5 Ways Small Businesses Can Compete for Top Talent

Worried you’re losing great talent to the big corporations in your space? Take a look at how your small business can compete against the big players.


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Recruiting can be hard – and it gets even harder when you’re a small company who has to compete against the big corporations in your space. 
Before you give up on landing top-tier talent, however, it’s important to know that small businesses and start-ups have some great assets to flaunt, too. Take a look at how your small business can compete against the big players.

#1 – Offer Benefits that Big Companies Can’t Afford

Free food. 401K match. Flexible work arrangements. Employer-sponsored health benefits.
These are benefits that employees want and consider as a part of their compensation package. However, big name companies with thousands of employees can’t always afford to give employees what they want. But smaller companies can.
In fact, while most insurers require employers to pay at least 50 percent of the health insurance premium for employees, small businesses actually contribute more than the minimum, according to a 2017 research report from Zenefits. The report, which surveyed more than 8,000 small businesses, found that small business employers pay for an average of 73% of an employee’s individual health plan, and contribute an average of 38% for an employee’s dependents.
[Download Now]: Zenefits Small Business Benchmark Report
“Great employers tend to give employees options, and they often contribute generously. They are working hard to help employees find the best possible benefits programs for their families,” said Josh Bersin, principal and founder, Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

#2 – Use Your Brand to Differentiate Yourself

What does your brand stand for? Are you environmentally-friendly? Are you vocal around social issues? These are the type of questions you should ask yourself in order to give your business a sense of identity and brand.
You also want to align your brand with your target talent market. For example, if you’re a tech start-up that anticipates employees working long hours (beyond the typical 9 to 5), you may want to look for a workforce that’s willing to work long hours to gain experience. Perhaps your brand will have a “Work hard, play hard” culture.
On the flip side, if your company values work-life balance – make that clear, too.
“Small companies need to craft their employer brand messaging in a way that immediately sets them apart from the competition,” notes Entrepreneur. For example, Entrepreneur explains that “a big part of this is catering to job-seekers with families, because they make up a large portion of the talent market.”

#3 – Implement an Employee Referral Program

Do you have rockstar employees who you just want to replicate? How about the next best thing – a candidate that they handpick?
Employee referrals are a great way to get like-minded employees with similar work ethic and experience into your business. And when you give employees an incentive – like a referral bonus – they’ll be motivated to help you find the perfect fit.
What’s more, getting an employee referral also means less time and money spent on HR and recruiting efforts.
“Employee referral programs are also more cost-effective than other recruiting strategies and often are the fastest way to find external talent,” according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). And cost-savings isn’t the only perk. “Employee-referred new hires tend to be better performers than non-employee-referred new hires and to stay with their organizations longer,” adds SHRM.

#4 – Take Advantage of the Small Business Tech Coalition

Thanks to technology, businesses no longer need to rely on manpower for their day-to-day business operations. Instead, they can use intuitive software to help them streamline their business, cut costs, and focus their attention elsewhere – like attracting top talent.
However, not all businesses are keen or have an understanding of how technology can help their business.
“Technology plays a central role in how businesses today start, operate and grow,” notes the Small Business Association (SBA). “Yet the latest research shows that more than half do not have a website, measure the results of their marketing or have a social media account. Only about half use digital tools to help with their business accounting.”
If your company falls into this bucket, it’s time to embrace technology – and the Small Business Tech Coalition can help with that.
“The Small Business Technology Coalition is committed to helping small businesses leverage technology as a core driver of growth and differentiation. That means increasing digital education and training to Launch, Grow, Manage, and Win their business,” notes the SBA.

#5 – Make a Great First Impression

First impressions are everything, and it’s especially true for interviews. But don’t be fooled by the nervous energy coming from the interviewee. Candidates are interviewing you just as much as you’re interviewing them.
From the moment a candidate walks through the door, they’re analyzing everything: The music that’s playing in reception, the office layout, employee interactions, and the demeanor of their interviewers. They’re assessing whether or not you’re company is casual and fun, or stiff and serious.
[Related Content]Interview Bootcamp: 4 Hiring Tips to Help Your Team Recruit Top Talent
And while big corporations typically have a regimented recruitment and interviewing program already in place, small businesses have the flexibility to really showcase their personality and culture during the interview process.
For example: Instead of back-to-back interviews in an office, you can have have interviews in different formats and styles – like a coffee or lunch chat, sitting in on a relevant meeting, or chatting while playing ping pong, pool, or foosball!
Click here to learn about the benefits you can offer to help recruit the best talent. 


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