Canada's business magazine for traditional natural health retailers

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Hiring new staff: do your best to find the best

Hiring new staff:  do your best to find the best

At my store, we have been very fortunate in more ways than one. We have enjoyed being a small, family-owned and operated business for a long time. Outside of one part-time employee who has been with us for 10 years, we have not had to work with anyone other than immediate family in four years. We also haven’t hired anyone new in over seven years. In the retail world, I think this is quite abnormal and even unheard of. However, this all came to a crashing halt this past spring. We were given a year of notice, but it was still not enough. My brother decided to move on, and we were faced with only one option. We had to hire new staff.

We feared this situation for years. We were afraid of so many things. Afraid of not finding someone with knowledge; someone we could trust; someone who could fit in with the rest of us; someone that we all liked, that our customers would like. It was all so overwhelming and stress-inducing. I can honestly say that I worried about how this was going to work out for a very long time, to the point of losing sleep.  I’m happy to report that my fears were unfounded and inevitably relieved, but I think this is because we went the extra mile, to find the best result.

I believe that we took a very thorough approach to the hiring process. We had in our heads that we wanted to find the best, so that meant that we needed to do our homework and cover all of our bases. If we were looking to hire the best, then we had to be the best in terms of our hiring process and our professionalism. While we are a small business, used to a casual operation, we wanted this to be different. It was time for us to take things to the next level. We did not have the luxury of an HR department doing the hiring for us. This was up to us to pull it together.

So, what did we do? Well, the first step was to create a job ad, right? Yes and no. Obviously we needed a proper job ad, but how do you create a job ad? Well, the real first step is to make a job description. How do you know what to ask for in a job ad without having a laid out list of duties and responsibilities that the future employee will be required to perform? So, I made a job description. I used Google and some of my old textbooks from university and after some time, I had our job description. Once that was done, I moved on to the job ad. I cut and pasted the job description into the ad, added in the information such as start date, expected hours to be filled, needed experience, and then information about our store. I also explained the type of individual that we were looking for: someone interested in health and who lived a healthy lifestyle; someone easy going, trustworthy and good with people; and someone that would hopefully fit in with the rest of us.

The next step was to post the ad – again, something we had never done. I started with online job websites. It turns out, most of them are not free. I made the decision to first seek out only free pathways. I posted our ad on our store Facebook page, as well as at the local YMCA job board. I printed it and brought it to our mall office to post on their website and the mall bulletin board. Fortunately, we have a great relationship with our local radio station after years of advertising, and they were incredibly helpful by offering to advertise our job posting for us for a week, free of charge.

In our ad, I had set a closing date. We sat back and waited for this closing date to arrive, and then once it had, took all the resumes and sorted them into yes, maybe and no. Now it was time to host our interviews.

We chose six people to invite for interviews. In the interest of adhering to the professional hiring process we had initiated, I prepared a list of 10 questions to ask each applicant. We scheduled each person for a 30-minute interview. One person asked questions, another took notes. After each interview, we had a three minute chat to share our thoughts with each other.

In the end, we had a very tough decision to make. We had decided to hire two people, but couldn’t decide which two. Unbelievably, we had found more than one person that we liked. Turns out our fears of not finding anyone at all were of no point. We finally made our decisions, offered the positions and hired not two, but three brand new staff members. In the interest of ultimate flexibility, three was better than two.

I respect that people don’t always have the time to devote to hiring new staff. We all want it to be quick and easy. We also all want to hire staff that fit in with our organization and who work well. Hanging a simple “help wanted” sign in the window is not enough. I strongly urge you to take the time to do the extra work to get the best hire. Really sit down and think about who you ultimately want to hire and what your expectations are. Be honest with yourself and with the person you’re hiring.

Give it your best effort

I wanted to share this experience in the hopes that it could help someone else who is feeling apprehensive about hiring new staff, or unsure of where to begin. I believe that you get out what you put in, so that’s why I believe that offering our best effort was the only option for this endeavor. By no means am I an expert, but I can say that we are very pleased with the process we took and the result we found. I truly can say, it is going tremendously well and we couldn’t be happier. Having new people around with similar interests but different experiences is refreshing!

Hiring new staff is a part of any business, but if you take the time to do it right, I hope that you too will be successful. It is not something that should be feared, but rather an experience to grow, change and enjoy!


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