Post-pandemic hiring tips for small businesses

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Lockdowns. Social distancing. Fever checks. Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). At some point, the pandemic of 2020 will move on; in some locations it already has eased. As the economy recovers, small business owners will begin addressing how, when, and in what form to re-start. Maybe you’ve already started down that road. Or maybe you’re in a business that never really closed down.

For most, it’s a time for identifying the long-term lessons learned, assessing damage, rebuilding relationships, resupplying supply chains, reimagining everything that shapes your business. More immediately, it’s a time for planning to staff back up—at a pace that’s flexible as you confront the multiple challenges of re-starting.

If you had employees or contractors, identify which people you need to call back first. Maybe it was your admin, a key sales person or customer service rep. Filter this process through the lens of your current and projected revenue. You only want to focus on re-hiring the people you can reasonably afford.

If reopening seems imminent, you might want to reach out to some of your former staff members—if you haven’t already—and see if they’re healthy, available and up for returning. A lot has changed since the spring, and it would be a mistake to assume you can re-assemble your entire team as if nothing had happened.

By approaching the project methodically, you should net out with a list of former workers you can count on and a rough idea of when you can bring them back in to your company. You’ll also have a list of vacancies to fill. As you re-start your business and rebuild your team, these tips can help you bring in ideal candidates:

Consider contractors. Taking on an employee, full- or even part-time, is a commitment. Relying on freelancers gives you flexibility to see if there’s a fit. You and your contractor can “try before you buy,” without many of the constraints of employment. If you use an agency, you can even try out multiple candidates without searching for them individually. Caveat: If you end up hiring a contractor from an agency, do so only through the agency.
Know your interview no-nos. Before interviewing candidates, make sure you know ¬¬¬¬what lines of questions are off-limits. Employment law protects workers from questions (or even comments) that touch on such issues as age, marital status, religion, race and sexual orientation/identity. Generally, the more you can confine the interview to job-related topics, the better. Also be aware of local and state laws. For example, in some locations you can’t ask about someone’s arrest record—though you can do a public-records check of someone’s criminal history.
Create or revisit job descriptions. They help you and the worker stay focused on established priorities. They clarify your expectations and create a performance baseline that can help both parties in future salary negotiations and performance reviews. Consider what educational requirements, if any, should attach to each job.
Ask for recommendations. Consult with your existing staff and other associates to see if they can recommend candidates. You may even have a trusted competitor who might be willing to steer a strong candidate your way.
Encourage a conversation. Avoid yes-no questions during an interview. Those can be covered on your application. The interview should be more of a dialog. Keep your questions disciplined and open-ended; listen and observe closely while the candidate responds. You should both be asking follow-up questions. Be sure to encourage the interviewee to initiate questions of their own. Do they lead with queries about salary and benefits? Or more substantive questions about your company and its growth?
Seek people with initiative. Since it’s a rebuilding process, people who can adapt will be in high demand. Look for candidates who can go with the flow and figure things out on their own. These days, specialists who perform one narrow task really well are less valuable than generalists who can think on their feet.

As your business recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic, don’t hesitate to contact the small business specialists at Pango Financial. We can walk you through your financing options and connect you with the capital you need, so you can come back stronger than ever. Call 1-855-WHY-PANGO (1-855-949-7264).