Can’t get the staff? Part One

Hiring reliable, motivated staff to add to your success is becoming harder for employers.   Employment Legislation, Data Protection Laws and EU Directives have all created a web in which the average small business owner can easily feel trapped and ensnared.  I have trained hundreds of managers to find their way through, and these are some of the ideas I can offer to help you.


IT’S NOT ALL DOOM AND GLOOM.  In this article I will show you how you can shift the odds in your favour without spending a fortune on recruitment advertising.   This is part one of a series, so look out for updates or contact me for more details.


1 – Designing and advertising the job

Most managers and business owners have been stuck at some point in our careers with the employee from hell, a difficult person who brings havoc to work with them.  They take up time, they can sabotage work (and cost you money), and they can affect team morale, dragging their performance down and causing good staff to get fed up and leave.  


Some bosses have classified their problem people and among the worst are:

  • Moaners – if you want to give great customer service how will this person help?
  • Liars – can you trust them with your property?
  • Bullies – they don’t just scare the staff: customers will run a mile from them.  Sometimes the boss is even scared
  • Addicts – drink, drugs, gambling – take your pick.  Whatever their weakness, they are Trouble with a capital T
  • Lovers – they use the workplace as a free dating agency.  It can be fine while romance is blossoming but when the honeymoon’s over the fallout will spill over at work, sometimes with violent results
  • Hypochondriacs – never there when you need them
  • Gossips – can cause backbiting in the most harmonious team.  Good people will get tired of them and leave.


Do these ring any bells?  Are you worried about employing the next member of staff?  Well read on and you will find out what you can do……


There are lots of things you can do to improve the odds of getting an effective person to fill your next vacancy.  A sound job specification is particularly important, and that’s not just HR-speak. It will help avoid complaints of discrimination and helps you select suitable people who can develop into valuable assets for the organisation rather than difficult employees.  Write a short job specification – this describes the skills and experience needed to do the job well. Write this up for the job and you will have a set of requirements against which you can filter the applications and decide who to interview. You can include anything that relates to the job – for example Experience, Training, Special Knowledge, Adaptability, Disposition.  


For example:  you need someone to produce client contracts using Word and Excel.  Sounds simple? Fine: let’s ask candidates to do that in a short test, using a simple draft as a starting point.  Now we start to find out who can walk their talk. And on the subject of walking, if that’s part of the job, put it in the specification, then they can’t say they didn’t expect to be on their feet all day!


You can recruit without spending a fortune.  Before you run into the arms of a recruitment agency, try and compare notes with another local employer.  Has anyone found a really good, loyal agency? If so, grab them! Lots of companies use employment agencies to do the work for them, with varying results. They can charge a month’s salary for finding the employee, and once they place them with you they can be ready to tempt them away with the next vacancy – and there’s often nothing you can do about this!


So how do you find the right person?  Just be practical – put a small ad in the right advertising medium: often one of the local papers.  But also offer it to the local Jobcentre, and tell all your staff that the job is open. There’s no reason not to interview a friend or relative of an existing member of staff, if they meet the basic job requirements.   Are there any other free outlets to advertise the job? Set a closing date and interview date(s) when you advertise. This lets the applicant know when they might be asked to an interview, and can save a lot of time in dealing with enquiries.  


So you’ve designed a clear, simple job spec, you’ve told everyone that you’re looking for someone good, and now just wait for that flood of applicants to beat a path to your door.  




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