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Top small business recruitment strategies and tips on hiring the best candidates in regional areas

Since the change in government this year, several industrial relations reforms have been submitted, which Australian retail businesses can expect over the next couple of months.

When it comes to recruitment, familiarising yourself with Australian laws will help you avoid common pitfalls that can delay and hinder the hiring process for your small business. The government has created a comprehensive checklist business owners can follow to ensure things are done right.

To help busy business owners, Leading Edge Retail has also come up with a list of things to consider and avoid when hiring staff. In addition, we provide valuable tips for attracting talented staff in regional areas.

The Dos and Don’ts of Recruitment

DO protect your reputation as a best-practice employer

In today’s challenging job climate, placing your best foot forward when interviewing prospective employees is important. Treat interviews as if the candidate is also evaluating you. Act professionally and showcase what makes your brand different.

Let candidates know what you’re looking for and highlight any benefits they gain from joining the company such as monetary benefits, career growth and training, mentoring or other types of support. At the end of the interview, thank the candidates for their time and set clear expectations by letting them know when they can hear back from you.

DON’T ask questions about protected attributes

Under the Fair Work Act, prospective employees should not be required to disclose and be discriminated against protected attributes. The list of attributes includes race, sexual orientation, age, disability, religion, political opinion and more.

A candidate can claim that they have been overlooked or offered unfavourable terms due to the attribute they’ve disclosed and file legal action against you.

To avoid this, it’s best to ask questions about the candidate’s skills, knowledge and experience and assess answers based on their suitability and ability to perform the tasks required for the role.

DO treat candidates’ information sensitively

During the recruitment process, applicants may send their personal information, such as name, email, contact number and previous experience, to help hiring managers assess their suitability for a role.

As a business owner, you are responsible for only collecting the minimum information required, depending on how the applications progress. If someone is still going through the first round of interviews and evaluation, for example, wait until the final selection before collecting banking details, tax file numbers or referral information.

In addition, be clear about why and how personal information will be used and stored. Documents must be kept safe, secure, and out of reach from other team members.

DON’T ask questions that are irrelevant to the position

When talking to candidates, choose questions that will help evaluate role suitability. Make sure the job’s duties are clearly explained and what’s expected from the candidate.

Depending on the role, you can end an employment offer due to medical conditions and disabilities, but only if they are linked to a genuine requirement of the position.

For example, if the job calls for someone to lift heavy equipment every single day, then physical strength and ability are inherent requirements of the job. Therefore, a prospective employee, who suffers from any condition preventing them from performing the task, may be refused the role.

Four tips for attracting talent in Australia’s regional areas

For many small businesses, staff shortages are one of the biggest challenges. Staff shortage often leads to unpleasant customer experiences, unnecessary delays, burnt-out business owners, and closed-down shops.

This problem is even worse for businesses in regional areas where talent is more scarce. So what can regional retailers do to attract more applicants to their businesses?

Treat prospective employees like customers and use proven marketing tactics to reach them.

1. Build a strong brand

Create a good impression and connect with applicants early in the recruitment process by sharing your brand story. Consider what makes the business unique and what it stands for to attract talent with shared values.

Millennials and Gen Z are known to look for roles that align with their personal beliefs, so make sure you demonstrate your values online. For example, if you value sustainability and inclusivity, add this to your website and showcase company initiatives on social media.

2. Get to know your audience

Know the workforce profile in the region and take advantage of regional networks and job boards when advertising vacancies online and in local social media groups.

In addition, don’t limit the audience size by only looking at candidates’ past job experiences. Pay attention to soft and transferrable skills. Sales skills may be an important requirement for the role, but if a candidate is willing to learn and has a positive attitude, consider investing in training instead.

3. Promote your area

Showcase what your town has to offer. Many families are moving to regional areas due to more affordable homes, lower cost of living and close-knit communities. Paint a beautiful picture of your local amenities, whether beaches or national parks.

4. Make the transition easier for new staff

If possible, include attractive benefits and perks in your employment packages. For example, provide relocation support for the entire family, parental leave, access to gyms, health services and training programs. Like customers, candidates need to be attracted to an exciting offer.

Final thoughts and takeaway

With labour shortages across Australia, finding talented retail staff can be challenging and time-consuming. It gets even more complicated when workplace laws change quickly.

To get ahead of the recruitment game, it’s best to make time, keep up to date with workplace regulations, and target prospective employees using the same branding and marketing strategies and tactics used to attract customers.

To help Members navigate workplace relations and other important issues, the Leading Edge Retail memberships include membership to National Retail Association, giving them access to retail, HR and legal experts who can provide advice and support when needed.


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