Hiring the best talent

There’s a misconception that once your business enters into the fast-growth stage, everything’s peachy. CEOs and board members can sit back, relax, and watch the revenues stream in. Nothing could be further from the truth, according to Sage Business Expert Anil Stoker of MarketInvoice.

If your business is growing quickly, one of the most difficult things to manage is hiring the right staff. You need to hire for the right skills and personalities while all the time continuing to nurture your company’s culture.

It’s not easy. There are three areas of focus, each as important as the next:

  1. Attract: Firstly, you have to make sure that you’re marketing your company as the best possible place for your ideal candidates to work.
  2. Recruit: Next, implement a recruitment process that works consistently.
  3. Retain: Finally, once you’ve recruited the best, you need to make sure they’re happy enough to stay.

Creating a talent brand

What if you opened the door one day to a queue of eager, hungry job applicants waiting to impress you?

That’s how the world’s biggest brands do their recruitment. Do you think Google ever has to worry about which recruitment agency or job board to work with?

Building your own strong brand isn’t just powerful as a sales and marketing tool, it’s also something that will attract the right kind of job candidates.

The best recruiters call this kind of activity building your own ‘talent brand’, or ‘employer brand’. It’s about having bold branding, a modern look, and most importantly a great careers page.

Guide to employing the perfect personThe careers page on your website should not be a simple list of the job vacancies available, with dryly written copy about ‘communications skills’ et al. You need to sell your company and its culture to the hundreds (possibly thousands) of warm candidates reading your site every day.

Why should they want to work with you? What’s it like to work at your company?

A great example of a powerful careers page is that of online commerce platform Shopify. Sure, they include a compelling company mission and a paragraph about culture. But they go the extra mile too. There are fun photos of the team and the different offices along with short videos about what candidates can expect from the job application process.

Think about what your careers page looks like from the perspective of the bright graduate who knows nothing about your industry or your company. A lot of what they’re looking for goes beyond words – they want to know they’ll love working for you. Show them.

Hiring smart

Clearly creating an impressive talent brand takes time. If, in the meantime, you need to do some recruiting, there are of course a few ways you can source great candidates:

  • Ask your employees to refer friends, or friends of friends; great people will likely know great people.
  • Use your own network. Think of the best people you’ve worked with before, and reach out.
  • Try LinkedIn Recruiter. For under £100 a month you can search LinkedIn’s vast database, looking for candidates that match your desired profile

Assuming you now have a selection of quality CVs, what’s next?


Interviewing candidates can take up a lot of your time.  It’s a crucial part of the process, though. Clearly you wouldn’t want hire anyone without first seeing what they’re like, face-to-face.

On the other hand, interviews can drag on, with lots of rambling and ad hoc questions that don’t necessarily give you the insight you need.

So how can you ensure your interviews are as constructive as possible?

Firstly, be consistent. Decide in advance how your interviews are going to play out. Are you going to lead with an informal question? Or quiz them on their research? Write out the questions you’ll be asking in advance and make sure each candidate gets more or less the same experience.

Equally, you should write in advance a list of the qualities, skills and personality traits you want out of your perfect candidate for this role. Obviously these qualities will differ hugely from job role to job role; the personality of your ideal salesman will be vastly different to that of your HR manager, for example.

Straight after the interview, sit down in a quiet corner and really think about how the candidate performed. Use the list of criteria you drew up beforehand and rate this person against those characteristics. Were they enthusiastic? Were they knowledgeable? These ratings will help you decide between candidates.

Best-in-class training

The story goes as follows:

The FD of a growing business says to his CEO, “What if we spend all this time and money to train people and then they leave?!”

The CEO answers in a beat: “What if we don’t train them, and they stay?”

Think about it. You’re spending your time, energy and money hiring all these brilliant new people to join your ranks. Isn’t it a waste to then have them standing still? You want them to be learning all the time, always developing new skills.

They’ll thank you for it. Happier, engaged employees are more likely to stay, but they’ll also be able to apply their newfound knowledge to the management of your company.

Implement a well thought out and well funded internal training strategy and you’ll find the investment soon pays off.

We have a number of ways that we deliver initial and ongoing employee training.

Great retention rates start with great training so remember to put as much effort into moulding each new joiner as you did when you went about hiring them.

Growing businesses are almost always thinking about how best to grow their team. Here we’ve just covered some tips that we’re finding useful- what do you do in your business?

We’d love to know your thoughts. Add your comments below or tweet us with #GrowMyBusiness @MarketInvoice and @BusinessZone.

Anil Stocker

Anil Stocker

Anil is the co-founder of MarketInvoice, an alternative to traditional bank products. At the forefront of a revolution in small business lending, it provides online invoice finance for SMEs. Since launching in 2011 it’s channelled over £300 million to UK SMEs. Anil has a background in private equity, working first with the Lehman Brothers Private Equity Group, and subsequently the investment bank Cogent Partners.