All companies, regardless of size, want to recruit top-notch candidates for their open positions. But it can be tough to contend with larger companies who enjoy a sizable hiring advantage over small businesses and startups. After all, bigger businesses have the resources to easily offer hefty salaries, career advancement opportunities, enticing benefits and perks, and beautiful, centrally-located offices.
But that doesn't mean that your small-but-mighty company should settle for average hires. Here are a few of the manageable but effective ways that smaller businesses can compete with larger corporations for the best candidates.
Show Off Your Brand Online
The first time an applicant hears about your small company is usually in the application process itself. A candidate won’t have any preconceived notions about your company like they would about Coca Cola or Disney. This means that you need to make a good first impression in the place where candidates are most likely to encounter you: online.
The most obvious place to start is your website. Your website isn’t just a place to attract potential customers; your candidates will also be visiting your website to decide if they want to work there. Does your website convey your company’s goals and mission clearly, or is it vague? Do you have a basic career page where you list open positions? A great website makes a fantastic first impression and can prove to potential candidates that your small business is ripe with potential. On the flip side, a poorly-executed, disjointed website won’t just turn-off clients. It’ll send possible applicants running too.
The online space isn’t limited to your website. Social media is another place candidates go to learn more about a company. Many small businesses, especially in the B2B sphere, ignore social media because they find it frustrating and unrewarding. However, it’s important to remember that social media is not just a platform to find potential customers. Job seekers are vetting your business on social media. They are almost certainly checking out your company and your employees’ presences on LinkedIn. They may also check Facebook, Twitter, Google, and other platforms.
More and more job seekers are also checking Glassdoor to learn about a company's work culture. Quality of life really means a lot to candidates these days. Did you know that over two-thirds of people would refuse a job with a poorly-perceived company, even if they were unemployed? Ask your current employees to leave company reviews on Glassdoor to help showcase the type of culture you have to offer.
Spend a couple days boosting your online presence before you start your next big search for a new hire. If you don’t have an in-house team to revamp your website, you can always hire freelancers to bring your vision to life. And your social media presence doesn’t have to be nonstop—it just needs to be consistent.
Leverage Your Small Size as an Asset
As a small business, you may be able to provide benefits that large companies simply cannot. Imagine if an office with 2,500 employees allowed dogs in the workplace! But an office of a dozen or so employees could easily get a pooch-friendly clause written into their lease.
Small businesses can also offer unrivaled face time with company CEOs, clients, and vendors. This can be very attractive to some ambitious candidates who want to be able to learn a lot and wear many hats.
Other perks your business might want to consider offering include:
- Ability to work remotely, either a couple days a week, as-needed, or altogether
- Unlimited vacation
- Flexible work hours and a commitment to work-life balance
If your business is growing rapidly, then you can offer world-class talent the opportunity to get in on the ground floor. Some small businesses might even be able to offer equity to great hires. And don’t forget that to many job seekers, small companies are actually a more attractive option because of the elements that are only possible at that size, so don’t be afraid to play them up in your job descriptions.
Maintain a Professional and Efficient Hiring Process
Bigger businesses often have formal, well-executed, and remarkably lengthy hiring processes. As a small business, you can still utilize a multifaceted, professional approach to hiring.
Here are a few ways to make a great impression during the hiring process:
- Ensure job postings are thoughtful, particular, and clear. They should look as good as your bigger competitors’ postings. Include logos and company colors in these postings when possible. (Read up on some tips on writing great job descriptions.)
- Verify all communication with candidates is professional. Your business can still maintain its casual vibe while proving it takes pride in its hiring process.
- Make sure candidates are comfortable during interviews. If there’s no good place to hold a private interview at your office or coworking space, you might want to look into renting a conference room at a coworking space. Have a restroom and beverages available for your candidate.
- Ask your candidates to take a pre-employment test. This will not only improve your own hiring outcomes, but will also show potential employees you take recruitment, placement, and advancement seriously.
One benefit of being a smaller company is that you can often make hiring decisions faster because your team is more agile. This is a huge advantage. Bigger companies may risk losing out on their top candidates by putting them through an overly long hiring process, giving smaller companies an opportunity to sneak in with a competitive offer.
Remember, your company isn’t the only one doing the interviewing. Great candidates are looking at every aspect of your brand very closely when deciding where to work.
No matter how small your business is, commit to preparing your brand for its close-up. Invest in a great online presence. Create attractive perks for potential employees when you can. And, of course, put your best foot forward during recruitment. Hopefully, you’ll be knee-deep in stand-out resumes in no time.