Hiring? Advice from GrowLab Program Manager

by Victoria Lennox

5 min read

BY STACY GARDNER (@GARDNERSTACY) |  PIVOT MAGAZINE WRITER

Depending on who’s reading this, there was a time when a trip to your stationary store was the first stop to start your eventual quest for the job of your dreams. Or, the job you simply needed.

Ah yes, the endeavour to squeeze your work and educational experience, and sometimes hobbies and personal attributes, on a one- or two-page resume on high quality paper. It would be just the right grey or tan colour to embolden all the punchy letters and bullets of your professional essay, not to mention your reinforcing covering letter with your name boldly displayed as title. Pick Me!

I’m your Woman. I’m your Man. Hire Me.

“Gone are those days,” quips Jennifer Aubin, Founder of both Tech Bent, a recruitment and networking firm, and Organize Your People, an online ‘human resources’ software program designed to support small businesses and startups.

The old adage of making an impression is still true, says Aubin, except now the presentation has become more important and relevant electronically.

“You still have to stand out, but not by being a resume stalker,” says Aubin. “I can tell when I am receiving a resume that randomly spammed 20 other companies, especially when they automatically address me as: Dear Sir.”

Not cool.

Researching the company is so important because even if I don’t know you, I’ll know enough not to hang onto or pass on your resume,” says Aubin. “Nowadays, despite technology, you need to engage, tell the company what you like about them, what you can do for them. A person can only tell you that, if they are interested in your company or product. And that’s key.”

Earlier this year, Intuit Canada polled more than 500 business owners to determine who they’re hiring, how they’re hiring, and what tools they use to make the process easier.

The Study

According to Intuit Canada, hiring employees is tough work, and because most entrepreneurs don’t have an HR department or a payroll, it adds a whole bunch of to-do’s on the entrepreneurs’ already busy list. Below are some key stats the study uncovered:

Three major trends that prevent job creation within small businesses:

  • 45%  Worry about finding people with the right skills
  • 33%  Don’t know the cost of on-boarding a new employee
  • 42%  Frustrated with managing payroll

The most important qualifications small businesses hire for:

  • 44%  The right skills
  • 20%  Fit in with company culture
  • 19%  Understanding the business, lending trust
  • 17%  The right experience for the role

The typical pressing needs of most small businesses:

  • 43%  Day-to-day operations
  • 20%  Sales and marketing
  • 4%    Finance and administration

Intuit concludes that if there are two simple ways to make hiring less painful it’s:

  1. Getting set up with a payroll situation, like QuickBooks, and
  2. Talking to your accountant.

Small Businesses, Big Job Creators

As Intuit notes in its study, “entrepreneurs by definition, are a lot of things: Risk Takers, Inventors, Community Builders, Job Creators”. The latter perhaps the most important, as statistics show about half of all Canadians working in the private sector work for a small business (those with fewer than 100 employees).

GrowLab is a Vancouver-based startup accelerator that helps entrepreneurs build great companies through seed funding, mentorship, providing collaborative workspace and three months of intensive programming.

Enter, Charlyne Fothergill of GrowLab.

“I spent six years as an HR generalist doing recruitment in different industries including tech before coming to GrowLab,” says Fothergill. “At GrowLab, I run the day-to-day operations and help execute on the vision of GL five founders. GL is based in the tech hub of Vancouver and I get to use my HR background to help mentor startups on best HR practices including recruitment and hiring.”

In the startup world, says Fothergill, you really have to have your finger on the pulse, and that means attracting like-minded people for your company and vision.

Also, transparency in any business is crucial, but it’s especially important in a start-up, she says. While you may not be able to offer your new recruit all the bells and whistles typical of a 9-to-5 big business, what you can offer them is the autonomy and understanding as to how they can create their own job and contribute to the design and growth of the company, especially at a grassroots level. That’s the beauty of a start-up culture, Fothergill says. If you’re looking for real talent, and there is a hungry person who wants to tap into their own potential, and everyone is passionate about the same goal, then that’s gold.

“Finding these people the traditional resume way, is not really the go-to place any longer,” says Fothergill. “Technology has become the new introductory handshake, and with LinkedIn, and people still using Craiglist and Twitter, and various other social mediums to network or assert an interest in jobs or to post them, even the original job boards like Monster and Workopolis have lost momentum.”

Personal Connections Matter

At the end of the day, even with all the electronic advancements in the job search and recruitment processes, an old fashioned personal recommendation still goes a long way.

“Anyone who has worked for me, I’ve known, or knew of them, and knew of their talent,” says Aubin. “It is who you know, but it’s also making yourself known in a positive way, towards your true work and passion, which will put you in the right place with the right people and the right company.”

Fothergill agrees, noting that word-of-mouth and old fashioned referrals are still common methods used for hiring. If there’s someone who has a tech savvy friend that has a specific or refined talent that the company would like to explore, why not give the person who has the most in common with the culture, a shot?

At the end of the day, like any good working relationship, it’s about compatibility, and that’s personal, not paper.

Earlier this year, Intuit Canada talked to more than 500 small business owners about the top trends and challenges of job creation and sourcing top talent. Spurred by the results of that study, Startup Canada andIntuit Canada have partnered on a campaign to support small business owners and entrepreneurs across Canada in accessing the knowledge and tools they need for better hiring practices and to support the success and growth of their companies. Stay tuned to PIVOT for more conversations with key players and experts in hiring and small business human resources. Also, check out Intuit’s new Google+ Page for links to essential hiring and payroll resources and tools.

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