You’ve scoured LinkedIn, gone to every uncomfortable networking event within a 100 mile radius, and you’re starting to consider selling one of your kidneys for a couple decent resumes.
You are officially falling down the endless rabbit hole of recruiting.
But wait…could it be? No, it couldn’t. Unless…
YES. YOU’VE FOUND IT.
The elusive, formerly intangible, absolutely impeccable candidate.
They’re pleasant, confident, experienced. They’re prompt, polite and their handshake fills you with hope. Their technical knowledge is sublime; their personality is even better. You get that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with finishing puzzles and falling in love.
But wait…if you think this person is downright ideal for the job, chances are…someone else does too.
Don’t panic! Here’s how to get the candidate of your dreams to come work for you.
Self-Examine What You Offer
If you’re going to be presenting your company as a great place to work, you should probably be able to back that up.
Use this as motivation to look inward and determine whether you’re building a business people want to work for.
What are the main things that set us apart from other companies?
How flexible are we when it comes to job perks?
Are our employees generally happy and excited to come to work?
Are we building a great company or treading water?
Is there potential for new and existing employees to grow?
Your company isn't perfect, but when talking to a potential candidate, the best thing you can do is know your company’s strengths and weaknesses back to front.
Engage With The Potential Candidate
Now that you’ve done some reflecting, take a new, invigorated approach to promoting your company as a dynamite place to work.
Here are a couple ways to do this:
Totally Immerse The Candidate – To ensure that they get a real glimpse into life at your business, why not give them an assignment to try out your product? Allowing them to intimately know what you’re selling will help them feel involved, avoid any surprises and it demonstrates the quality of your merchandise!
Customize The Experience – There is nothing more unnerving than feeling like you’re just a number. Personalize your interactions with the applicant; really get to know their story and make sure it is clear just how invested you are in the process. Also, why not give them a guided tour of your wonderful facilities while they’re there?
Use a Buddy System – Pair the candidate with someone they’d be working closely with so they can build rapport and ask questions. Meeting the team involves the candidate in a more unique and genuine way than a regular or panel interview, and can help foster positivity and respect.
Indicate The Potential for High Growth – In small businesses, employees typically have more ownership and responsibilities than those at big companies. They also tend to have closer and better relationships with executives and team leaders, which can lead to upward mobility. Discussing these concepts with the candidate will help exhibit what you can offer that big companies can't.
Move Quickly -- If you know this is the right person, don’t hesitate. The enemy of recruiting is delaying. Contact them on the same day of their final interview if you can! Let them know they are your favorite, and the best person for the job. This will show how excited you are about them possibly joining your biz, and will probably relieve some of their stress.
Don’t Play Games
You want to portray your company in a certain light, but there is a fine line between marketing your business and leaving out key details that a candidate needs to know to make an informed decision.
Think long-term: Sure, on a first date you might leave out how much your mom calls you or how you have to do everything in 3’s, but those things are going to come up if enough time passes.
Be honest with your candidate. They will appreciate it, and it will inevitably lead to an employee that truly thrives in the environment you’ve created.
Have a Coveted Company Culture
Company culture frequently wrestles with salary when it comes to the deciding factor in a candidate’s decision. In fact, it often comes out on top.
Eighty-seven percent of workers desire an employer that truly considers their well-being, according to a study by Monster.com and Unum, compared to 66% who rated a high base salary as their priority. Basically, people want a place that really cares about them, a place that offers gratification and opportunities for development.
In order to get your company culture to come out on top:
Offer Solid Benefits
To provide great benefits, companies need to do some serious financial planning. This can keep a lot of small business owners up at night.
Most decent benefits packages aren’t exactly easy on the wallet, with costs subject to rise as a result of numerous, often uncontrollable, factors. Businesses are legally required to provide benefits, but top-notch benefits go a long way.
It is easier to recruit top talent when word gets out that you offer a sturdy, competitive package.
Top-of-the-line packages usually consist of:
Health Insurance – Most commonly a choice between a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), which allows you and your employees to go to doctors within a specific network, or a Preferred Provider Option (PPO), which is slightly more flexible and might still provide coverage for a doctor outside of their network. This flexibility usually comes with a higher premium, however.
Dental Insurance – Not required by law, so brownie points if you offer it! Companies will commonly offer full or partially funded plans to cover its employee’s costs.
401(K) Retirement Plans – Offering a 401(K) in general is a great benefit, as it comes with a tax deduction and is a great way to increase employee retention. Offering a 401(K) match is even better, if it makes financial sense.
PTO (Paid Time Off) – A low-cost benefit, and a no brainer. Even if you can’t offer much, this is a very dynamic addition to your package. You can adapt it as you see fit; a pretty standard amount is two weeks per calendar year, and some companies simply leave it up to their employees to decide.
Get Creative With Perks
Benefits don’t always have to come in an official package, especially if you're tight on funds. Start by thinking about your employees’ every day needs as people, and go from there.
Make The World Your Office – With the abundance of remote abilities we have today, why chain your employees to their desks? Let them roam free, draw inspiration from wherever they decide to work, and reap the benefits. Conference calls from a villa in Tuscany? Sure. Managing the cloud from some beach without a cloud in the sky? Why not.
Work Hard, Play Hard – make sure there are places your employees can go when they need a break. Whether this means a pool table, a chess board, video games, or even a mini-golf course, your team should be encouraged to step away from their desks and take some time to unwind.
Wellness - Healthy people are happy, productive employees. Offer lunchtime yoga, get a company team together and join a sports league, or purchase pedometers to ignite some friendly office competition. A lot of companies subsidize gym memberships, but why not take it a step further and help pay for things like races or fitness challenges. If you make healthy choices accessible and easy, your employees will thrive.
Refreshments - Being generous when it comes to food and drink will not go unnoticed or unappreciated, and is a pretty cheap way to get a lot of love. From an all-you-can-eat conveyer belt of snacks to a 24-7 on tap keg, food at the office is a win-win. If providing endless snacks isn’t an option, try doing something weekly like Ice Cream Fridays or Hot Dog Tuesdays.
Encourage Philanthropy – A lot of times, people don’t volunteer because they are simply too busy. If you institute some kind of charitable giving or employee volunteer program, it shows that you care both about your team and your community. People are proud to work at a place with solid values, and it creates a very cohesive environment. Arrange a trip to a local soup kitchen, or even give employees additional PTO to do some volunteering on their own time.
Freebies – You don’t have to be a kid to love getting a gift bag. People of all ages love free stuff. One off perks like a Netflix subscription, tickets to sports events, or tech products like Kindles or iPads can be a fantastic way to recognize employee’s hard work (or a great way to kick off their employment!), and won’t be too hard on your budget.
Keep Your Mission and Brand Consistent
No one likes a flaky business that’s all over the place, whether they are customers or employees.
Your internal culture should emulate your personal brand and your company’s mission. Try initiating a recognition program in the office to reward your employees when they incorporate and embody these values in their life and work.
This appreciation will show through to your candidate, and make your business stand out.
Negotiating a salary doesn’t have to be an awkward dance. If you’re a small business, the likelihood that you can compete with an offer from the Googles or Amazons of the world is quite small.
The best thing you can do when faced with a discussion of compensation is to be up front. Expect that the candidate has done their research, and respect them.
Applicants want to feel appreciated; you can always renegotiate a number, especially if you have successfully marketed your perks and benefits.
Research– Before entering any negotiations, do your homework. Get the skinny on any ongoing salary trends and find out what you’re competitors are offering. You can use sites like Glassdoor where people anonymously post things like salaries and reviews, or check out Salary.com for best practices.
Start With The Benefits – continue to drive home all the benefits and perks of the job, and then pull in salary numbers. This will remind them that the value of your offer cannot be measured by a number alone.
Bring In Outside Help – A lot of small businesses, when faced with salary negotiations, will use equity compensation to enrich the benefits package. In other words, they will offer employees a percentage of company profits instead of a higher salary (or any salary at all). Want to know if equity is right for you? Check out our guide.
Make Sure They Understand Everything – Negotiating can be very overwhelming, and candidates will often ask for time to consider your offer. This is fine, and normal. What you don’t want is for them to leave with a bunch of unanswered questions or apprehensions. Don’t be afraid to ask if they need clarification or inquire about what they really think of your offer.
Stress Employee Ownership - As mentioned before, small businesses are a place where employees have the freedom to really thrive. Really emphasize to the candidate that they have a lot more control over development, both company-wise and in their own personal career. You can’t put a price tag on that!
Keep Up the Great Work and Candidates Will Come to You
So there it is – hopefully with this little guide you’ll be able to woo the socks off your dream candidate. If not, don’t fret! There are plenty of fish in the recruiting river. Just remember to stay strong, be your authentic self, and honesty is definitely the best policy.
Your Turn: Have you recruited any rockstar candidates? What was your strategy for getting them to sign on?