Your business is growing, your customer base is expanding, and the time has come to expand your small business team. But how should you go about finding top-notch employees? Especially those that are enthusiastic and plan to stick around for more than a month or two.
Well, making the decision to hire new employees for your company is only the first step — the actual hiring process takes a lot of time, strategy, and patience. And when labor shortage solutions feel out of reach and hiring new employees costs an average of $4,129, you want to make sure you get it right.
Finding and hiring the right employees can feel like climbing a mountain, but that’s why we’ve created a guide that unpacks all our best practice tips to help you find and hire a great team — and retain them over time.
12 ways to find new employees
It’s no secret that small businesses have been facing recruitment challenges in today’s job market and struggling to compete for top employees. But don’t fret! It may be tough out there, but with the right strategies, recruiting and hiring a great team is possible. Here’s how.
1. Create a detailed job post
Before you even begin researching where to post your open job, create a detailed post to distribute across a few different job boards.
Here’s an effective way to structure your post:
- Job title: Make your job title as specific as possible and use keywords you might see in other similar job titles. That gives you a better chance of getting your job post in front of the right people. So, instead of “Weekend Kitchen Staff Member Needed,” it’s better to write “ Line Cook: Nights/Weekends, Experience Preferred.”
- Job summary: This is your opportunity to catch the attention of job seekers and include details that make your business stand out. For example, if you’re posting about a retail manager position, you could start out with: “With competitive pay, this is a great opportunity for anyone who likes variety — you’ll get to try your hand as a marketer, store manager, and product specialist. Not to mention, we’ll give you all the on-the-job training you need.”
- Responsibilities: This is where you’ll get into the nitty-gritty of the job. What specific types of tasks fall under the job title? Get as detailed as you can here. For example, if one of the aspects of the job is event planning, explain exactly what that looks like for your business.
- Qualifications and skills: How many years of experience does your ideal candidate have? What’s their educational or professional background? And finally, what kinds of soft skills and hard skills do they need?
- Wages or salary: Not all employers post salary or wages, but they should, because employees appreciate it. In fact, almost 1 in 4 job seekers find it to be the most important part of job descriptions, so you should consider including it.
2. Review other job postings
Your brand doesn’t exist in a bubble, especially if you’re a small business targeting local talent — your competition is likely hiring from the same network of candidates as you. And if your competitors are well-established companies, they also likely have some valuable recruitment strategies under their belts.
What we’re trying to say is, don’t reinvent the wheel. Pay attention to where your competitors post jobs, how they write their job descriptions, and, if possible, how they screen potential candidates.
Then, glean what’s useful for you. If you’re a new business owner, you may not be able to list as many perks and benefits as your competitors do, but you can structure your job descriptions similarly. You can even engage with a few of them to learn how competitors structure their initial conversations with interested candidates.
You can also consider what’s missing from your competitors’ job postings and see where you can fill in those gaps when you write your own. For example, do they mention opportunities for learning and development (L&D) or mention that new hires will gain exposure to skills and knowledge they won’t get from larger businesses? Find ways to showcase the unique benefits your job alone can offer to new talent.
3. Post on job boards
Hiring employees through job boards is a quick way to connect with potential candidates. To nail your recruiting strategy, let’s look at the top job board sites and break down which ones may work best for you.
With Homebase hiring and onboarding, you can post your open positions across multiple job sites simultaneously and track your advertisements from within the Homebase app. Then, when potential candidates start replying to your posts, Homebase will also let you screen them, follow up with them, set up interviews, and hire them in the same place. We’ll even streamline the onboarding process by sending your new hires a digital packet with all the necessary paperwork, saving you time on human resources obligations.
And if you’re not sure how to get started writing a job description, you can also use our customizable templates to inspire you and save you time.
With over 200 million CVs from potential candidates, Indeed is one of the most popular job boards and a great way to tap into a large pool of job seekers that might have the skills you’re looking for. And with Indeed, you can post jobs for free or sponsor them to reach more qualified candidates.
However, keep in mind that Indeed is a general site that doesn’t specialize in any specific industry, so it’s not a good idea to count on their platform alone to source your candidates.
Job ads on Craigslist can potentially attract dozens of applicants, and posting on the site isn’t a complicated process. What makes Craigslist particularly useful is that you can target your users based on location, which makes it simple to find regional candidates.
It’s worth noting, though, that it can cost between $10 and $75 to post jobs on Craigslist, depending on your state. And while Craigslist receives 250.6 million visitors every month, it’s not only a job board. People also use it to buy and sell goods and services, find housing and roommates, and post other types of advertisements, so, like Indeed, you should use it alongside other more industry-specific job sites.
ZipRecruiter is easy for both business owners and job seekers to use. And its unique Quick Apply feature makes posting open roles seamless.
Employers who use ZipRecruiter also report a 98% increase in quality applicants and a recruiting process that’s 6x faster.
However, ZipRecruiter isn’t free, and at a minimum of $16 per day per job, it’s an expensive option for business owners who only need to post a single position.
We Work Remotely
We Work Remotely is a useful site for hiring remote employees, especially if you’re a small business owner looking for a freelancer or independent contractor to handle your marketing, writing, or web development projects. The platform also makes it easy to target remote professionals in whatever niche or industry you need.
Posting a job will cost you $299, though, so We Work Remotely works better for hiring remote leadership, management, executive employees, or long-term freelancers rather than entry-level candidates.
Qwick is a restaurant-specific job site where you can not only post your restaurant’s job openings but also share and fill your open shifts quickly. That means if you’re not ready to commit to a full-time hire, you can try new staff members out for a shift or two when you need extra help.
But while it’s free to post on Qwik, they do charge a 40% flat rate on top of your workers’ hourly rates, so it may be best to use this platform in a pinch when you’re short-staffed.
4. Leverage your social media presence
More and more job seekers are turning to social media to find opportunities because it’s easier to connect directly with leadership and hiring managers. Social media also lets applicants create a more holistic representation of themselves beyond what they highlight in their resume.
So it’s no wonder that 92% of employers use social media to recruit and hire new talent, and they aren’t just using LinkedIn. That means your competitors are finding candidates you’re missing if you’re not also incorporating social media platforms into your recruitment process.
To make social media work for you, be creative and showcase your work culture. For example, you can:
- Show how your organization works behind the scenes.
- Share posts capturing team-building moments with your employees.
- Let your employees share their personal stories and how your organization has improved their lives.
- Publish #hiring posts that explain why people should want to join your team.
- Use your profile and posts to talk about your business’s unique culture and values, and mention specific ways you and your team demonstrate them.
- Encourage your employees to share that you’re hiring in their personal profiles.
The best social channels to use are Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and more recently, TikTok. However, although plenty of business owners have success with these channels, you should test them out, see which ones work best for your business, and take stock of how much time and resources you have to manage your business’s social media accounts, especially if you’re new to it.
For example, a small real estate firm might have more success sourcing potential candidates on LinkedIn and Twitter, but a restaurant or salon could have better luck experimenting with Instagram and even TikTok to showcase their unique brand and products.
5. Create a career page on your company website
Rather than relying solely on a job posting to sell your business for you, you can create a career page on your company website to get into more detail about your values.
So, first, do some research on your competitors. What do they include on their career pages, and what do they omit?
And if you’re not sure where to start with your career page, here are some of the essential elements to include:
- A list of your business’s core values or reasons why potential employees should want to apply to work with you.
- An introductory video that talks about what it’s like to work for your company or shows a day in the life of an employee.
An FAQ section that answers any preliminary questions a candidate might have.
6. Go to job fairs
Think of job fairs as speed dating — but for recruiting. At a job fair, job seekers and companies get together to see if they’re a good match through professional networking. And even though they can often be large up-front investments for business owners just starting out, job fairs can be a great way for small businesses to get their brand in front of actual people.
To make sure you promote your company well and attract the best candidates for your open positions in career fairs, keep these tips top of mind.
Be strategic on which job fairs to attend
Career fairs take place in a wide variety of locations, within specific job categories and many industries. You can’t realistically attend them all, so check the National Career Fairs site, which lists all the job fairs scheduled for the entire year ahead.
You can also use LinkedIn’s filters feature to find industry-specific career expo events that may interest you.
And for an extra-local reach, you can sign up for Eventbrite updates to get informed about local and neighborhood job events.
Prepare for the event
It takes more than showing up to an event to make it effective — you need to be strategic. So, consider appointing someone to be responsible for the whole event, including registration, travel, and setting up and designing your table.
Create a game plan and recruitment objectives for every job fair you attend. These can include:
- Meeting ten candidates for your open mechanic position
- Finding 15 great employees for your sales team
Making social media connections with ten employees from top competitors (job fairs are also popular for “poaching” quality candidates)
7. Ask your employees for referrals
Satisfied employees can be some of your business’s strongest ambassadors, so why not ask them to join your employee referral program? Then, they can recommend you far and wide and even take to social media to share why they enjoy working with you.
But what’s an employee referral program? It’s a recruitment method that incentivizes participating employees with rewards for every employee they recommend. It’s also a great way to find new team members who match your current employees’ skills and talents.
The key thing to remember about referral programs, though, is they shouldn’t be mandatory. With that said, here are a few incentives you can offer employees for participating:
- Extra paid days off
- Gift cards or customized gifts
- L&D opportunities
- Rewards like a spa day, a celebratory dinner, or access to local events
8. Give interns and entry-level employees a chance
If you’ve ever been hesitant about employing minors or hiring an intern for your small business because you’re afraid you won’t have enough work to give them or will have to spend a lot of time training them, don’t be. Doing so can be a great way to get extra help during particularly busy times of the year. And, if you choose to hire less experienced workers, they won’t have any bad habits to unlearn because you’ve tailored their training to match your needs.
Just consider these things if you decide to offer opportunities to interns or minors:
- Know the restrictions that the Department of Labor (DOL) imposes on workers under the age of 18. For example, under-18 employees can’t work with certain kinds of machinery, and the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) only permits workers between 14 and 15 to work 3 hours a day while school’s in session
- Know the laws regarding unpaid internships. For instance, the terms of your internship should pass the primary beneficiary test laid out by the US DOL.
- Provide comprehensive, impactful training. Think of hiring younger workers as a learning opportunity and put together a clear, detailed path for their professional and personal development.
9. Lean on company culture
Company culture is an essential part of finding top talent. It affects every part of your small business, from recruiting great employees to improving employee retention — and it’s the backbone of a productive team.
But what do you do if your company culture needs work? How do you create more engagement?
- Celebrate employee wins, big and small. For example, if a customer mentions how much they appreciated the wait staff on a Friday night, call that team out during your next staff meeting.
- Create a healthy work environment by making employees feel they can always come to you with comments, complaints, questions, or suggestions.
- Invest in your employees’ futures with relevant training and growth opportunities.
- Consult employees about their availability and offer flexible work schedules if you can.
10. Implement an employee recognition program
You can build a good culture for your organization by developing an employee recognition program. Employee recognition programs are crucial to both motivating employees and retaining them in the long haul.
A study by Gallup found that employees who feel appreciated are more productive and engaged. But you have to be strategic about how you recognize people’s efforts. So, rather than celebrating a team member on their birthday or nominating an employee of the month, tie employee recognition to your business values. For example, if one of your core values is teamwork, give bonuses based on teamwork rather than performance.
11. Create a great onboarding program
If you worry about hiring and firing, creating a solid onboarding program could be the remedy. But unfortunately, only 12% of people think their employer provides good onboarding, according to a Gallup study. So, what does effective onboarding look like?
When setting up your onboarding program, you should anticipate the challenges new staff members might face and walk them through your processes for overcoming them. For example, if you worry about staff members cleaning your cafe bathroom thoroughly, you should explain how you want it done ahead of time and step by step. And while this will take some trial, error, and refinement, it helps to overcome new employee frustrations and set them up for success.
Onboarding programs also inform new employees about your value system and standards of behavior. This is especially important if you’re working with minors, interns, or entry-level employees who may not have been exposed to workplace standards and values before.
The employee onboarding process is also the perfect opportunity to make sure new hires feel included by giving them a warm welcome and having more experienced employees help them settle in and guide them in their new responsibilities.
12. Prioritize diversity and inclusion
67% of job seekers believe a diverse workforce is vital when considering job offers. Creating diverse, equitable, and inclusive environments matters to employees. Why? Because it helps team members see you care about making your workplace an inclusive space for people from all backgrounds, including those that are underrepresented.
It’s also important to specify that your position is open to everyone in your job description, including seekers who are often overlooked, like people with disabilities, people who don’t speak English as a first language, and individuals who have been convicted of a crime.
Be sure to avoid any language that’s traditionally been used to filter out certain groups of people from the job application process. For example, avoid the requirement that employees have to be able to lift items that weigh over fifty pounds, particularly if you know their role won’t require it.
Need to find employees for the first time?
It’s important to get your timing right when recruiting job applicants for the first time, especially if you’re hiring for your small business. If you hire too soon, your cash flow will suffer. If you wait for too long, your work may start piling up and getting out of control.
Here’s how to know if it’s time to start hiring:
- You have work you can’t handle
- You need help with specific tasks or skills that none of your current employees are qualified to help with
- You have enough money to pay more employees
- You have new business opportunities on the horizon
- First things first: Learn the legal rules that employers must follow.
- Develop an ideal candidate profile based on job description, role specifics, and culture fit.
- Create your online job post by writing a job description that makes sense and emphasizing the job’s perks and benefits.
- Review applicants by going through their resumes and asking them applicant screening questions.
- Conduct a short phone call to become acquainted with candidates before inviting them for an in-person interview.
- Meet for an in-person interview and discuss topics like objectives, experience, qualifications, and culture fit.
- Contact applicant references to verify their qualifications and get more information about them as people.
- Send your top applicant a job offer as well as your onboarding documents and details about benefits and perks.
What to look for when vetting a new employee
Hiring new employees without vetting them can cost you time and money, particularly if you’re hiring a manager or someone in a leadership position. So, to be on the safe side, create a streamlined vetting process to ensure you’re choosing the right candidates. You can vet applicants by looking through their resumes and checking:
- If they meet role requirements
- If they pay attention to detail
- If they tailored their resume to fit the specific job post
During the interview, you can:
- Assess personality and work style traits
- Take note of communication skills
- Ask what your applicant knows about your company and why they want to work for you
- Get to know why they left their previous role
- What they’re passionate about and what motivates them
To help streamline the vetting process, use our free, downloadable interview scoring system.
5 questions employers must avoid during job interviews
1. How old are you?
The Age Discrimination in Employment (ADEA) act protects people older than 40 from age-related discrimination in the workplace due to a preference for younger workers.
2. Are you married?
As outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), questions about marital status are prohibited in order to prevent discrimination against women in the workplace.
3. What religion do you follow?
Questions about religion are sensitive and personal to every individual, and it’s illegal to discriminate against potential employees based on the religion they practice. Bringing it up in an interview in any way could put you at risk of a discrimination lawsuit.
4. What is your race? Are you an American citizen?
You can’t use immigration and citizenship status against a potential candidate during the recruitment process, so avoid discussing it at all costs.
As an employer, you have to file an Employment Eligibility Verification (I-9) Form for each employee on your payroll and submit documentation that proves employment and identity authorization, but you must wait until after you extend a job offer before asking a worker to fill out the form.
5. Improper criminal background checks
You aren’t allowed to ask about a prospective employee’s criminal record on their application, as doing so could show that you discriminate against employees without giving them a chance.
How to streamline finding and hiring employees
There’s a lot to consider when finding and hiring employees, and when you have a lean team — or a team of one — and are doing your own recruiting, the whole process can get overwhelming.
And if you’re a small business owner who’s looking to employ hourly workers, give Homebase hiring and onboarding a try.
With Homebase, you’ll be able to automate the entire hiring process, from the moment you connect with the perfect candidate to the moment you send them your onboarding packet.
Our platform lets you post your open positions on multiple job sites at once, but you can also track candidates, screen them, and arrange interviews, all from our online dashboard and mobile app. And once you find your ideal candidate, you can have them self-onboard before day one, which means they’ll use Homebase to review and e-sign onboarding paperwork and employee documents.
FAQs on how to find employees
How do I find employees fast for my business?
The simplest way to find employees fast is to have a list of qualified candidates who previously reached out looking for work or applied for a position in the past. Keeping track of these individuals can help save a lot of time and money down the road.
Asking current employees for referrals is another quick way to find potential new hires, and posting that you’re hiring on your social media platforms can also generate interest and fast responses.
What is the best place to find hourly employees?
The best place to find hourly employees is by having a strong online presence, and you can find employees online by using social media sites and posting job listings on popular recruitment sites. Some popular websites to find employees include ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and Craigslist. You can also consider posting on LinkedIn and other social media platforms that you are hiring.
And if you need to post a job listing on multiple sites at once, give Homebase! We let you post, track, screen, and communicate with potential candidates, all in one place.
Where can I find independent contractors to hire?
If you need to hire independent contractors, you can find, connect, and hire them using job posting sites like Upwork, Toptal, Fiverr, and Linkedin Profinder. You can also request to see their portfolio on these sites so that you get a better sense of the kind of work they do before you set up a contract with them.