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Be like Steve, chill out about recruitment

When I asked Steve, a successful small business owner who employs 12 staff, what he thought was one of the biggest challenges he faced in operating and growing his business, he thought for about 3 seconds and said, “Geez, it’s been hard to find good staff!”

I asked him to explain what he meant, ”Look,” he said, “we have no problems getting people to apply for vacant positions when we advertise on Seek. But, last time we had over 300 applicants for an administration role!”

But isn’t that a good thing? Doesn’t that give you a great pool of candidates to choose from? Steve didn’t think so,

“How do I, as a small business owner operator, with no dedicated HR staff or expertise, deal with that? I’m time poor anyway and there’s no way I can spare the time to read 300 resumes and applications and interview dozens of candidates. So, it’s really pot luck if you choose someone from the pool. Most times its easier just to put the word out through staff, colleagues, other businesses and contacts to refer someone they know. But we’re not necessarily getting the best person for the job that way either.”

Does this sound familiar?

The reason there are so many people out there looking for a job, a new job, a different job, or a better job is because the number of people competing for available positions in the Sunshine Coast region each year is more than double the number of positions available!

Normal labour market turnover accounts for around 31,000 people or, 20% of existing employees changing jobs every 12 months. If we include unemployed people and those moving to the region, this equates to a staggering 40,000 people competing for around 23,000 available jobs per annum. Also, local employer surveys show a ratio of 6 – 10 applicants per job with 2 suitable applicants per job on average.

If we use Steve’s example of 300 applicants, potentially, there could be up to 60 suitable people applying for his administration position! How do you find the time to interview 60 applicants to find the right one? And what about the cost for small businesses?

Based on the data, 10,500 vacancies per annum will be in small businesses. If each of these vacancies is advertised on Seek at an average price of $500 and we add in the hours spent by business owners going through the recruitment process and the opportunity cost of this, you get to a figure of $3-5,000 pretty quickly. That equates to over $52 million per year across the small business sector!

I asked Steve how he dealt with the stress and costs of recruiting staff, “Well,” he said, “We’ve moved on since the last recruitment exercise. I’m now pretty chilled out about the whole thing. We found a great recruitment partner that helps us target the type of person we want for our business through their extensive networks and utilising a range of different recruitment channels. This way, we are fishing where the fish are, not just throwing a hook into the water and hoping the right fish comes along.”

And what about the costs?

“Well, you have to expect that there will be some costs involved if you want to find the right person and we’ve really minimised these by taking advantage of some of the assistance that’s out there. It would cost me a hell of a lot more in time and wasted opportunity to wade through 300 applications. Remember, howit costs, is up to you.  And I’ve decided that it’s not going to cost me my health or sanity.”

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