How to Attract Top Talent when you're a small business

How to Attract Top Talent When You’re a Small Business

Every Thursday, we bring you Endless Recruitment: tried and tested recruitment strategies to attract, interview and select your future star performers.

Do you ever feel like you’re constantly trying to compete for talent with large corporations? And getting left in the dust? You’re not located in a fancy downtown building, you don’t have fancy offices, or top-of-the-line benefits. Heck, you don’t even pay that well.

Does that mean you have to settle for less-than-stellar candidates?

Absolutely not!

Here’s the thing… the talent pool is wide and deep. No matter what job you’re hiring for, there’s someone perfect out there for you. Your job is to go and find that perfect person.

The things that I keep hearing over and over again from clients, especially those that are located outside of the downtown cores of cities is “nobody wants to work here” or “we only attract a certain demographic” or “young people don’t want to work in our sleepy little town; they want to go where the excitement is”

If your company is in suburbia, chances are you’ve said (or at least thought) the same things at one time or another. The truth is, you’re not entirely wrong. Getting top talent at smaller companies, particularly those located outside the downtown core, is harder.

Which is why you need to work a little extra hard to attract that top talent. With a few small tweaks and some incredibly easy hacks to your hiring process, you can not only get people to apply for your jobs, but you can also successfully target your ideal candidate on sites like LinkedIn.

Size Matters (but not in the way you think)

Believe it or not, your biggest advantage in the recruitment process is your size. I’ve worked at large companies and, let me tell you, it is incredibly difficult for them to quickly change hiring practices and tactics. They have set processes, set systems, and some serious red tape they have to wade through.

As a small business, with most likely one decision-maker, you’re nimbler when making changes. Now, this isn’t true of all companies. I’ve worked at small companies where change was incredibly difficult. And if that describes your company, then you’ll need to tackle that before anything else (and that’s for another blog post). That nimbleness works to your advantage when attracting top talent.

The #1 Universal Truth about High Achievers

Here’s how: it’s a universal truth that high achievers and top performers like to get things done. They like to complete projects and if things take too long, they lose interest. Fast. That’s the one advantage you can play up, and you should play it up BIG. Right on your job posting. Tell potential applicants how many projects you completed last year. Tell them how engaged a person in that job was in a high-profile project. Where possible, put in dollar amounts to show magnitude of the project. That will pique interest.

The #2 Universal Truth about High Achievers

Here’s another universal truth about high achievers: they like autonomy. So, while you’re playing up your fact-paced environment, also play up the fact that your reporting structure is virtually flat. Again, if you don’t have a flat reporting structure (i.e. no more than 3 levels deep), then you need to examine why and tackle that before you try to attract top talent. But if you have a relatively flat structure, tell people that. And tell them that you not only value decisive people but expect people at all levels to make decisions in the best interest of the company.

Job Postings are Ads – write them like you write sales copy

If you’re in business, then you’re selling something. Whether that’s a service or a product, you’re in business because you have something to sell. Your business exists solely based on your ability to sell. Employees are like sales. You need them to keep and build your business. Some companies need sales people to sell more.

Which is why I still don’t understand why companies write their job postings like military or legal documents. Think about a sales page or advertisement for your product or service. Would you ever list the features of your product and the ideal customer profile on your ads? So, why do we insist on writing “Responsibilities” and “Qualifications” on our job postings?

As soon as you start thinking of Job Postings as Ads for your company, you’ll change the calibre of candidates you hire. You could be located in Antarctica and still get quality candidates to apply for your job if you have the right marketing strategy. And, no, you don’t have to pay them seven figures a year either.

Treat your potential employees like something of real value, talk to them like they’re something of value. Stop talking to potential candidates like you’re doing them a favour by giving them the opportunity to apply for your job. Make the job posting so exciting that they want to work for you.

So, the next time you write a job posting, forget about including a laundry list of qualifications and job responsibilities. Sell them on your job opening. Sell them on your company. Sell them on the Unique Selling Proposition of working for your company.

Want me to review your newly minted job ad? Drop me a line so I can give you pointers!

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