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Recruiting: How To Attract Top Talent for Your Small Business

Attracting stellar talent is a challenge for any size business. While it might appear at first glance that bigger companies have every advantage in hiring great talent, the truth is that entrepreneurs and small business owners actually have the upper hand in many ways.

Use your brand’s edge and learn how to hire the superstar talent you need with this small business hiring guide.

Focus on Your Advantages

Without a big budget and the big perks it can buy, you’ll need to highlight what your small business has to offer that larger companies simply can’t provide.

What appeals to top talent and can grab their attention from the big guys?

  • Greater flexibility in scheduling
  • Closer relationships between team and leadership
  • Room for advancement within the company
  • Increased opportunities to flex and hone skills
  • Less bureaucratic red tape
  • Closer mentoring
  • Sharing in the brand’s growth

The added value you can offer depends on who you want to hire. One candidate might appreciate your company’s staying power, while another is looking for growth opportunities. No matter who you want to bring on board, you’ll want to make a compelling case for how their skills and vision can contribute to the growth of your organization.

Write a Fresh Job Description

Okay, we’re not the first to say this and we certainly won’t be the last, but if you’re fishing for the top talent, you won’t catch it with mediocre bait.

Great employees seek roles that challenge and reward. Polish your job description so it reflects your needs along with your brand’s personality. What is your mission? What makes your brand shine? Do you run a fast-paced ship or is “slow but steady” your motto? Do you value go-getters, team players, or all of the above?

This is the time to remember your small business advantage and really let it shine. The quality of candidates you attract is directly related to the job descriptions you post, so skip the boring bullet points and craft a posting that conveys your personality.

Define the Team

Can the cookie cutter buzzwords and use your own passion and charm to tell your brand’s story. Describe the culture and pace of your organization in a voice that will appeal to your ideal employee. What do you value and what do you stand for? Let people know what you’re about in a way that makes them want to be a part of it.

Define the Candidate

Who will thrive in this position? What is their goal or vision? What can they bring to the team? Consider which skills the ideal candidate would bring to the table, and use them to help articulate exactly what you’re looking for in a new hire. Things to consider are:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Team Building
  • Education
  • Certification

Of course, you’re hiring personality as well as skills and experience. While the basic requirements of a given position will dictate a lot of what you look for in a candidate, you also want to attract people who will mesh with your team as a whole and who are enthusiastic about your brand.

What is the greater role a candidate needs to fill? Are you hiring for expertise? Or do you need someone to do what you don’t have time for? These will likely require different personalities along with different skill sets.

Define the Position

Take time to craft a description that describes the nuts and bolts of the position while maintaining some flexibility. Don’t be so specific in your requirements that you scare off excellent candidates by making them question whether there is room for their unique vision. At the same time, don’t be so vague in your job description that you attract everyone and the kitchen sink.

To strike a balance and write a truly powerful job description, explain the role clearly while leaving space for a superstar to bring their own vision and skills to the table.

Describe the Perks

You’re competing with bigger companies (and their bigger budgets) for the same superstar employees. Don’t try to match their shiny, pricey perks. Instead, place the focus on the talent and make sure they know that your small business offers time and attention they won’t get with the big guys.

Some attractive benefits that are likely to bring qualified candidates to your door include:

  • A fresh, unique culture
  • Flexible schedules
  • Telecommuting options
  • Personal attention
  • Discounts for local businesses
  • Opportunity for growth and advancement
  • Working directly with the owner/CEO
  • Profit sharing, if you’re open to it

Focus on Diversity

Building a diverse team enables you to be more innovative — after all, if everyone you work with has the same life experiences as you, how can you get varied ideas?  A diverse team is crucial to growth and creativity, so make sure your job descriptions aren’t limiting your candidate pool.

  • Avoid using pronouns in your job descriptions
  • Ask some initial questions via email, or conduct an initial interview by phone before meeting in person to avoid judging a candidate based on appearance
  • Consider candidates from diverse backgrounds who possess core competencies and transferable skills. They may bring a fresh perspective to your team.

Find the Right Platforms

You’ve crafted a stellar job description — now you need to determine where it will do the most good. One common mistake many small business owners make is spamming their job postings across the Internet and beyond. This is only a good tactic if you thoroughly enjoy sifting through heaps of unqualified applicants.

In fact, you should take as much care in where you place your job listing as you did in creating it. Do your due diligence and be deliberate in your choice of platforms, whether that’s ZipRecruiter, LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.

Of course, make sure you post job listings on your own site, whether or not you allow candidates to apply via job boards. Even if you’re not actively hiring, an invitation to a general submission might net you a superstar — and one who is actively interested in your brand.

Post on Social Media

The most budget-friendly option can easily be the most effective. Meet top talent where they’re hanging out with creative social media posts that let them know you’re hiring. Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram are terrific channels to share your brand’s culture with potential candidates. Ask your existing team to spread the word and share your content, too.

Network It

Professional conferences and training programs are prime ground for talent shopping. Have an “elevator pitch” at the ready, meaning that you should be able to describe your brand, culture, and open positions in 30 seconds or less. Make sure your team knows how to handle initial recruiting, and follow up after the networking event if possible to woo particularly attractive candidates.

Cultivate Work-Life Balance

In an era when go-go-go is the norm, fewer things are more attractive than the quality of life a company can offer. In fact, top talent will often accept lower pay in exchange for a winning work-life balance.

Creating a culture in your small business where employees are valued as people will benefit everyone. A great work environment resounds in the business world, and an existing team of happy employees is just about the best thing around to attract talented candidates who value the same balance.

There are many ways to foster work-life balance that your small business is primed to take advantage of:

  • Encourage employees to telecommute a set number of days per week or month. This allows them to get their work done on those days when they might otherwise call in sick or when they need to care for a sick child.
  • Promote flexible scheduling, also known as flextime. This can come in many forms, but essentially allows your employees to help set their work schedule both in and out of the office.
  • Offer restful areas for a quick power nap. Not a believer in napping at work? It’s been shown to increase productivity.
  • Allow employees to bring pets or children to work on occasion.

These seemingly small steps make a big impact. In fact, studies show that employees are 13 percent more productive when telecommuting than when working in the office. Best of all, word will spread that you value your employees, and that top talent you’re looking for will start looking for you.

Involve Your Team

Everyone on your team can help spread enthusiasm about your brand, and each one of your employees is the central hub of their own social network. If you’re not tapping into that recruiting potential, then you’re missing out on a golden, cost-effective opportunity.

Employee Referrals

If you’ve done your work and built a thriving brand culture that fosters work-life balance, you probably have some great people working for your small business. Birds of a feather flock together, and it’s likely your great employees can send a few stellar candidates your way.

Make everyone a talent scout by offering a bonus for employee referrals that pan out. A financial reward will ensure that your team is always recruiting top talent for your brand while saving you the hassle of sifting through resumes.

Hire from Within

Your most passionate employees still want opportunities for advancement. When creating or filling new positions, don’t assume the top candidates are on the outside looking in.

Promoting from within your own small business benefits you in more ways than one. You gain loyalty and enthusiasm from an existing employee while also building trust in new hires, ensuring that there is room for growth and advancement in your organization. In fact, a recent survey showed that 21 percent of small business owners use the opportunity for advancement as a point to attract major talent.

Nobody wants to stagnate. Show what you have to offer potential candidates, whether that’s room to develop and practice new skills or a stepping stone to positions of greater responsibility.

Be the Top Talent

You can’t build a passionate, talented, and driven team if you’re not willing to do the work yourself. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a seasoned small business owner, it’s vital that you continually hone your own skills if you want to attract top-notch recruits.

This includes putting your best foot forward during the recruiting and interviewing process. Be responsive at all times, prepare for interviews, and make sure your team is enthusiastic about bringing new talent on board.

Polish Your Interviewing Skills

If you’re asking candidates the same questions they’ve been asked by every other hiring manager for the past five years, you’re not doing anyone any favors.

Consider experimenting with your interviewing process. Instead of relying on the standard office interview, consider taking a promising candidate out to lunch. If you’ve always favored one-on-one interviews, try letting potential hires interview with other employees. You’ll get a better sense of how candidates resonate with your trusted team, who can then provide you with a more balanced assessment of your candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

Be Open to New Ideas

Hiring and retaining a talented team is always going to be one of your greatest challenges as a small business owner. If you’re having more failures than successes, you might need to polish up on your recruiting methods.

Take some time to make sure you’re not relying on out-of-date platforms. Get advice and perspective from professional peers and other business owners to determine how you can improve your talent scouting. Finally, be willing to consult with professionals to make your recruiting efforts more successful.

Wrapping It Up

Your team is your most valuable asset, so make sure to be mindful as you do your recruiting.  Craft a comprehensive job description, be deliberate in how you share it, and make sure that your business is a place that people will want to work.  While it can be easy to be intimidated as you are trying to recruit the same talent as the big guys, don’t forget that your business has a lot of benefits that larger companies simply can’t provide.  There are talented individuals out there who would benefit from being a part of your company — you just need to find them.

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Written by BBB Staff

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