Category Archives: Hiring & Firing

How Your Small Business Can Attract & Retain Top Talent, Part 3

In part two of this series, we took a look at some of the employment law issues that you need to consider before you make a hire. In this last installment, we’ll review some of the ways to recognize your top talent so you can work as hard to retain them as they work to help you grow your small business.

Chances are if you attract the best and brightest employees – and retain them – that you won’t have to worry about the types of legal liabilities we discussed in part two. So before the interview process even begins, make sure you are pulling from a healthy crop of potential candidates. You might try saving a manila resume folder full of candidates that are referred to from various sources. This stamp of approval cuts a lot of the dross out of the running.

“The mistake most employers make is plopping an ad in the help wanted section of the newspaper. The problem with that is you are assuming the best person is out there looking in the newspaper,” says Cathy Fyock, author of Hiring Source Book: A Collection of Practical Examples.

“Most recruitment activities don’t focus on the place where the best candidates are. Third party recruiters that make the big bucks call businesses that are similar in nature and ask for recommendations. The idea is to find candidates that closely match your profile.”

Check out this video on retaining top talent:

How Your Small Business Can Attract & Retain Top Talent, Part 2

In this first part of this series, we discussed the importance of interviewing and background checks in the quest to attract and retain top talent. In part two, we’ll take a look at some of the employment law issues that you need to consider before you make a hire.

From the Family Medical Leave Act to overtime exemption policies, there is a minefield of employment laws waiting to trap unsuspecting operators in today’s litigious environment.

A survey by the Chubb Group of Insurance companies found that 26 percent of privately-owned companies have been sued by an employee or former employee in the past few years. Employees at 22 percent of the companies have filed a discrimination or harassment complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or state agencies. What’s worse, the survey estimates it costs more than $100,000 to settle an employee lawsuit.

How do you protect yourself?

“Make sure you are hiring the right person up front,” says Cathy Fyock, author of Hiring Source Book: A Collection of Practical Examples. “You can’t ask someone have they ever made legal claims against their organization or filed a workers’ comp claim, but you can establish what your culture is and make it very clear what are your expectations when you are dong the interview so that you are picking people who really do match the culture. Asking questions that will reveal their interpersonal skills and how they treat people will help.”

Of course, it’s not always a manager treating an employee or customer poorly. It could be a direct accusation against the owner’s treatment of the manager. Experts say these accusations often arise after an employee is terminated. Therefore, employment contracts and watertight documentation is the best defense.

Experts recommend a 90-day probation period for new hires. This gives the new employee adequate time to catch on to the system. If they can’t get with the program, then they are let go with no strings attached. Give underperforming employees a verbal warning, followed by a written warning before dropping the hammer.

Does Your Small Business Use Social Media to Recruit Employees?

What types of workers are most in demand today? Employers are hiring employees who are experienced in their businesses, team-oriented, customer-focused, have a track record for achieving the results they want, and work smart.

So says a new survey from global talent management firm OI Partners/FS&F.

Companies are more frequently using social media sites to recruit employees than last year, posting jobs on their company Web sites, obtaining referrals from current workers, and hiring people first as contract or temporary employees.

Here are some key takeaways from the survey, which offers insights for small business owners looking to hire and people looking for their next job:

  • 54 percent of employers have increased hiring
  • 42 percent are amore concerned about retaining their current employees than they were last year
  • 33% of employers say it is taking longer to bring people on board this year as companies delay hiring to make sure that their business justifies the additional staff and conduct more interviews to confirm they are selecting the best candidates.
  • Employers are interviewing candidates by phone more often, having teams of employees conduct interviews, and are making greater use of behavioral interviews.

“Employers are being more selective in the types of employees they want, and the methods they are using to find and interview them,” says Steve Ford, managing partner of OI Partners/FS&F. “Employers want workers who know their businesses and have accomplished goals similar to those they are seeking to achieve. Companies also are looking for people who work well together and realize how important customers are in this challenging economy.”

The survey also offers some job-search and interviewing advice for candidates.

“Employers in the survey are using LinkedIn and their company websites more than last year to find qualified workers, so these should have a higher place in a job search,” Ford says. “Also, practice for telephone interviews, being interviewed by several people at once, and responding to behavioral interviews with a variety of examples and situations from your experience to show you have the skills necessary to succeed.”

Career Change Is Inevitable. Are You Ready?

Is your career changing? If you are like the majority of people in the workforce today, the answer is probably yes. Companies thrive on change, and most change very quickly.

But how are you handling your change? Are you going with it, or hoping that you can ride it out? Or, are you wishing that your change would go away?

Change is not easy for most people. We like our routines and want to know what is coming our way. Change throws us off course. It makes us think and makes us do more work. Change forces us to look at ourselves and come up with a new plan or perspective. Change adds fear and uncertainty to our lives. The truth is we just don’t like it very much.

But change is inevitable in your career. Maybe it’s a new boss that you weren’t expecting. Or, a new job or career. Maybe your industry is going away or your company is closing. Maybe your skills are not needed anymore. Whatever the change, you have a decision to make. Either bury your head in the sand or tackle it head on.

So How Can You Effectively Handle Change In Your Career? Follow These 4 Steps Below.

1. Don’t Wait Until It’s Too Late

You know what I mean. You see change coming, but you believe it won’t affect you. So, you go along your merry way and then “bam” all of a sudden, you are hit in the face with change, and your world is turned upside down. Don’t let this happen to you. As soon as you see change, accept it. Expect it to affect you. Expect it to alter the way you see yourself and your career. This way you will take it seriously and do something about it.

2. Understand That You Have The Power To Make Your Change

When change is upon us, and we haven’t prepared for it, we feel powerless. We feel like something is happening to us, and forget that we have a say. If you put the power back into your hands, you will feel better. You will have hope. Hope gives you energy and the momentum to move past fear and uncertainty, and into something that will be better suited and less stressful for you.

3. Research Your Change

Most people fear change because it can happen quickly. But there is a way to slow change down and that’s through the power of research. Anticipating change early on will give you time to plan for it. Do your homework. Ask yourself what the change will mean to your career and what your choices are. Then, go online and get your answers. And what you can’t find online, get from people. Research makes your decisions easier and more powerful because you know what your options are, and you can act based on sound reasoning and judgment and not how you feel in the moment.

4. Make Your Change

There are times in life when you have to take a leap of faith. Once you have accepted that change is inevitable and you have done the legwork, it’s time to go for it and implement your change. Want a guarantee that it will work out or this is your last change? I can’t give you one. But I can tell you that your change will be easier to make when you ride the tide instead of going against it.

So, what do you say? You only have one life to live, so it might as well be a life you love!

Guest Author Deborah Brown-Volkman, PCC, is the President of Surpass Your Dreams, Inc. a successful career, life, and mentor coaching company that works with Senior Executives,  Vice Presidents, and Managers who are looking for new career opportunities or seek to become more productive  in their current role. She is the author of “Coach Yourself To A New Career”, “Don’t Blow It! The Right Words For The Right Job” and “How To Feel Great At Work Everyday.”  Deborah can be reached at

Need Help? Hire an Unpaid Summer Intern

I recently came across an article in Fox Business’ Small Business Center called “3 Reasons Why an Unpaid Intern Wants to Work for You.”

The gist of it is this: summer is upon us and summer interns are rip for the picking. So if you want to get in on some free help from June through August, Fox suggested three incentives you can offer college kids: a learning experience, the prospect of a job offer and a job to be proud of.

OK, but how do you go about finding an intern? That might be a bigger challenging than actually convincing them to hook up with your small business.

Well, other than calling your local colleges, which I would recommend, you can also put out some feelers on Web sites that specialize in connecting companies with interns.

Springwise scans the globe for the most promising business ventures, ideas and concepts that are ready for regional or international adaptation, expansion, partnering, investments or cooperation. Springwise bills itself as brain food for entrepreneurial minds.

There’s also a site called Enternships. Enternships promises ambitious and dynamic students and graduates with an opportunity to learn about business and enterprise through work placements in entrepreneurial and innovative environments, from start-ups to global venture funds around the world.

You might also want to check out Urban Interns. Urban Interns is an online marketplace that connects high-growth companies with talented candidates looking for internships, part-time jobs, freelance work and contract positions.

And remember, once you find potential candidates be sure to set your small business up as a learning experience, with the prospect of a job offer and a job to be proud of.

Here’s another take: Get your small business approved for college internships at a local college. Check out this video:

Small Businesses Benefit from ‘All in the Family’ Hiring

Who would you rather hire? Your brother in need or a complete stranger?

A Hiscox study answers the question for you. Well, sort of. The small-to mid-sized business insurer conducted a survey of 1,000 small business owners to track family hiring practices. The results: 21 percent employ a family member. Of that group, 43 percent cited the downturn as a reason for recruiting a relative.

Nearly a third (30 percent) of family-run businesses choose to employ a relative to help them find work and 11 percent say it was to help those who had been made redundant. But the benefits were hardly one-sided. A whopping 94% believe that a family hire benefits their businesses.

Let’s drill down into the advantages:

  • 57% say it came down to trust
  • 45% cite reliability as a benefit
  • 44% know their family members “will work hard”
  • 40% point to relevant experience
  • 16% say it creates a recognized family brand

“The silver lining of the tough financial climate has been the discovery of the ‘family talent pool’. The trend of SMEs turning to trusted family members who may be available and have the right experience has strengthened their businesses,” says John Heaney, an SME insurance expert at Hiscox.

With advantages, of course, come drawbacks:

43% say there is a danger associated with work-life balance
25% are concerned it will bring family politics into the business

“Understanding the risks to your business means that you can put strategies in place to ensure they don’t become a problem,” Heaney says. “For example, think about succession planning and set out a long term strategy so all employees within your company are clear on their role and expectations for the future.”

The conclusion of the matter?

Grant Gordon, director General of the Institute for Family Business, says family firms are a proven breeding ground for entrepreneurship and working in a family business encourages greater resourcefulness as well as teaching family members valuable lessons.

“Overall the family business sector has weathered the recession well and fostering a spirit of entrepreneurship in family members should ensure these firms remain competitive as we emerge from the downturn,” Gordon says.

Check out this video on how to hire top performers.