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How your small business can make a big impression when attracting talent

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

Attracting and retaining a skilled staff-base is critical to the success of any business.

However, as economic conditions improve and the war for top talent rages on, securing the star players your company needs is often easier said than done - especially when you’re competing with big-name brands for the best people.

For these well-renowned companies, the challenge may not seem so great.

In fact, according to research from the Employer Branding Institute, 49% of employees surveyed named reputation as a key influencer in their decision to work for a particular company. With a bevy of benefits to offer and a global reputation to boot, competing against smaller firms within the same sector rarely poses a problem for well-established companies.

Forever on the back foot, however, are their small to medium sized counterparts. Trying to out-pace the big companies in a race for talented employees can be tough, but it isn’t a lost cause. In fact, there are plenty of tips and tricks that can see you attracting talent to your small business. These include:

Building a strong employer brand

If reputation plays such a pivotal role in the decision of a job seeker, your aim is to craft an employer brand that attracts talent through values rather than name alone. Don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll never have a chance: in fact, research from LinkedIn suggests the smallest businesses make for the happiest employees. Their study noted a recurring trend of employees flocking to smaller companies in search for job satisfaction and a feeling of belonging.

These are the elements you should be focusing on when communicating your unique Employer Value Proposition to potential candidates. Rather than trying to pretend you’re bigger than you really are, embrace your size and use it to create an image of your company as a “home” for employees; a place where they feel comfortable contributing and growing with the business.

Let candidates experience your culture

When it comes to the working environment, bigger isn’t always better. Typically, smaller organisations offer a more laid-back culture than their larger, more corporate competitors. If that sounds like your business, there’s never been a better time to shout about it than now. When crafting a job ad, focus on these qualities and use less of a formal tone of voice in conveying your message - this will aid in attracting candidates who seek something more than a salary; it will showcase the ‘human’ element of your business and will likely help to make a candidate feel more at ease in their application.

Instead of holding interviews in a stuffy meeting room and demanding your candidate turn up suited and booted, arrange to meet them in a more casual environment like a café. This will further show to the applicant that your business is more concerned with their performance than their appearance and can be a powerful way of demonstrating the advantages of a small company. Those who respond positively will likely be the employees who will fit your company best.

Offering flexibility

While a comfortable salary is to be expected, those with smaller budgets should steer clear of competing with bigger brands on pay alone. Today, flexible working opportunities tend to rank highly on a candidate’s list of priorities, but not all employers can guarantee this kind of arrangement.

Capitalise on this by considering how you could make the role more flexible and asking your candidates about their requirements. Flexible working arrangements may have been pushed into the spotlight by Millennials demanding disruption to the status quo, but concentrating on KPIs rather than clock-watching has been proven to drive more engagement and motivation from your staff.

Of course, some applicants will still demand a higher salary for their services, but it is possible to provide attractive, all-round packages that incorporate more holiday time, opportunities to travel and creative perks that can put your wages on par with bigger firms.

For 20 years, the Allen Associates team has been helping employers in Oxfordshire secure the talent they really need. Can we help you? Click here for more information.

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