Small businesses are considered the backbone of the U.S. economy. However, hiring the right talent is the biggest challenge most small companies face. With fewer resources than larger companies, small- to medium-sized firms must find creative ways to recruit qualified candidates. However, being a smaller business can also be a tremendous advantage.

This blog post explores effective recruiting strategies that small businesses can use to source and retain the right candidates. Learn targeted approaches to promote the advantages of working for a small business and how these methods can be used to recruit top talent.  

Personalize the hiring process to find top talent

One advantage to being a small business? You can make the hiring experience more personalized. A poor interview experience is a huge turn-off for potential candidates. LinkedIn shares that by personalizing the hiring process, you show potential applicants you value them and their time. Forming relationships with qualified candidates during recruitment can also give you an advantage over larger competitors.

For example, smaller businesses may be better able to update applicants about what is happening during the hiring process and continue to check in with them—even if there is no new news to share. Research your potential candidate’s background and design custom messages incorporating that information. Where are they from? What are their hobbies? Infusing these small details into a message will create a meaningful experience for potential applicants and make them feel valued and listened to.

Similarly, use creative approaches to reach out to top talent in your community. Use recruiting strategies like local networking events, niche job boards, social media, and good old-fashioned solicitation. Remember, personalization must also include diversity. Develop campaigns that promote inclusivity and be sure to use gender and ethnicity-neutral images.

Provide unique employee perks

To attract top talent, small businesses can offer a high-quality benefits package as part of their recruiting strategies. However, the advantage of being a small firm is that you can also provide creative perks. Consider adding flexible hours, remote options, and other special benefits unique to your organization. According to Business News Daily, here are other unique perks your small business may want to consider:

  • In-house professional development, such as management training programs, conferences, continuing education programs, and other training workshops
  • Free books and e-books
  • Student loan pay-downs
  • Pet-friendly offices

These recruiting strategies and options cost very little, but they help distinguish you as an employer and show your company values work–life balance. Make sure to emphasize these perks in publicly posted job descriptions and across social media platforms to recruit top talent.

Highlight your company culture

According to Business News Daily, employees prioritize company culture and values above the cost of a salary. Small-to-medium-sized businesses can benefit from this by using their story and shared purpose to attract top talent. It’s important to zero in on what makes your company culture special and a rewarding place to work. Employees want to know how they can find fulfillment in their work, according to McKinsey. Show how your small business has the resources to focus on its employee needs from day one. 

Another effective recruiting strategy is to ask your current staff why they enjoy working at your organization. Ask questions such as why they work for a small business and examples of how they find their work fulfilling. Once the information is gathered, share this personalized story to connect with potential candidates. A LinkedIn survey emphasizes the value of sharing your unique company story across social media channels and the company website. 

Small businesses should also consider highlighting other factors that separate them from larger companies. Focus on something as simple as a volunteer project your company takes part in or an innovative initiative like your green business practices. Review your company’s social media presence and ensure the content, copy, and tone convey your culture and values. These small business recruiting strategies will help find the best talent and help potential employees evaluate their fit.

Source passive job seekers

Another effective recruiting strategy for small businesses is to source passive job seekers. Passive job seekers may not be actively looking for a job but may be interested in hearing about how a smaller company could meet their needs. Recruiting passive candidates requires more research—like attending events, scouring social networks, or searching through targeted websites.

Though this process takes more time than using recruiting software, building relationships with qualified applicants will ensure you can quickly fill open positions with great candidates when the opportunity arises. Strategies from SHRM to source passive candidates include:

  • Evaluate current and projected staffing needs. Conduct a staffing assessment to identify current and anticipated gaps in the company’s workforce.
  • Update employee referral programs. Consider comparing your plan against other successful small business employee referral programs. Visit your competitors’ career websites and social media to research how you can improve your program. Remember to emphasize referral bonuses in your plan. 
  • Get creative. Run your job postings where your applicants spend their time—which can mean doing things differently than you have in the past. Consider using services like Pandora or Spotify if those are where potential applicants spend time. Smaller retail companies with in-store Wi-Fi access can use it to reach passive job candidates. When someone signs in to access a store’s free Wi-Fi connection, employment messages that link to the company’s career site can be programmed to appear during sign-on. 

Expand your geographic search 

According to Forbes, the pandemic forced small businesses to adapt to the new workplace climate creatively. Many small business owners are now finding success by shifting work online. Consider if remote work is possible for any open positions on your team. Searching outside an immediate city or region could open your small business up to exponentially more qualified candidates. Monster has a few ideas for hiring remotely, including:

  • Add a link to an introductory video to your job posting. This move creates an opportunity to make a powerful first impression to attract qualified applicants.
  • Outline remote expectations. Discuss topics such as work time zones, virtual meetings, or hybrid options.
  • Expand the interview process. A small business owner may need multiple interviews instead to pick up on nuances more discernible in person. Conduct activities like administering a pre-interview assessment or providing a virtual tour of your company and operations.

From personalizing the hiring process to expanding your geographic search, small-to-medium-sized companies can capitalize on their strengths by taking creative recruitment approaches to expand their talent pool. With these robust recruiting strategies, small businesses hire quality candidates who understand the unique benefits of working for a smaller company. 

Want to learn how one of InVista’s clients was able to cut turnover in half and triple staff tenure? Check out this case study.


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