How To Make Great Hiring Decisions For Your Small Business

Nathalie jones valiant finance

Nathalie Jones

Thursday, 06 October 2016

Want to expand your team but don't know where to start? We’ve put together a guide for hiring great staff, complete with tips and tricks from industry leaders.

Know the law

There are laws which give employees rights including minimum wages, payslips, leave and notice of termination. You also need to know about tax, superannuation and workplace health and safety.

Employers need to be across the key aspects that govern employment law:

  • The National Employment Standards;
  • Awards and agreements;
  • Anti-discrimination;
  • Record-keeping and payslips;
  • Taxation and superannuation; and
  • Workplace health and safety.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has jurisdiction over this area. The Fair Work Australia website has fantastic resources which business owners can access here.

The hiring process

Matching the right employee to the right job specification can be difficult. Business owners should define the role they want to fill, and assess the current and future needs of the business.

Think about the skill set needed for the immediate hire and whether the nature of the role will shift as your business matures. Have you articulated what you want the employee to do in the next three, six and twelve months? It may even be worth offering training for the right candidate.

Lachlan Heussler, Managing Director at Spotcap Australia, says:

“Before filling a role you need to think critically about the problem you want to solve because that will ultimately determine what skill-set is required."

You may want to jump online and have a look at the roles that other organisations are advertising. How have they described the position? Have they offered clarity around the skills required? What level of responsibility do they want the employee to take on?

By researching other job advertisements and position descriptions, business owners can see where they sit in the market in terms of job requirements, and get an idea of how to optimise their postings. You may also come across new skill-set trends that are hitting the job market.

Make sure you’ve got plenty of information on your website and social media channels, because job candidates will also be making decisions about whether they want to work for your business. When job-seekers get a positive impression of your brand, and you convey that you’re an exciting small business that is an enviable place to work, it will be more difficult for them to resist submitting an application.

Attract the right people

It is critically important to make sure that the right people hear about the job opportunity. Remember: you always want to be attracting the best and brightest talent to your team.

There are many ways to let the market know that you’re hiring:

  • Work with a specialised recruiter, who can access their own databases and connections;
  • Tap into your own personal network through the use of social media, on platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook;
  • Ask customers or suppliers for introductions and recommendations;
  • Advertise on job sites such as seek.com.au; and
  • Highlight role opportunities on your website.

Many organisations are using content to broaden their search for talented applicants. Here’s a fantastic case study from one company that used content to supplement their hiring process.

Optimise your shortlist

Shortlist job applicants whose skills and experience best match the role, and ask interview questions that focus on the skills and abilities needed for the role.

Ask the interviewees to articulate how they’ve completed tasks in their previous job, detailing the approach they took. This will help you form an impression of the approach they take to their work. What were their daily responsibilities? What structures did they put in place to ensure they completed these tasks? How did they measure the work they had done?

Prepare your questions in advance and be consistent when asking them to prospective employees. A consistent approach will allow you to benchmark each candidate across each of your questions.

Test for soft skills and cultural fit

The term 'soft skills' relates to personal attributes that enable someone to interact effectively with their colleagues. Soft skills and cultural fit are key factors when attracting and maintaining employees.

Peter Esho, CEO, Esho Property Group, says:

“For me, the personality has to be a good fit. Skills can often be taught, but a driven attitude is the key. The three components I uncover in an interview are attitude, work ethic and eye for detail.”

The interview process can also uncover other intangibles such as speed of response, enthusiasm, and thoughtfulness. Depending on the role, you may choose to spend more time developing questions to test for soft skills and cultural fit.

Lachlan Heussler says:

“I use an interview to gauge the things you can’t list on a piece of paper, such as personality, enthusiasm and responsiveness. I generally ask at least one question to judge a candidate’s ability to think on their feet and always ask myself if I would want to hang out with this person after work.”

Make an offer

Once you’ve chosen someone, contact them to offer them the job. It’s best to follow this up in writing with a letter of offer as soon as you’ve made your decision.

By presenting offers and rejections early, you secure top talent for your business and allow the other candidates to explore their options. If the candidate is employed, making them a prompt offer will ensure that they can give notice to their current employer sooner.

The letter should be reasonably detailed, including information about:

  • Formal contract offer;
  • Commencement date and the location of employment;
  • Position (i.e. Job Title);
  • Terms of employment including remuneration;
  • Salary payment schedule;
  • Superannuation;
  • Leave entitlements;
  • Hours of work;
  • Termination clause and outline;
  • Any policies; and
  • All legal notices including applicable legislation.

How will the candidate notify you that they’ve accepted the offer? Give them instructions on how to formalise their acceptance.

If you are looking at putting together a letter of offer for the first time, a helpful template can be found on the Business Victoria website.

Start on the right foot

It is always worth investing the time in a thorough induction in order to get the most from your new employee. It will also ensure that the employee feels welcomed, well-informed, and equipped to do their job.

Emily Wilson, Managing Partner at FutureYou Executive Recruitment, says:

"First impressions really are lasting impressions when it comes to an employee’s first experiences with your organisation. The best companies know that having a thoughtful onboarding program is what will give them the best chance of having an engaged and connected employee from day one."

Here are Emily’s four crucial factors when onboarding new employees:

Get involved

Onboarding is best led by an employee’s immediate manager. Outsourcing the onboarding process is a wasted opportunity to build the groundwork for a strong working relationship.

Lead with vision, values and culture

Onboarding - when done right - can be a fantastic introduction to a company’s vision, values and culture, which are fundamental to a new employee’s relationship with both an organisation and its people. While the practical side is necessary, our clients tell us that taking a culture-first approach pays dividends over the long-term.

Be social

Incorporate a social gathering during the employee’s first week – even if it’s just for a sandwich at the local coffee shop. It helps them understand the motivations of the team and its culture, so they can start to find where they fit and what ideas they can bring to the table.

Regular check-ins

Regularly checking in is vital for staying on track with employee onboarding. An employee’s manager should make a point of checking in at the end of the first day, week, month and so on.

At the end of the first week, ask them how they’re feeling, what they have learnt, what else they need to know and if they are coming back next week. If they are, it won’t be because they were shown where the coffee machine is, but because they have made strong connections.

Have a productive workplace

Regularly meet with your new employee to set goals, expectations and training requirements.

Alex Molloy, CEO and Co-Founder at Valiant Finance, says:

“The entire workplace landscape has changed. No longer are people being hired for jobs that will last a lifetime, and the expectations that staff have of their employer are changing. For brand new employees, we find it beneficial to implement a regular catch-up to sense check opportunities, roadblocks, and provide positive reinforcement on the daily work plan.”

Be mindful of encouraging employees for positive behaviours and results. Mutual encouragement and a pat on the back can go a long way in settling employees into their role and fosters a positive working environment.

Valiant Finance is Australia's trusted business loan marketplace with over 50 loan options. Give us a call us on 1300 780 568 to find and match to your best fitting business loan.


Nat is the Communications Manager at Valiant Finance. She has a double degree in Journalism and Law, and a background in the fintech space, hailing from Asia's largest fintech hub, Stone & Chalk.

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