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9 min read

Building a Recruitment Plan for Your Small Business

A lot has changed over the past nine months. As a small business owner, you may not be in a position to hire at the moment – and that’s understandable. 

“Lots of small companies aren’t dealing with the challenge of their business increasing,” one hiring expert told “These businesses aren’t hiring; they’re just asking their people to do more. But you can only do that for so long before people are exhausted and say, ‘I’m done.’”

Ideally, you won’t reach the stage where your employees are burned out and unable to keep up with the demands of running your small business. But, at some point, your business will start growing – and you’ll need new talent to help you keep up. This is where a strong recruitment plan can play a big role. 

A recruitment plan is a forward-looking document that will prepare your company if an employee leaves suddenly or for when your business starts to grow. Here’s what goes into a recruitment plan – and how it can save your small business time, resources, and headaches.

[Download now: Free Recruitment Plan Template]

What is a recruitment plan?

A recruitment plan is a strategy for hiring new employees that offers a blueprint for determining when to hire, how to put together an offer, bringing together a hiring team, and other high-level steps that can guide the overall hiring process. 

A recruitment plan offers a set of guidelines and steps that can be replicated no matter what open position it is you’re trying to fill. This strategy helps you identify what internal resources need to be in place before you kick off the hiring process. It can show you where you need to allocate resources, how to get the right people involved, and ways to ensure that you’re setting up your hiring process to recruit the best people for your unique business needs. 

A hiring plan is different from a recruitment plan. As the US Chamber of Commerce describes, hiring involves actively seeking candidates for a specific role in your company. Things like posting a job description, sifting through applications, and interviewing all fall under the purview of hiring. Recruiting is more about the continuous research it takes to find the best employees for your company. Promoting your workplace culture, building an employer brand, and networking are all recruitment activities. 

[Read more: The Small Business Guide to Hiring the Right Person]

Hiring is consistently ranked as one of the top five things that keeps small business owners up at night. Merchants of all sizes are concerned about finding the right talent, retaining their best employees, and reducing the high costs of turnover or hiring the wrong person. 

A recruitment plan is a simple, yet powerful way to alleviate some of those worries. Small business owners can build a roadmap for hiring that sets them up for success every time there’s an open position to be filled. 

Signs that it’s a good time to hire

The first part of your recruitment plan should help you confirm when is a good time to initiate the hiring process. This will look different for every small business, but pay attention to these signs to understand if your business is ready to invest in finding a new employee. 

Your company is growing – fast

“Many business owners make the mistake of growing first and hiring second,” said Jodie Shaw, chief marketing officer at The Alternative Board. “The truth is, it can take six to 12 months to get a new hire up to speed on your business and allow them to acclimate to your culture.”

Pay attention to your sales numbers, cash flow, and profit margin. If your small business is missing opportunities because your staff simply can’t keep up, that’s a good sign it’s time to bring on some new energy. And, you must have the revenue to support hiring – it can be an expensive process, but worthwhile if you find the right person.

Your staff is overworked.

If your small business is working remotely for the foreseeable future, it can be hard to discern if employees have too much on their plates. Look for a few of these telling signals to find out if your team has been burning the candle at both ends. 

  • Work quality has dropped.
  • Customer issues aren’t being addressed as quickly as usual.
  • You’re not able to say yes to employee requests for time off. 
  • Overtime is above normal. 
  • Employees are burned out – they are late, cranky, or making mistakes on the job.

You’re taking on too much.

Unless you’re just starting out, the business owner should be able to delegate much of the day-to-day work to talented managers and staff. It’s a sign that you need to make a hire if you’re rolling up your sleeves and filling in for employees who can’t keep up. Pay attention to your stress levels – if you’re stressed and overwhelmed, your team probably is too. 

Keep in mind that the average time it takes to hire for a new role is 36 days. That person also needs to be trained and brought up to speed. It’s better to be proactive in your recruiting and hiring, rather than to wait until you’re desperate to fill a role. 

Develop a great offer

Of course, every position is going to have a different offer in terms of salary and benefits. But, your recruitment plan should anticipate some of the more consistent elements of a job offer. 

First, identify your salary ranges. “Salary ranges help employers control their pay expenses and ensure pay equity among employees. It is critical that employers have rational explanations for why they pay their employees a certain rate, and defined salary ranges help accomplish that,” explains SHRM

Salary ranges depend on a person’s experience, industry standards, the role and responsibilities, and what your organization can afford. Check out SHRM’s guide on creating salary ranges to learn how to go through this complex process. 

Then, get into the non-monetary benefits. What does your small business offer that others can’t? Several surveys found that smaller merchants are getting creative with their perks, offering things such as: 

  • 57% of small businesses say they are offering flexible hours
  • 33% say they are offering flexible work locations
  • 21% say they offer advancement and mobility
  • 18% say they provide generous vacation policies

Create hiring materials that speak to the many advantages of working at a small organization. In your employer branding and job description templates, highlight that employees often wear many hats, learn on the job, avoid the bureaucracy and company politics of a corporation, and become part of a tightly-knit team by joining your business. These materials will come in handy throughout your hiring process.

Identifying skill gaps in your team 

Next, your recruitment plan should provide steps for identifying skill gaps in your team. A recruitment plan should account for the strengths in your existing workforce, skills that are needed for which you can offer training, and ongoing market analysis that shows where there might be new skills needed in the future. 

“Before assessing any potential gaps in skill, you must first identify the skills that are most important to your business and the job position in question. This information can come from job descriptions, your business’s goals and your company values,” reported the US Chamber of Commerce.

Ask team members what skills they wish to develop further – empowering your existing your employees with training and development is a great retention tool. Look to your technology solutions to see if there are free tools or software updates that you can make to account for current skill gaps. What remaining skills are not covered by training or technology is what you should design your hiring process to seek out. 

What budget and hiring tools do you need?

Technology can significantly speed up your hiring process and help you find the right candidate the first time around. Your recruitment plan should identify the tools and platforms you will use to aid in your hiring process. 

Look for ways to automate things like candidate sourcing, communication, job ad placement, candidate surveys, and more. Artificial intelligence, AI, can dramatically speed up your hiring and do the lion’s share of sourcing, screening, and interviewing admin for your team. Read more in our guides: 

How much should you set aside to spend on finding a new employee? Your budget will vary, but plan to set aside a few thousand dollars per open role. “Cost-per-hire depends on company size and number of hires. Larger companies making a lot of hires can keep the cost lower than smaller companies. But, generally, aiming for an average cost-per-hire between $3,000 and $5,000 is good practice,” said Lacey Brandt, the CFO of Workable.

Do the research and budgeting before you need to make a new hire so that when the time comes, you have everything in place to get started. 

Design your hiring team: who should be involved?

It’s critical to have the right people in charge of putting together the job description, conducting interviews, and choosing the candidate who will join your organization. Typically the hiring team needs to include a recruiter or HR representative, the hiring manager (i.e., the person who will be managing the new hire), and a team member or coworker who will be working closely with this person. 

You must also make diversity a priority in your hiring team. “Ensuring diversity of interviewers helps increase the likelihood of success in hiring a diverse candidate,” notes Breezy HR. Breezy also suggests that, if you can, you should create a schedule so that your most diverse employees aren’t overburdened with supporting the recruitment and hiring efforts. Outline who will be involved in which stages of the hiring process to create clarity and employee buy-in as the process unfolds. 

Continuous feedback and improvement

How will you know if your recruitment plan is working? Schedule regular check-ins for evaluating and adjusting your process as you go. Note key performance metrics such as time-to-productivity, employee engagement, and first-year attrition rate to make sure that your hiring process is working. Send out surveys to your employees to check in on their development and engagement. And, ask candidates for their feedback, even if you don’t end up extending an offer. They can tell you a lot about what works and what doesn’t. 

Download our free Recruitment Plan Template today and align your hiring goals with the objectives of your organization.

Emily Heaslip

Emily Heaslip

Emily Heaslip is a wordsmith extraordinaire, weaving narratives that captivate and compel audiences across digital realms. With over eight years of experience in the art of storytelling, Emily has mastered the craft of freelance copywriting, infusing SEO strategies and content marketing tactics to craft captivating tales for brands such as HelloFresh, ADAY, and BlackRock. As the founder of Emily Heaslip Copywriting, Emily channels her creative energy into delivering unparalleled copywriting services that resonate with clients and audiences alike. Her journey from journalism to global relief efforts has imbued her writing with depth and authenticity, setting her apart as a versatile writer with a unique perspective. When she's not crafting captivating content, Emily can be found mentoring budding writers, sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience to empower the next generation of storytellers. With a passion for words and a talent for communication, Emily continues to inspire and connect through the power of storytelling.

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