by Nick Murphy, career expert and founder of The Job Lab Podcast
As a small business owner, you’re living proof that the American Dream is still alive and well. You’ve taken the risks, made few enough mistakes to successfully grow your business and now you find yourself fully engaged in a war for the kind of talent that will take your business to the next level.
Small companies face unique challenges that larger organizations simply don’t have. You probably don’t have a large HR team (or even a single HR person), your recruiting “budget” likely comes straight out of your operating revenue and your recruiting process is, let’s say, a work in progress.
While it may seem like an impossible task to lure the kind of talent you’ll need to attract to meet your growth goals, there are ways that you can successfully recruit A-players to your growing company.
The first thing that any hiring manger or business owner needs to understand about attracting talent is what today’s job seekers care about. According to a recent PwC survey, candidates’ career decisions revolve primarily around three things: opportunity for career growth, earning a competitive wage, and the availability of flexible or alternative work arrangements.
Let’s identify the advantages that small companies have in these areas and learn how you can leverage this information to improve your employment brand and make your company’s offer the one your target talent accepts!
Opportunities for Career Growth.
With the job market nearing full employment, today’s job seekers have options. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the thing many potential candidates want to know most is how your opportunity can move their career goals forward. Whether they’re looking to move from a sales rep into management, add new areas of responsibility to their role, or add new skills to their resume, everyone wants to move forward.
Inside large organizations, bureaucracy, seniority and office politics can make this advancement challenging if not impossible. As a small business, you’re almost certainly more nimble than most big companies. If you can learn to focus on your unique advantages, you’ll be able to craft a story and employment brand that highlights the opportunities your roles offer. Effectively communicating the opportunity for upward mobility to potential candidates will help them understand that by joining your company they will more quickly and efficiently expand their skillsets and responsibilities to move their careers forward.
Example: Through this position at ACME Inc., you’ll be exposed to multiple aspects of our business where you’ll actively engage with senior leadership and gain insights into the operations of multiple business units. As a small firm, we empower our employees to learn as much as they can about the areas of our business that interest them so that they’ll be well-positioned to advance their careers and make an impact here very early on.
Unsurprisingly, all candidates want to be paid what they’re worth. This isn’t greed, it’s common sense. But every dollar counts in a small business, and paying the same or more than your talent competitors isn’t always possible. However, the amount you pay your people should be driven by the market. And today’s market is a seeker’s market, meaning that submitting low-ball offers to great people is a big mistake.
While it can be a painful realization that you may need to dish out more money that you originally planned, the cost of training and developing talent that leaves to earn more elsewhere is far more expensive.
As a small company your time is as precious as your money. If the owner or another senior member of your team is involved in training and mentoring a new hire that leaves, not only did you lose that employee, but you spent a leader’s time, energy and contribution on a person than can no longer impact the business.
If you need to access current compensation information, I encourage you to do a search for the same job online or visit a site like PayScale.com to understand the current market rate for your jobs.
Availability of Alterative Work Arrangements.
In today’s connected world, employers are running out of excuses to chain their employees to a desk for 40 hours per week. In most companies, at least some of the jobs could easily accommodate a flex arrangement of some kind.
Alternative work arrangements can take many forms. Some of the most common and attractive flexible work arrangements include ½ day Fridays, working “Four 10’s” (ten hours per day, four days per week) and remote, or work from home, opportunities.
The specific form your flex arrangement takes isn’t important. What is important is that you understand how meaningful a flex work schedule it is to potential employees and include it as a part of your candidate messaging if you decide to offer one.
Putting it All Together.
There’s no doubt that small businesses have some distinct challenges attracting and retaining top talent. But with a deep understanding of what job seekers value most and an investment of time identifying how to use your size to your advantage, the savvy small business owner can create a highly attractive message that competes with larger brands, engages their ideal hires and grows their business.
Nick Murphy is the host of The Job Lab Podcast, an NFL veteran, experienced HR Tech entrepreneur, speaker and frequent contributor on topics related to jobs and careers. His corporate experience includes award-winning tenures at three of the world’s largest job sites: CareerBuilder, Monster, and Indeed.com and starting his own thought leadership and career consulting services business, Job Spot in 2014 and Mid-America Careers in 2017.