Recruiting alone: Hiring as an HR department of one
Whether you're the sole HR professional at a mid-size company or a small business owner wearing multiple hats, recruiting alone has its challenges.
Those working solo must not only handle the standard sourcing and interviewing duties; they also must keep abreast of ever-changing legal requirements and be able to change priorities in reaction to market shifts.
Because working alone doesn't absolve HR of these responsibilities, the primary challenge for the one-person HR department when it comes to recruitment and sourcing is time, says Leah Machado, director of HR services at Paychex.
“Finding the time to create job descriptions, conduct compensation analysis, screen resumes, schedule interviews, and negotiate offers can be difficult when HR managers are trying to juggle so many other responsibilities, such as regulatory compliance, payroll and benefits administration, managing employee relations, and leadership and employee training," she told HR Dive. It's also difficult to keep up with new technology that could both make your company more enticing to applicants and make your job easier, Machado said.
To outsource or not to outsource?
If recruiting is a top priority for your employer, outsourcing other time-consuming functions may make sense. From payroll and benefits administrators to background screening services, there's a vendor for everything.
And with those tasks handled, HR is better able to focus on strategic recruiting efforts, which, in today's tight talent market, is vital, according to Arlene Vernon, HR consultant and management trainer at HRx. Those who don't move quickly to fill openings often lose talent to the competition.
Today's HR pro “has to be on top of the resumes as they come in and reach out to qualified and semi-qualified candidates quickly,” she said. “If they find the right person, the company has to be prepared to interview and extend an offer quickly.”
Outsourcing also can open up time for strategic sourcing. Large job boards and local hiring resources have their place, but for niche positions, or where the skills/talent gap is significant, there are better — but potentially more time-consuming — options. Industry-specific sites and associations can help narrow the field, for example.
Still, for some highly specialized positions, there may be no choice but to outsource recruiting itself, says Lorraine Gusé, senior VP, human resources director at Community Bank of Oak Park River Forest. Gusé knows how difficult it can be to make those choices.
“I have occasionally used recruiters to source hard to fill openings," she said. "It’s an expensive route for a smaller firm so we have to use this strategically as a resource.”
One non-negotiable task, however, is networking. Solo HR pros need networking to remain competitive, Gusé says. “Stay connected to your network. Be proactive in reaching out," she said. Business colleagues can be very helpful in offering ideas and names as you're sourcing candidates.
Vernon agreed: “It’s vital that HR 'soloists' connect with their local HR community to keep abreast of what’s going on in recruiting, compliance and operational trends," she said. There’s likely a group out there that fits your company’s business model. “Tap into community resources, associations, mastery groups to ensure you have a network of people to call on when you need key information, rather than reinventing the wheel,” she added.
National organizations like the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as LinkedIn connections, can be great resources, Gusé said, but don't forget about local groups, as well. They can help you keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and your community.
Prioritization is key
At the end of the day, you can't do it all yourself. But today's labor market requires strategic recruiting efforts, so that's one task that even an HR department of one might want to retain, at least most of the time.
Certain duties just have such a high return on investment for hiring that they can't be ignored; from managing the company's brand to investing in tools that will streamline your recruiting efforts, the solo HR pro must prioritize the strategic aspects of recruiting.
"The more time you can spend thinking strategically about recruiting, acquiring and retaining top talent to move your business forward," the better, Machado said. Other, more administrative recruiting tasks, like posting jobs and conducting background checks, may be good candidates for outsourcing, she said.
The good news is that today's HR professional has a wealth of resources available to keep them connected and informed. From technology to networks, trusted advisors to online resources, the solo HR professional is more equipped to face their challenges than ever before.