Low Cost Hiring Solutions

Free Employment and Training Programs

A lot of businesses may not realize that in most communities, nonprofits are paid by the government to train job seekers and help them find jobs. These programs are free to employers, and each agency often has specific job types or industries on which it focuses. Some of the larger and more reliable job training programs include Goodwill Industries (Goodwill.org) and Seedco (seedco.org). For a comprehensive listing in New York, the New York City Employment and Training Coalition has a list of job training programs available at no cost to employers (nycetc.org). All these programs offer a range of training, including IT, printing, administrative, technical and more.

Local “One Stop Centers”

Local “One Stops” are federally funded walk-in centers where job seekers can find out about jobs and employers can meet potential new employees for free. Although each center serves many different types of job seekers, One Stop centers are best for businesses looking for entry-level and administrative employees. In New York State, visit labor.state.ny.us/workforcenypartners/osview.asp for your local office. In New Jersey, visit www.lwd.dol.state.nj.us/labor/wnjpin/wnjpin_index.html, and in Connecticut, http://www1.ctdol.state.ct.us/jcc/ctworks.asp.

Two and Four Year Colleges and Universities

Nearly every school has a career center for both enrolled students and alumni to get assistance finding employment. A good place to start is your local city or state university career offices, or a private university that has a specific major or area of concentration that is relevant to your industry. In New York, visit cuny.edu; in Connecticut, visit www.ctstateu.edu/; and in New Jersey, visit www.nj.gov/highereducation/colleges/schools_county.htm. Request student profiles if necessary to refine your search.

In addition, don’t forget to check out city and state technical training and trade schools and your local chamber of commerce. Websites such as Craigslist (craigslist.org) can also be good resources for résumés, but remember, they can be filled with people posting their résumés to any job that remotely looks like a match. With these websites, you can cultivate hundreds of prospects; just be sure to pay attention to the quality, not the quantity.

And once you’ve got a job applicant…

Scouting possible candidates for your open position is the easy part. Interviewing and deciding whom to hire is the tough part. How do you handle the interview? How do you make your choice?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for small businesses. But one thing is certain: Being consistent in your interviewing process gives you a better chance at getting consistent results. Here are some tips on interviewing and making a smart hiring decision:

Listen More, Talk Less

Most small business owners get so carried away talking about their company that they often forget to let the candidate do his share. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but also an easy one to avoid: Come prepared with a list of 10 to 15 questions, both industry- and non-industry-related, and stick to the list. If you find yourself talking too much, redirect the conversation and give the person an opportunity to answer. Conversely, if you see the candidate is struggling with a question, move on.

Don’t Only Go With Your Gut

If your gut is telling you one thing and your head is telling you another, go with the stronger of the two feelings. Never overlook missing or unverifiable credentials, poor computer skills or unexplained gaps in employment just because you “had a good feeling” about the candidate.

Test People on What They Say They Know

Just because someone’s résumé says “types 85 wpm” doesn’t mean that she’s not exaggerating. A worker whose skills are substandard can be very difficult, time-consuming and costly to get rid of. Ask prospective employees for verifiable writing samples, test their computer skills, and don’t be shy about asking them to interpret and decode sample documents relevant to your business.

Ask for Help

If you are not sure about whom to hire, call in backup: A partner or other trusted member of the staff can provide you with a second opinion and point out things you may have disregarded.

Never Overlook the Importance of Corporate Culture

If you don’t think your company has a culture of its own, think again. Each business has a unique way of doing things and of interacting with colleagues. Taking that into consideration when making a hiring decision could be priceless down the road.

Don’t Hire Under the Gun

If you feel pressured to make a decision, you’re likely to bring in a new hire that meets an immediate but not a long-term need. Don’t hire unless you are sure you have exhausted all avenues of recruitment and screening. In the end, the quick hire usually doesn’t work for the long term.

Hiring, especially for new business owners who’ve worked autonomously for a long time, can be very difficult. If you consider all of your options before you bring someone new on board, you’ll save money and likely make good choices that will affect your business for years to come.