I was really encouraged to read that our neighbours in Bridgend, Sony UK Technology Centre and CGI, are looking to create job opportunities for over 100 people.
And it would seem that they are not alone. Many SME owners are feeling optimistic about growing their businesses this year and taking on more staff.
While great news, a challenge that comes with this is finding the right people to share your vision and passion.
Getting recruitment right allows you to accelerate growth plans, while getting it wrong is costly, stressful and time-consuming to manage.
Having grown SuperStars from 170 to 240 staff in the past six months, I know how tricky it can be.
But how do you ensure people are right for your business?
It’s important from the offset to have a clear vision for the future of your business as it will help you define your recruitment needs and the type of person you need to bring onboard to achieve that vision. The key is to attract someone whose personal values are aligned to your organisation’s values.
A common mistake is not defining in detail what type of person you are looking for. Spend time fleshing out the details in terms of skills and experience needed, as well as attitude and personality.
Some businesses place more importance on attitude over skills, taking the view that skills can be learned but personality can’t be trained.
For us, while skills are, of course, important, we take into consideration the ‘whole person’ – what they have done in their life, in school or beyond, to make a difference and have an impact? Why did they choose one path versus another? We want to understand their emotional drive, passions and, thought-processes, as that’s what ultimately makes them unique and who they are.
Once you have a good idea of what you’re looking for, it’s time to find them. While recruitment agencies have their place, the growth of social media has meant that you can now use your network to help fill a role. A tweet or LinkedIn post is a good starting point and ask business associates for recommendations.
Partnerships with industry bodies or universities can also help you tap into a pool of top talent. The majority of our subject specialists come to us straight from university. For us, it is crucial that we employ the brightest graduates to deliver our specialist services so we have partnered with Wales’ leading universities in order to gain access to a talent pool.
When you have your pile of potential candidates, put in a place a number of filters to weed out those that are unsuitable. Cross match against your job description to check if candidates make your criteria and rather than taking them straight to a face-to-face interview, do a first interview over the phone. You can waste a huge amount of time seeing people who aren’t really that good, so do some remote testing.
The process for interviewing applicants is also very important as comparing people is inherently difficult. Try and make the process consistent by keeping to the same format, and same open-ended questions, wherever possible.
Try to bring in the company’s core values and culture into the interview process as you want people who believe in your product, vision, and values because these are the employees who will be intrinsically motivated to work at full capacity towards your organisation’s objectives.
Remember anyone can talk a good game in interview, but the proof in the pudding is the capability to deliver the tasks of the role. To combat this, we do assessment centres where we get the candidates to do tasks that they would do once in the role. Another key tool we use is psychometric testing. These are freakishly accurate and help you to tease out any potential candidate flaws.
Building a high-performing team is a rewarding process and a tangible measure of success. While time consuming, a thorough recruitment process is the best time investment you can make.
But even with the most rigorous recruitment process, statistics show that you still only get it right 70% of the time so it’s always crucial that you explain to the successful candidate that the real interview is how they perform in their probationary period.
James Taylor is founder and managing director of SuperStars (www.super-stars.org.uk) and chair of the Welsh Government’s Entrepreneurship Panel for Wales. Follow him on twitter @jamestaylor_SS