How to find the right employees for your business

Tendency of hiring jobless relatives can end in premium tears

In Summary

• To avoid frustration and high staff turnover, do your recruitment professionally


Most owners of small and medium enterprises don’t give much thought to recruiting the right people to work for them. Sometimes, anyone walking in and asking for a job is employed immediately!

The usual style of recruiting workers in small businesses is to ask friends and relatives to send anyone they know who is looking for work. There’s also a tendency to give jobs to family members, something which makes sense at first glance. Why give jobs to strangers when there are people in your family who need a job? The lack of proper recruitment practices results in anguish for both the business owner and the employees.

Twelve years ago, when Maria Mghulo opened her grocery store, it seemed logical to have her unemployed niece as the shop attendant. The young girl had completed high school but was yet to find a stable job.

"My niece gave away too many things on credit," Maria recalls. "Customers took advantage of it and by the time I found out, very many items could not be accounted for." The experience with her niece discouraged Maria from employing anybody else.

She runs the shop herself but the disadvantage is that the shop remains closed whenever she has to travel. Maria admits she’s lost lots of potential business due to frequent closures.

The US Chamber of Commerce, the equivalent of Kenya’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry, provides five tips to help businesses find the right calibre of employees.

1. Don’t settle for the first available candidate: It’s tempting to want to save time by employing the first person recommended to you by an employee, a friend or a family member. Do this and you could end up with a person who’s not a good match for the position you are trying to fill.

2. Look for the right personality: It’s not enough to look at academic certificates and recommendation letters. Personality and soft skills are just as important. Soft skills are the ability to communicate and work harmoniously with fellow employees and customers. Enthusiasm and passion for your line of business are very important. You don’t want to end up with a sulky employee.

3. Shake up your interview process: Apart from the usual face to face session, discussing the candidate’s skills and experience, try showing them around the business and see their reaction. Does the candidate ask questions and show interest in what’s going on? How does this person, for example, interact with your existing workers?

4. Get creative with your recruitment marketing: Post on social media any job vacancies that arise in your business. The right candidate, especially the youth, could be lurking on social media.

5. Create an attractive job description: Apart from the usual list of duties and responsibilities, include what your business can do for the successful candidate.

These steps may seem a lot, especially for a small business, but getting the recruitment process wrong will result in frustration and a high turnover of employees. A bad employee can ruin your business’ reputation among clients.