Small Business Hiring Amid a Pandemic

Jun 03, 2020


 Let's face it, even if we don't have the intention to hire in our small businesses, we may be left with no choice. Employees laid off during the stay-at-home orders may not want to come back. They might have found work elsewhere, they may have decided to stay home with the kids, or they may just not want to work for you anymore. This pandemic has caused most of us to take a deep look into what we want and planning for the future.

You are potentially left with positions you need to replace, new skillsets that have come to light since business has changed, or maybe your industry is one of the ones that is growing and thriving right now. No matter what it is, you are being lead to the market to meet a demand in your business. Whether you are experienced or need some guidance and organization in this area, this information will help you be more effective in finding the right fit, not just a warm body.

There are three components to a successful recruiting strategy are:

  • Preparation
  • Marketing
  • Interviewing

 We will break each step down for you so you can stop throwing spaghetti at the wall and running endlessly in the recruiting hamster wheel.

Without preparation, I hate to say, you are doomed. Seriously, put the spaghetti back in the fridge because preparation will save you precious time (which you don’t have much of #amiright), frustration and a boatload of money.

We are going to assume here that you have established a needs analysis to fill a specific role in your business, and created a cost analysis (salary, benefits, training, equipment etc...) required to fill it that aligns with your bank account balance. If not, this is a crucial step we walk our HR Branches members through step-by-step.

Check out our membership pricing here: HR Branches Store


Essential Behaviors

Determine what essential behaviors that are required to be successful in this position. Not only that, but the essential behaviors to fulfill the needs of your business and moving it forward. This is a time to be calculated, you can flush a lot of PPP funds or regular cash down the toilet by trying to put a warm butt in the seat. If you knew you would be stuck with an employee for the next 5 years without any way of replacing them, would you take this step to the next level?

What kind of values does this individual need to have? Should they be passionate about serving others? Do they need to be adaptive and innovative? Do they need to be reliable and dependable? Think through this carefully.

You will also want to determine if you can hire for fit and values, and teach the skills and details. How many times have you hired someone that looked great on paper, maybe they even wowed you in the interview, only to regret your decision a few months (if you’re lucky) down the road? Align the values needed for your company and the position, THEN look for skills and qualifications – if possible.

I know, no one has time to teach the skills, but if you look back on the last year, 5 years, 10 years…do you wish you had taken the time to train your employees more strategically? How would that have improved your operations? What mistakes could have been avoided?

Where are they?

Now you need to find out how you are going to get in front of your ideal candidates. A lot of people are still at home. GOOD quality candidates victim to bad circumstance. Good news for you, they are available AND job searching!

Where do they look for jobs? Are they usually actively seeking openings or will you need to recruit the passive candidate of your dreams that doesn’t know how awesome you are as an employer? Does this sound similar to attracting your ideal customers and audience? DING DING DING It should! Talk to your employees and reverse engineer where you would have found them. Is it on social media, Ziprecruiter, LinkedIn, the local coffee shop? That is where you need to post your job opening or find a way to get in front of them. We’ll talk more about this in the next step, marketing your position.

Interview questions

Take the time now to think of some interview questions that will give you what you need to know. Don’t just google “Best Interview Questions” 20 minutes before your first interview and ask them about strengths and weaknesses. Be intentional and purposeful with the questions you ask. We will talk more about this in the last step of your strategy- interviewing.

Unknown Territory

The Covid-19 pandemic created new opportunities for innovation and growth. It may have come to light you are missing a crucial skillset on your team that you have never filled before. Whether it's a position that doesn't exist in the world yet, or it does but you have no idea how to write the job description for it (or how much to pay) HR Branches can help.

Did you know, we can create a custom recruiting strategy for you and fill in all the blanks? Schedule your free 30 minute consult to learn more:

Schedule Now


My favorite lightbulb moment I share with clients is that… recruiting IS marketing! I know some of you just clenched and wiped the sweat off your brow. It’s ok, recruiting is entry level if you put the effort into it. There’s no funnels or paid ads (but we won’t rule that out!)

Market your position like you market your services but with a twist. You are talking to your ideal candidate. You want someone enthusiastic and passionate about your business when they talk to your customers? You better choose enthusiastic and passionate language. If you post a job description with minimal requirements, and hope they come to you, guess what’s going to happen? Your going to get the candidates that do minimal work. If they show up. To find that unicorn, YOU need to show up in your job posting.

Minimal Effort Job Posting = Minimal Effort Employee

Speaking of which, let’s talk about your job posting. Your job posting is not just your job description! Your job posting is an opportunity (non-negotiable if you want to do this right) to market your position and infuse your brand identity. Attract that ideal candidate that will be the best employee you ever hire! Some key items to include are:


          What type of candidate you are looking for (remember those essential behaviors I     

               had you write down in the preparation step?)

          Why your employees love working for you!

           Your brand identity and language

          Unique perks that set you apart as an employer. What is your culture like? Do you   

               allow pets in the office? Do you have dance party Fridays?

          What is the environment like? Will they work outside in the sunshine (and elements?)

          Clear expectations  “If you are a self-starting, go-getter and driven by achieving                             results…”

          Non-negotiables and preferred training/skills/certs/degrees

Bonus points if you make a video! 92% of marketers use video in their advertising and 99% of them will continue to use it in the future. Remember what I said earlier? Recruiting is marketing! It doesn’t have to be a professional production. People want to connect with you and your business. They want a peek inside, they want to hear from your employees and imagine themselves working for you too. And at the very least, it may help you connect with your customers.

Another tool for recruiting is referrals. This is the most common pipeline tool and for good reason. If done effectively and intentionally, a referral program:

  • Has the highest conversion rate and ROI
  • Provides employees with the greatest job satisfaction and longevity
  • Is proven to be the most cost-efficient recruiting tool
  • Results in candidates that outperform hires from other sources by 3% - 15%

I have to digress because referral programs are a whole other blog. Or a great project opportunity in the HR Branches wheelhouse! Check out our small business member packages here:

HR Branches Store


You have reached the final exam and the fruits of your labor are within reach. This step is just a crucial as preparation and marketing so don’t slack off now. Wow your top candidates by busting out your fancy interview packet and bragging about your sweet word processor skills.

Past Behavior is Indicative of Future Behavior

Use behavioral interview questions to determine if your candidates have the necessary behaviors in order to do the job successfully. This can be a bit of a grey area as they may have natural behaviors or adapted behaviors that will allow them to be successful, but not necessarily what you had in mind. Stay flexible here but if they are way off the mark (i.e. a customer service position and a candidate that lacks crucial people skills) you can confidently disqualify them for your top 3 spots.

To The 4th Degree

Leverage a 4-deep question strategy. This will get you to the root of reality, not just the version they want you to know. If there are important aspects of the job that you need to be confident your candidate is the best fit and success is crucial to your business, you can plan these follow up questions in your preparation. Otherwise, just let the conversation flow naturally and be curious!


For those businesses that avoid technological solutions (for whatever reason, like maybe, a full plate?) 2020 likely took away the choice to ignore it any further. I know interviewing on the phone or virtually is not the same but it's a good option to have in some scenarios, like what we're facing right now. 

Keep your notes neutral and focused on the actual job to avoid any legal complications. 

And there you have it! I could go into a lot more detail, this just skims the surface. If you feel you have mastered the foundation to recruiting, HR Branches can take you to the next level! Check out our memberships here:

HR Branches Store


Happy Hunting!

-Your HR Branches Team


Disclaimer: HR Branches provides general information about Human Resources. Please note that the information provided, while reliable, is not legal advice. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make sure your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location and circumstances. The purpose of this information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance on general HR matters.

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