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For most small businesses, the job of seeing to tasks like hiring, payroll management, and benefits oversight is generally split among a few employees. That’s because having a small staff can make it hard to justify hiring someone to start a true human resources (HR) department. Still, the fact is that most small businesses wait far too long to hire an HR manager to centralize the job of taking care of the business’s most precious commodities: its’ workers.

In general, any company that has 50 or more employees should have a dedicated HR manager in its ranks. The truth is, however, it’s probably a good idea for most companies to hire one far sooner than that since there are few things more vital to a growing company than making sure their first hires provide the skills and cultural fit needed to thrive. Since this is such a consequential business decision, here are some tips on how a small business can recruit and hire a top-notch HR manager.

Start With an Honest Company Evaluation

One of the biggest things that small companies get wrong when hiring an HR manager is to assume at the outset that the role is cut and dry. In reality, however, not all prospective HR managers have experience in the same areas, so hiring the right one is almost exclusively about the specific company’s needs. For example, if a business is heading into a growth phase, they’ll need a candidate with plenty of experience in recruitment and hiring. If the company is facing stiff market competition, they may need an HR manager that has experience with employee retention programs, to avoid a talent exodus. The point is, before beginning the process of selecting an HR manager, it’s vital to first pin down exactly what the company will need them to do. The focus should be on short-term needs, with an eye toward near-future needs.

Create an Accurate Job Description

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Once the business’s needs are clear, the next thing to do is to create a concise, accurate job description. Within it, it’s vital to be as specific and comprehensive as possible, while highlighting the specific skills needed by the business above all else. The job description will not only guide the search and recruitment process but will also help potential candidates to know how well they might fit in the role. When it comes to hiring an HR manager, this may be the hardest step – after all, one of the reasons to hire an HR manager is bringing in someone with the expertise to write job descriptions and recruit the best candidates.

Determine an Appropriate Salary

Before going through the process of recruiting candidates for the HR manager role, it’s important to figure out what salary level the business can justify for the position. In a typical small business, the impulse will usually be to aim for the smallest possible salary, but that can make it difficult to find a candidate that will thrive in the job. The first step to research what other companies in the area (and within the same industry) typically pay their HR managers. As with most high-level positions, the salary range of an HR manager can have a wide variance. This is especially true when recruiting candidates with CIPD certifications, or their equivalents in the business’s area of operation.

Assess Technology Needs

Any business that’s approaching the task of building a new HR function will likely also be in the market for an HR software solution. Before hiring a new HR manager, it’s a good idea to determine which HR technology the business will be investing in. That way, it becomes possible to recruit a candidate with specific knowledge of the platform the business will use. Doing so serves the dual purposes of helping the company get the most out of its’ HR software investment, while simultaneously making it easier for the new HR manager to hit the ground running on day one.

Consider Cultural Needs

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By the time that an average small business grows to the point of needing a full-time HR manager, there’s a good chance that its company culture is already well established. Before hiring an HR manager though, it’s a good idea to assess the company culture and determine if it’s something that will need to be reinforced, changed, or scrapped entirely. That’s because building a new HR function is something of a cultural inflection point for a business – sort of a last chance to alter the cultural course before moving into a higher-growth phase. Since the new HR manager will be charged with tracking the company’s culture and effecting any necessary changes to it, they will need to know what strategic direction the company wants to take from the moment they assume their role.

Take The Time to do Things Right

With all of the prerequisite preparations in place, all that’s left to do is to post a job opening in the right places and wait for candidates to start submitting resumes. At this stage, though, it’s important for the business to recognize that there’s no need to be hasty. It pays to take the time to screen and interview multiple candidates and really consider which has the perfect mix of skills, personality, and experience for the new role. Without a previous HR manager to use as a prototype, though, this will be a decision borne of logic and intuition. The biggest tip to getting it right is to let the hiring process take its natural course to find the right candidate. When that person does come along, hiring them will seem like a foregone conclusion – and there will be no looking back.