Small business recruitment - how to achieve the perfect 'fit'

Melissa Coggan - Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Guest Blogger - Adam Kowalski from Kowalski Recruitment

Almost every small business owner I speak to says that recruiting and retaining high quality staff for their business is one of their biggest challenges. Recruiting staff is certainly a big step – wages are an expensive overhead, and the difference between an excellent staff member and a substandard staff member can have a profound impact on the overall performance of your business.  We look at recruiting staff as being an investment in your business -an opportunity to grow, to increase performance, and to provide your stakeholders with a better service or experience.

Over the past 20 years Kowalski Recruitment has been helping small businesses to recruit excellent staff who are the “perfect “fit”, and when we talk about “fit”, what we look at is how the candidate’s goals and objectives align with those of the business – and also whether they have the skills and experience that the business needs at a specific point in time.

While each business is unique, there are some specific characteristics that we look for in candidates we recruit for small businesses:

A track record in client service roles
There are very few roles in small business which don’t have a client service component – everyone represents your business to some extent, so we look favourably on candidates who have worked in hospitality or retail roles early on in their careers.  Even if it was a long time ago, while studying for example, these types of candidates naturally gravitate towards people and enjoy human interaction.  Skills developed in hospitality or retail roles include: communication skills, negotiation experience, problem solving ability, teamwork, along with having a client centric approach.

Broad Skillsets
Candidates with narrow skillsets or a very specific area of expertise can often be less versatile, which can be problematic if your business is rapidly growing or changing – job roles, corporate structures and skill requirements can change dramatically.  People who can take on some tasks which fall outside their specific job role can be a huge asset – particularly if someone has the ability to take away some of the peripheral tasks you do as a business owner.  Look for candidates who demonstrate versatility, adaptability, the ability to multi-task, and are highly organised.

Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is something that can’t be measured on a CV, however it’s crucial when it comes to the fit of the candidate within your business.  How intuitive are they, what will they be like to work with, and how do their personal goals and values align with those of your business? When interviewing candidates for your business, think about their overall job suitability, how they have previously shown initiative, and also how they interact with you during the interview.

Results / outcome focussed
Results or outcome focussed people generally understand the commercial reality of being in business - they will want to help the business to grow, they will look to take on more, and they like working to deadlines.  Look for a track record of achievement in previous roles, their personal drive and overall “energy”.

In small business staff loyalty is very important due to the time and effort involved in recruiting and training a new staff member.  Look at a candidate’s employment background thoroughly, put yourself into their shoes, and try to understand their reasoning for leaving previous positions. The other thing to consider is their current relationship with past employers, so be very thorough when conducting references.

As part of our ongoing relationship with 360five Kowalski Recruitment would be delighted to provide no obligation advice to 360five clients who want to achieve the “perfect fit.” Contact Adam on 02 6230 6636 or visit