With the right tactics, small businesses can successfully compete against large companies for top talent.
In some cases, a small business may even have more to offer a prospective employee than its mammoth counterpart. The key is knowing how to present your strengths to job candidates.
Debby Millhouse, president of CEO Inc., a Charlotte-based company that provides full staffing services, offers this advice for small business owners who want to recruit outstanding employees:
• Realize it’s not all about the money. People don’t join a company just because of the salary, Millhouse said. Often they are interested in many facets of the job and the company.
“People leave jobs because of management and people take jobs because of management,” she said. “They either fall in love and stay because of the people and the culture, or they grow to hate something and leave because of the people and the culture.”
• Realize it is a little bit about the money. You can’t pay a substandard price for a top employee, and companies that say they don’t have the money for it may want to look again at their budget.
Hiring someone with little experience for a job that requires a lot of experience could backfire, and investing in a qualified, proven employee will pay off, Millhouse said.
• Use your company’s size as a selling point. At a small business, employees are not anonymous worker bees.
“If something happens in the marketplace, I am in the trenches with them,” Millhouse said. “If I have to close this company, it is dramatically going to affect my life. If you are not successful, I’m in it with you.”
Because small companies often know their employees well, they also can offer flexibility tailored to each employee’s situation.
• Play up how prospective employees will become part your company’s values. Don’t assume job candidates will research your company. Provide them with your values and mission statement.
CEO Inc. believes in giving to the community, and employees have donated thousands of dollars to its giving fund. The company prioritizes its employees: Millhouse notes that during a snowstorm in Charlotte, her husband made sure employees had rides to work and offered to help clear fallen trees from their yards.
“Our people matter to us,” she said. “Some people want a place where somebody knows their name, gives them a chance to grow and thrive, gives them a fair wage and creates a fun environment.”
• Boast your benefits. Salary isn’t the only tangible compensation prospective employees are looking for. Millhouse said that one of her employees, who formerly worked at a big bank, told her he took a pay cut to work at CEO Inc. because he liked the smaller company’s better benefits package.
“You can offer some benefits that are compelling,” Millhouse said. At CEO Inc., employees have access to a pick-up/drop-off dry-cleaning service. The company is also about to roll out a trip incentives program for employees who achieve a certain level.
“We’re not Bank of America,” she said. “Look for things that you think really sell your organization, and then sell that organization. People will come.”
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