Hiring Practices In A Competitive Market

Dec 2, 2009

If you, a small-company owner, have recently had trouble hiring qualified job candidates, you’re in good company. A number of like companies have mulled over the idea of growing their company through adding additional personnel. The simple problem is who will represent the company in the most forthright way, where do I find such a person, will the person fulfill the necessary job description, and can they pay for themselves?

Typical within the aftermarket are ongoing struggles within the shop and retail environment where a limited amount of interviewing expertise is in itself an art form. The following illustrations and recommendations will enable you to utilize the necessary steps to growing your company, shop or manufacturing concern.

Hiring Top Performers

If you’re trying to achieve excellent levels of performance in your organization, it’s going to be a lot easier if you hire terrific people in the first place.

Re-Evaluate The Job Before Hiring

If you’re going to grow your company or achieve excellent levels of performance, it’s going to be a lot easier if you hire top performers to begin with, rather than if you have to be constantly pushing and pulling average performers to new levels. Before you even place the first “Help Wanted” ad for a vacant position, you should do the following:

Re-evaluate the mix of responsibilities assigned to the position.

Consider if your current staffers are assigned to the most appropriate positions.

Prioritize the “must have” qualifications for the job; the important qualifications; and the helpful, but less important, qualifications.

Don’t Just Run A “Help Wanted” Ad

Where should you advertise to attract new help?

“Help Wanted” ads and employment agencies, both of which can be expensive, are obvious places to start. Here’s a few additional suggestions:

Encourage current employees to mention the opening to friends. Consider offering, like many other companies do, a referral bonus.

Put up a sign on your building. This method is simple and has attracted many warehouse personnel.

Place an ad for the position with SEMA.org. This free placement might well be the answer for your targeted applicant.

Consider the local college or university when looking for exceptional and well trained personnel who have skills, need a qualified job reference and will work for a fair wage.

Develop a network of allied company referrals.  Contact like companies who may have recently hired a well qualified applicant and may have a number of available resumes on file easing your search.

Quickly Categorize All Applicants

Efficient hiring practices are easily established with a few quick and easy points. So how does one become more efficient? Here are a couple of strategies.

Immediately sort all candidate resumes into five categories, from the very best to the completely unqualified, and keep every resume sorted this way during the entire hiring process-moving resumes from one category to the next when new information makes this appropriate.

Spend as little time as possible in the early stages of the hiring process eliminating the clearly weaker candidates from consideration, but spend as much time as possible in the final stages of the hiring process sorting out the more subtle differences between the very strongest candidates.

Recruiting Talent, Thinking Sales

When hiring becomes “salesmanship,” component analogies fall neatly into place. The applicant pool becomes the “target market.” The job becomes the “product” we’re selling. And the candidate becomes our “customer.”

The “customer” is at the center of this approach: he or she will be your toughest “sale” ever. Yet viewed from the perspective of the recruit as “customer,” job candidates are already cast in a different light. You’ll likely treat them with more care and respect than might otherwise have been the case.

With this revised attitude an attitude that leads to personal calls, individual accommodations, and welcoming gift baskets providing the backdrop, small companies should then maximize their job offers. While small companies generally can’t outbid major corporations on salaries, they can and must create the most value out of benefits, responsibilities, and culture. Here’s how:


At entrepreneurial companies with lean staffs and tight budgets, employees are likely to acquire new skills and assume wide-ranging responsibility early in their careers. Use this advantage for all it’s worth. Job responsibility is what talented people want most of all, but they don’t necessarily tell that to their employers. Opportunities to learn and advance give your company a distinct edge.
How can small aftermarket businesses emphasize the benefits of working for a small company?

Small companies certainly should ensure job candidates that they do everything they can to provide as much security for people as they can within their budgets. The other thing is to provide benefits if at all possible. I once founded my own company, and I know what it’s like to be self-funded. But I also think a lot of small companies don’t realize how reasonably inexpensive benefits can be. They say, “Oh, we can’t afford dental, or disability.” But when you compare insurance premiums vs. the thousands of dollars you lose when a really good employee leaves, it doesn’t really make a lot of sense not to do it.

The other thing is that you can encourage a candidate to look at a job situation holistically. Yes, a larger company might have a disability plan that your firm doesn’t, but a small company can offer a really ambitious, bright person the chance to learn a lot more. They’ll be getting a lot more job responsibility right up-front and will have the ability to directly influence the company’s growth and development. A smaller company that offers solid health coverage, and a 401(k), and vacation time should be competitive. A job candidate can always go out and buy a vision plan if they really need it. What’s more important is that the employee can test new ideas or business practices and work independently.

Culture Fits

These factors comprise an intangible called “entrepreneurial culture,” a small company’s most valuable asset. Make the most of people’s desire to work for a company that is close-knit, exciting, and fun. What’s crucial is to “package” your culture, and that brings us back to hiring as salesmanship. You want to make sure job candidates get a good glimpse of your culture and that they can easily perceive its value.

The Physical Environment

A small shop owner needs to realize that the physical environment does matter to people. An office, counter top and bathroom sinks don’t have to be gilded marble at the trendiest address or in the best office warehouse in town. But people derive a great deal of their identity from their jobs, and they want to take pride in the place where they work.

Workers do feel good about themselves if they have a creative, clean and well planed work environment. Employers should not discount the importance of making the work place sharp. This makes a big impression when you’re hiring job candidates. Think about the use of color on the walls, putting color matching carpet where best applied, arranging for a nice break room with reading materials such as trade magazines and keeping the work place clean.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line gets down to salary.  How can a small company be competitive? They have to know the going salary rates for qualified team members and be prepared to match them, if not offering more money in making sure they get the best talent. Some smaller company owners will say they can’t afford to pay more. But if you’re an emerging company and you want to grow, you’re not going to get there with mediocre talent.

You need the best candidates, people who value your company name, are proud of caring your business card or wearing your shop coat. People do have a reasonable way of knowing what they are worth and the employer should make it worth their while to keep abreast of current trends as well as regional hiring wages.

A potential employee might settle for a small company with lower benefits, but they won’t come on board if you also expect to pay them less.

Keep in mind that there are only 168 hours in a week. How many growth hours do you have as one person? Aligning with the right teammates will lead you to growth while only having team members may cost you money. Think teammates. Usually it is more that one who pulls your company to a win-win.