Recruitment Challenges For Smes

Issue 35

SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy but, despite accounting for 99.3% of the private sector and providing 60% of all employment, they often struggle to recruit the very best people in to their business.

Often in the early stages of growth, SMEs don’t have an in-house HR function, which makes the hiring process all the more difficult. This is where the services of recruitment experts come in, who offer specialist support, tailored to help organisations that operate across niche sectors.

In the North East, we are home to many fastgrowing recruitment firms, which are supporting the region’s many small and medium sized businesses, not to mention large companies and multinationals.

“As SME’s grow they don’t always have an understanding of the nuances between the various specialist recruitment markets, which means that when they are looking for the best people in an unfamiliar field, it can be very difficult to find and attract them,” says Bryony Gibson, Bryony Gibson Consulting.

Andrew Mackay, Coleman James, highlights cost as the biggest barrier for SME’s looking to compete regionally, nationally or internationally: “Reluctance to invest can be detrimental as forming a partnership with a niche recruiter will save both time and money in the long run, and deliver candidates that give SMEs a competitive edge. In addition, the recruitment process should be thorough, consistent and timely. Procrastination and lack of ability to make quick decisions often means SMEs lose out because exceptional talent doesn’t hang around.”

Mark Ions, Ions Talent Partners, acknowledges the need for effective strategic planning when it comes to recruitment: “Talent Management is one of the biggest headaches for ambitious companies across the North East. Regardless of size, understanding where the talent is within your business is paramount to both current and future recruitment strategies.”

David Blair, BMC Recruitment Group, places the company’s values at the heart of an effective recruitment model: “Stick rigidly to what you believe good looks like, as it will eventually lead to great. For every entrepreneur that tells you he trusts his gut, there will be 99 who tell you they trust process more.”

However, Steven Rawlingson, Samuel Knight International, believes the challenges facing SMEs isn’t about the processes in place, it is the shift in industry, particularly across the energy and rail sectors: “The average age within this industry is around 50 years old, and most people tend to retire at around 50 to 55. We are now seeing the impact of this shift change across various STEM sectors.”

Michaela Reaney, Gradvert, also stresses the importance of having a “strong skills pipeline” for businesses, while acknowledging that employers need to start off their recruitment strategies by analysing “what’s needed to attract, develop and retain talent.”

Maureen Brown, Sullivan Brown, suggests staying up-to-date with the correct interview techniques is vital to hiring the right person, and regular training with hiring managers is essential. Conducting exit interviews is also crucial as “the insight can be used to help you attract the right people.”

Meanwhile, Duo Global Consulting’s Laura Weaving cites the importance of building relationships with potential candidates: “In order to recruit the highest quality people it is important to build relationships with prospective employees ahead of time, so when roles arise, you already have established relationships for quicker recruitment into the business.”

Communication is key to effective recruitment, according to James Blackwell, Ronald James Group: “You must keep adding value to the customer. The only way this can be achieved is by listening to what they really want and finding a way to give it to them. Regardless of your industry, giving more value than you charge in terms of a fee is one of the most important lessons I have learnt.”

It’s estimated that the cost of a bad hire is around 15x their base salary, so without the luxury of large budgets and precious time to repeat the process if the wrong hire is made, the importance of recruiting well for SMEs simply can’t be underestimated.

Sign-up to our newsletter

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.