Startup and small business hiring: strategies for success
For startups and small practices, recruiting staff is a process with more variables and challenges than for larger practices. It’s likely that you don’t yet have a recruitment strategy in place… you may be the sole recruiter, interviewer, and decision-maker… and since you are just getting off the ground, making the wrong hiring decision has bigger implications – like setbacks due to wasted time and lost capital.
In addition, the ABA field is already known for its hiring and retention issues that stem from an ever-growing demand for services paired with a shortage of qualified talent. Today, challenges continue to intensify as factors like the residual impact of COVID-19, autism prevalence rising, and more candidates seeking remote positions, which has largely become the norm since the pandemic.
With all of that said: it is still very possible to successfully recruit, onboard, train, and retain top talent! We just provided a wide-lens overview of your first step: becoming aware of the ABA staffing landscape. It’s impossible to devise a recruitment strategy without knowing what you’re up against and the roadblocks that lie ahead.
Although you might think the next step is to jump onto the job boards, it isn’t. It involves looking inward and re-examining the business goals, mission, and company culture you are striving to foster. These principles are unique to each business, and fine-tuning them (as well as sharing them with other individuals involved in the hiring process) should happen prior to even typing up a job description. Keeping the key principles that matter most to you in mind as you begin the hiring process is important for many reasons. First, it ensures your desired mission and company culture are clearly conveyed to candidates through job posts, interviews, and speaking with you one-on-one. Second, it creates a narrower pool of candidates that are more likely to align with your vision.
We suggest printing this list and jotting down details for each respective area of your practice. Doing so will help you keep these specifics in mind as you embark on the often-hectic hiring journey – e.g., writing job descriptions, conducting pre-screens and interviews, making a job offer, and so forth.
If you read our last blog, A 10-step roadmap to starting your own ABA practice, you’ve already defined your niche in the ABA field. You have identified the clients you are looking to serve, defined what it is that you do best, and know what sets you apart from the competition. Now is the time to share that information with potential job seekers! Doing this up front weeds out unsuitable applicants from your candidate pool.
Part of finding the right fit in an employee is ensuring they align with your company culture. For startups and small businesses, a new hire has a larger impact on your culture than they would at a larger company, which makes it important to keep this in mind during the interview process. One wrong fit can throw off an environment you worked hard to create.
Are there certain components of running a business that you cannot wrap your head around, dread working on, or simply don’t have the expertise to handle – or complete quickly enough to avoid creating bottlenecks in processes? It is nothing to be ashamed of – we all have our strengths and weaknesses. Now is the time to take an inventory of those gaps, if you haven’t already. Doing so means that, come hiring time, you may opt to select a candidate that possesses skillsets that could enable them to eventually take over tasks that would free up your time to focus on other initiatives.
Regardless of size, businesses across the board share a widespread practice: leveraging their network to recruit top talent. Whether the referral source is a friend, a friend of a friend, or a former colleague, networking to find a great hire works, and for one simple reason: generally, good people know good people. The better your network is, the easier it will be to hire. We know your plate is full, but establishing and nurturing a network within your field will help you recruit top talent today – staff that will help you get your business off the ground – as well as later, when you are more established.
5. Career development
Professional development, training offerings, and opportunity for growth are excellent selling points – especially in such a competitive recruitment market. While training is important across all fields, it’s critical for those that provide ABA therapy. In a constantly changing field, practitioners must keep up, and skillsets need to evolve with changing times. Training is valuable to practitioners who are driven to improve professionally and progress in their careers, so talking about growth and advancement opportunities gives you a leg up over practices that do not focus on staff development efforts.
A final note before you begin the hiring process.
It might seem tempting to jump into hiring headfirst, especially if you’ve been operating as a one-person show since you opened your business. However, entering the process hastily increases the chances you will make the wrong hiring decisions… yielding implications that are expensive, affect morale, and wastes time that could have been spent elsewhere. Completing this little bit of due diligence upfront can make or break whether your hiring process is a success.
Now that you’ve nailed down the tenets of your practice, download our ABA-specific recruitment guide for a strategic roadmap to sourcing top talent in the field! Click here to download it now and get started.