Taking on the Hiring Goliaths

As a small or medium business (SMB), does it feel like you’re in an uneven competition for talent with larger companies? Even though SMBs hire more people than larger companies (about 60% work at companies with less than 2,000 employees), they routinely have more difficulty in attracting candidates.

Let’s take a look at some of what makes it so challenging to be a recruiter at a SMB

  1. Limited Budget – this hurts recruiting efforts on at least two fronts: one is the perceived lesser salary a SMB has available to pay an employee; and the other is the available budget to promote a position.
  2. Brand Invisibility – If a candidate doesn’t recognize your company or is trying to manage his or her resume (i.e. work at recognizable company in hope that it helps with future job searches), your brand will have less traction.
  3. No Dedicated Recruiter – If a company is small enough it may not have a person or team whose mandate is to find the best talent. When treated as a part-time function, all sorts of errors and omissions can occur.
  4. Role Fragmentation – At a smaller company, it’s often expected that an employee will fill several roles, e.g. we know you’re a marketer but we will also need you to do some customer support work. This can muddy the job description and force the candidate to question “what am I getting myself into?”
  5. Perceived Risk – There’s a lingering question at a smaller company about whether the company will be able to sustain itself, which gets internalized by the candidate as will I get paid on time, will I keep my job, etc.

So how can a SMB recruiter turn some of these challenges into opportunities?

  1. Consider Current Employees – They have the best appreciation for what actually goes on at your company. They may be right for a position, or they can serve as ambassadors of your company and look into their networks for referrals.
  2. Get Your Story Right – Make it clear to candidates in your posting why you’re a great company. And explain the benefits of being in a small company: more direct access to the top of the company, greater contribution to company’s success, a less bureaucratic environment, more breadth in role, etc.
  3. Tell Everyone – Pinching pennies on searching for candidates is not a good idea.  The more people you tell, the more likely you’ll find a good fit. And this way, you won’t waste time waiting for people to somehow hear about your opening.
  4. Look for the Right People – This is the most important point. Not everyone is open to – or will be successful in – working at a smaller company. Getting the appropriate personality fit is essential, and I’m not just speaking of someone you like. Look for people who fit the profile of the role and the profile of the company. For example, you’ll want someone who has the right drive, risk tolerance, and communication style.

While it can be challenging to find talent as an SMB, it also provides an opportunity to tighten your lens on who will be the best fit in your environment. Happy recruiting.