The recruitment and selection process is often a headache-inducing flurry of sorting through stacks of resumes, comparing candidates and conducting what seem like endless interviews, only to have employees quit just when they're beginning to make valuable contributions. If even large companies — with human resources (HR) professionals trained in HR theories and practices — have difficulty hiring and keeping good employees, what hope does a small business have? Lots, as it turns out, as long as you apply the strategies and theories of recruitment others have learned.

Understanding the Recruitment Process

Think about the best places to find top talent for the job you need to fill. Many job seekers look at online sites including LinkedIn and Facebook and general employment sites like and, so don't overlook these. Job hunters also look at sites specific to their jobs and industries, such as:

  • for accountants and finance employees.
  • for reporters and editors.
  • for those in the construction industry ranging from HVAC to electricians.

Network. Ask associates whose ideas you respect where they post ads for the jobs you need to fill. Let current employees in all job categories know you're looking for good prospects for those jobs. A good incentive is to offer a "referral reward" to employees who refer a candidate you ultimately hire.

Consult your team. Before writing your ad, talk with team members about what you should look for, in both attributes and experience, for these particular jobs. If you don't have other employees in similar jobs, ask other business owners what they look for.

Making the Right Selections

Using the attributes and experience you and your team decided were most important, go through resumes looking for:

Experience first. Discard those who have too few years (or too many if you're looking for entry-level candidates). Pass up those who have had many jobs in a few years, as they aren't likely to stay long. Then read the descriptions of skills and accomplishments and pull out all those that seem like a good fit.

Attributes second. Note how the candidates you selected describe themselves, including in their cover letters, and how they present themselves. If you're looking for a secretary, for example, discard the ones that have any typos. If creativity is important, look for unusual cover letters that hold your attention and resumes written in a lively style.

Look for longevity. Along with candidates' time spent at previous jobs, look for those who make commitments, whether to sports teams, volunteering or mentoring. Staying through ups and downs when they could easily quit shows perseverance.

Choose candidates. Choose the top candidates to interview. Ideally, you'll interview all of your top candidates, but more than eight to 10 is probably too many to interview. Consider asking another team member or trusted associate to choose those they would interview and compare choices.

Conduct interviews. Devise interview questions that are meaningful to the job. Instead of, "where do you see yourself in five years" ask them to describe a frustrating time or problem in their job and how they solved it.

Keeping Top Talent on Board

With job-hopping so common, it isn't good enough to find and hire the right employees; you need to also find ways to retain them. Of course, few employees stay forever, but the goal is to keep the best ones happy so they'll want to stay and continue to contribute as they learn and grow. Tips for keeping top employees include:

Provide great benefits. Good health insurance is a big perk, but giving paid time off beyond the norm really sets your company apart. Add flexible schedules, remote working when possible and financial bonuses for good work or going the extra mile.

Focus on learning. Investing in training and learning new skills tells employees you value them enough to see them grow, and helps keep them motivated and engaged. Offer programs in-house and tuition reimbursement for other educational opportunities.

Communicate continuously. Talk with employees often so you know how they feel about their work and the company. Ask for their ideas and consider them seriously. Help them solve problems or concerns so they feel satisfied, fulfilled and motivated.