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How to attract the best employees

'Energy, enthusiasm and an ability to learn always add to the talents people have. This makes up for any lack of experience they can acquire as I am prepared to coach them.'
Liz Roadley, Stitches to Style

Top tips

  • Make sure your job description includes what you can offer
  • Be serious about your brand
  • Be clear about what you want

Be clear about what you want and what you've got

Stitches-to-Style owner Liz Roadley says the perfect person for the job is out there but you need to know what you're looking for in order to find them.

'Whether you're after a skill, knowledge base or experience, you need to be sure,' she says.

The next step is to prepare a job description that offers potential staff something beyond a financial reward and standard conditions, so highlight an attractive workspace, flexible hours, training opportunities or other incentives. ‘Our retail space is light and airy and a colourful, comfortable place to work in. Our systems are up-to-date and we enjoy a close relationship with clients', says Liz.

Advertise strategically and send the right signals

As well as targeting potential candidates, think about friends and colleagues in your own network who could ‘spread the word’ for you. 'One of my best successes has been employing the sister of one of my employees'. Also, don't forget that potential staff are judging you too, so its important to act professionally. It sends a signal that you know what you are doing and are serious about your brand. 'I have a background in strategic human resources so I am lucky I can easily conduct a professional interview process. If you don’t though, you need to think about how you would like to be treated as a potential staff member and as a person,' says Liz.

Continually scan your environment

Even if you don’t have an immediate need, always be on the look out for valuable people in your daily interactions – customers, suppliers, colleagues and even friends. Make an effort to keep in touch with people you think would fit into your business in the future. When you are ready to hire, somebody in this network of ‘pre-qualified’ people could fulfill your need. ‘In everything I do in operating my business, there are some people I meet and just click with. I know these are the first people I would call on to work with if I had a need.’

Don't jump to conclusions

Break your tasks down and think laterally about how to achieve them. Consider contracting different people with different skills sets for specific tasks or offer a student placement, up-skill an existing staff member, offer short-term project opportunities, find expertise through online market places such as elance.com and DesignCrowd.  These options can also be a good way of ‘trying before buying’ as you get an insight into how different people perform.

Sometimes you need to say no

Despite your best efforts, sometimes you just can’t fill a role. If you are prepared to compromise, taking on someone with less skills and knowledge (which can be built through training) is better than hiring someone who has the experience but doesn’t have an attitude that suits your business. ‘If it doesn’t ‘feel right’ sometimes it is better to rethink your strategy rather than make a costly mistake.’

The result

By having a clear idea of the staff needed and keeping her hiring options open, Liz Roadley is one of Australia’s longest-standing importers and retailers of haute couture fabrics from Europe.