Small Business Recruiting – Competing With the Big Guys for Talent

It’s difficult for small businesses to compete directly with large companies for top-notch talent. So why try to take them head on? There is more than one way to win the recruiting game. Follow these tips and you will soon have the big guys asking you for advice on how to successfully recruit talent in this ever-changing economy.

Develop Your Niche

Many successful small businesses have figured out that the way to compete with large companies is to develop a niche. The same holds true when it comes to hiring talent.

Your company must have at least one thing that the bigger companies don’t have. Identify this distinction and use it to compete. For example, are your employees empowered to make decisions without going through three layers of management? Do you give employees a day off during the week to attend college classes so they can obtain their degrees? Make sure everyone knows what differentiates you from the rest of the pack.

Consider the Culture

Sure, the big guys have the money to throw at people, but you’d be surprised at how many people would turn down the money for the opportunity to work in a smaller, more personal environment that is both stimulating and fun.

A big advantage of working in a small company is that you don’t have to go down four layers to speak directly with your staff. Take advantage of this situation. Ask your employees for feedback on the work environment, and wherever possible make changes to improve the environment. Word will get out quickly that your company is one for which people want to work. Before long, you will have people knocking on your door.

Market Yourself

You buy a product because you like the way it’s packaged. More times than not, it’s all in the marketing. The same holds true in recruiting. People form opinions early on when looking at companies. Make sure they are forming the right opinion about yours.

Take a look at the way your jobs and company are packaged. Start with your Web site. If you were cruising the Web and you happened to come across your site, would you stop to take another look?

Most Web sites are plain vanilla. In order to get noticed, you need to stand out. Try the following:

· Personalize your Web site. Include pictures of your work force.

· Ask employees to write testimonials on why they choose to work for your company.

· Have employees describe interesting projects that they have worked on.

· Make it easy for people to apply online even if they don’t have resumes. After all, many top candidates are not actively seeking jobs and therefore may not have updated resumes.

Be sure your Web site reflects your environment. A well-maintained Web site can be a powerful weapon.

Be Flexible

Sometimes it seems like we are all going after the same talent. But there are groups of capable, educated people out there who are often forgotten. The part-timers. The people who dedicate part of their lives to raising a family, doing philanthropic work, or pursuing a dream. These people are very committed to their cause and will be very committed to you if you give them a chance to use their abilities in a non-traditional way.

Set up programs like job sharing, flextime and telecommuting and make them a part of your culture. You will find that people are more than willing to exchange higher salaries for flexibility in the workplace. You will also find that this part of your work force will be highly loyal to you because they know there are few employers who actually walk this talk.

Letting Go

It’s hard to let go of the reins but people want to feel like they have a direct impact in the day-to-day operations of their company. Loosen up some of the control and let your employees step up to the plate. You’d be surprised how many balls get hit out of the park once you step aside.

Competing for talent takes more than money. The smart player will be the one who comes up with the winning strategy. Yes, some people can be bought, but is that really the type of person you want on your team?