indicatorPeople and Culture

Starting the hiring process to grow your business

Tips on how to find talent for your business from founders who’ve been through it.

By ATB Financial 22 October 2021 5 min read

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So your business is growing and you’re ready to hire. That’s a huge step—congrats!

As exciting as growth can be, we know it’s not always easy. If you’ve been struggling to find the right people, you’re not alone. A study by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 87% of HR professionals reported “few or no qualified applicants" for the positions they were trying to fill.

We know that stat can be scary, but don’t panic—we’ve got you covered with nine practical tips to help you attract the right talent to your growing business. We hosted an entire webinar on the topic, so if you’re a more of a visual learner, tune into the recorded session.

Here are some of the top takeaways from our webinar to support your hiring process:


1. Establish a talent pipeline

Kate McKenzie, manager of ATB X and founder of Worldviews Productions, recommends establishing a “talent pipeline”, or a pool of potential candidates you’ve engaged with who could fill future roles in your company. 

How do you do that? For her production company, she’s found it helpful to mentor young filmmakers and get involved with not-for-profits that support and engage diverse communities in creative industries. She recently joined the board of Start in Screen to stay tapped into current issues and support upcoming filmmakers who may be part of her talent pool in the future.

Charles Wong, founder and President of CarePros, shared that he’s connected with relevant university programs directly to help him fill his talent pipeline with future graduates.


2. Engage your full network to help you to find talent

When you start your search for that perfect person, you don’t need to go at it alone. Reach out to the people you know, through work and personally, to spread the word.

Wong found it helpful to establish an employee referral system to encourage his current staff to share job postings.

Kathy Leskow, founder of Confetti Sweets, shared that she found great success from hosting a “bring a friend to work day,” where staff were encouraged to bring a buddy to see what it was like to work at a bakery. 

Whether it’s your employees, friends or the rest of your network, you can find support as you share your job postings.


3. Build a positive reputation

Finding great talent starts way before you write up the job posting. According to LinkedIn, 75% of job seekers consider the brand before applying for a job. Start attracting the right people by building a reputation as a positive place to work.

Stuck on where to start? McKenzie recommends replying kindly to online reviews both bad and good. She also encourages companies to collect regular feedback from their team so they know what’s working and what isn’t. 


4. Use your engaged social media audience to help you find talent 

One strategy that’s worked well for Leskow is sharing job postings on social media. It’s a great way to find people who are passionate about your brand and share similar values. 


5. Share the fun 

According to LinkedIn’s research, 70% of the global workforce is made up of passive talent who aren’t actively job searching and the remaining 30% are active job seekers. That means that many of the people who will apply for your job are probably working somewhere else, so they need to be convinced of why they should make the jump to your company. 

How are you showing that your company is a great place to work? Leskow recommends a great place to start is to post team photos, especially when your team is doing fun and social activities, on your social media channels. That can give prospective employees a chance to see what your company culture is like. 


6. Re-think your ideal candidate 

Wong shared that he has had to re-think his ideal candidate, especially over the last year. We’re seeing a time of great resignation across North America and people are looking for a change. These resignations include healthy exits of people who realized that their roles aren’t a great fit, and it means people are applying for roles from more diverse work backgrounds than we’ve seen in the past. 

He recommends that business owners be open to re-thinking who their ideal candidate may be and explore opportunities to embrace talent from unexpected backgrounds who share the company’s values and goals.  


7. Create interview questions that reflect key values 

When asked how she makes sure candidates are a good match for her company, Leskow shared that she often asks interviewees to share a joke. 

Their joke, she notes, often tells her a lot more about them and reveals their sense of humour. Even if they don’t have a joke, she can find a good culture fit if they laugh at themselves for not having one. 

While humour may not be your company’s thing, weaving your unique values into your interview questions helps you figure out if your candidates are a good culture fit.


8. Mental health matters

Stress is high, in the workplace and in culture. With so many demands and pressures facing your future employees, Wong emphasized the need for mental health programs. It’s not only a key piece in attracting new talent, but in supporting current staff. 

His team has increased employee access to counselling and psychology, and has sent care packages to those facing illness. Since his employees sometimes need to deal with difficult situations his leadership team is committed to connecting with these employees individually to debrief, provide support and make sure they know they’re appreciated. 


9. Retain current talent

Sometimes the best way to face a talent gap is to develop the talent you already have. McKenzie recommends providing professional development opportunities to your staff so they can develop the skills they’ll need to advance. 

Leskow often encourages staff who are taking university courses to apply those learnings at work. For example, if someone is studying business management or administration, she asks them to sit in on interviews or help her prepare documents. This gives them a chance to try out different roles.

She was able to hire her first sales manager after watching one of her employees show a natural talent for relationship building with key vendors.

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