When you have a digital stack of resumes in your inbox, it’s tempting to lose perspective. You’re the business owner. You’re the chief. The hiring manager. The person guarding the gates to employment. Rather than care about how your company looks to the best possible hires out there, you’re concerned with whittling down your own list of candidates.
But making great hires isn’t only about narrowing down the pool of prospective hires. You also have to attract great applicants in the first place. And as a small business, you’ll have to compete with major companies to find the top talent in your field of need. You can’t expect to attract top talent without earning it.
How do you make your small business stand out in the same way an applicant wants their resume to stand out? Here are a few tips:
Build a Professional Presence Before You Hire Professionals
No matter what you’re looking for in your next hire, chances are that the word “professional” is involved somewhere. You want a professional head of accounting, a professional digital marketer—not someone who’s just starting out in the industry and has no idea how the professional world works.
So, let’s apply the golden rule here: you should exude the very qualities that you want to hire.
That means building a more professional presence for your company, including:
- A professional electronic presence. That includes a great website, a toll-free business phone number (ahem), and a call answering system that shows there’s an actual office there somewhere. You don’t want a prospective hire Googling your company and thinking, “oh, boy…this is a real fixer-upper.”
- Responsiveness. Set up call forwarding with Grasshopper to ensure that your potential hires can reach you in a timely fashion. Manage your dashboard with a service like ZipRecruiter. Be intentional about the way you go about the hiring process; don’t just put out an ad and wait for the emails to roll in. Make it known that you’re part of the process and that you consider each and every hire to be as important as the last.
- Physical presence. Look around. How does your company look when someone steps in the door? Does it look like a great place to work, or does the mere sight of your reception area instill fear into the heart of job applicants?
Accentuate Your Positives, Even If They’re Small
You’re a small business—a smaller bottom line than the big Fortune 500 companies is part of the deal. You can’t offer benefits packages made out of solid gold or access to the company’s private jet.
But you can still accentuate the great things about working for a small business like yours. When the Wall Street Journal put together a guide for attracting top-tier talent to a small company, they pointed out the following advantages built in to small businesses:
- Flexibility. You don’t have a giant stack of HR documents to make every open position into a cookie cutter job. You’re open to feedback. You can give them control and responsibilities these prospective hires wouldn’t have anywhere else.
- Growth opportunity. “Getting in on the ground floor” is a tagline so ubiquitous that it borders on cliché. And like so many clichés, it’s true. You can offer potential recruits growth opportunities. The more tenure they have in your company, the more likely they are to grow their career as the company itself grows.
How do you accentuate these benefits? Have a brochure drawn up and list ten benefits to working for your company. This makes a great hand-out for job interviews, job fairs, and corporate events, helping you get the word out about why it might be appealing to come in to your office every weekday.
Go Where the Talent Is—Especially Online
If you go fishing in the same exact spot every single day and expect different results, it’s your fault when your lines come up empty. The same logic holds up when hiring great talent: you have to first figure out where the talent is.
The digital world makes this easier than ever. Here are just a few tools for identifying the right talent:
- Indeed. You can sort candidates by your location or even mention that you want to create a remote job. Either way, Indeed puts your company in front of some of the top talent in the industry. If you want to get noticed, you only have to pay more for preferred status—which fits even within the budget of a small business like yours.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn is the go-to social networking site for professionals, and it’s no surprise that it’s also a hub for finding and recruiting talent. Post your position to LinkedIn Jobs and you can easily identify the profiles of major-league talent from across the world.
Pay Attention to Your “Hiring Brand”
Just as you strive to create an identifiable brand when you sell your products to the world, you should do the same when selling your company as a great place to work. That’s why McDonald’s fights hard against the “McJob” label—they don’t want to hire poor talent any more than the next company.
This does take effort, though. Pay attention to sites like Glassdoor and Yelp to get a sense of how your company’s place in the job market. And if you don’t find that you have a brand at all, great—that means you get to start defining it for yourself. Create a new Careers page at your website and make it clear what working for you might be like.
Be a Better Place to Work
Finally, just as word-of-mouth marketing is the best way to spread the news about your service or product, you want to build a reputation as a great place to work. Make sure you meet regularly with your HR manager to get a gauge on what it’s like to work for you. Check in with employees. Offer benefits packages when you can. Hire more work when you need it—don’t pile on your existing employees. The more work you do to ensure that you have a great company worthy of top talent, the more likely you are to attract the talent that will grow your business.