth interviewing. Additionally, a mere 30% of the workforce is actively looking for new jobs, so you are severely limiting your talent pool by relying solely on candidates who apply via a job board.

Hence, another sourcing strategy is to seek passive talent – i.e. people who aren’t looking for a job – through both referrals and via LinkedIn. For referrals, be sure to share your job description with your network and ask if they know anyone who’d fit, as referrals are often among the best source of hire.

Using LinkedIn, you can also search to see the talent in your area that would be a fit for your organization and InMail them. This ensures you are spending time with candidates you find particularly desirable, instead of the unknown talent pool that comes via a job board.

What’s generally the best sourcing strategy? It depends on your needs, but usually it is a combination of all three.

Once you’ve completed all four steps, you can post your job and start sourcing with confidence. Odds are, you’ll make a much stronger hire.

*Image from Death to the Stock Photo

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