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How small businesses can compete with the big players in the war for talent

Kate Allen, Managing Director, Allen Associates

London’s role as a leading hub for both national and international businesses has rarely, if ever, waned.

These companies create new jobs and make a significant contribution to the capital economy. But big businesses also pose a major challenge for smaller Employers, when it comes to attracting the talent they need to take their businesses forward.

So, how can smaller businesses raise their profile as an Employer of choice over their larger rivals? It is easier than you might think.

In 2017, Facebook announced the creation of 800 jobs at its new London office, while Amazon said that it plans to double its existing workforce in the capital from 450 to 900. Both companies have enormous pulling power in terms of their attractiveness as a brand in their own right, and as an Employer of choice.

Yet, by communicating their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) in the right way, Employers of any size can effectively position themselves as a business that great talent will want to work for.

What do you do, and why does it matter?

We have spoken to hundreds of hiring managers over the years and almost all of them ask their Candidates the same question - ‘Why do you want to work here?’ It’s a great question, but one that we ask our clients to answer themselves – why do they work there?

People are motivated by varying factors, ranging from the perception of the business and the work it does, to the culture of the organisation and its ethical and corporate social responsibility.

Understanding what attracts talent in the first place is a key step to getting them to respond to your Recruitment marketing efforts, and ultimately encourage them through the door.

What can potential Employees expect in return?

Hiring is a two-way process – you are the buyer looking to make a purchase (new hire) and the Candidate is the seller looking to make a sale (new job). The exchange needs to be mutually beneficial, and the most successful hirers are those who clearly communicate the what’s-in-it-for-me-factor to the talent they seek to appeal to.

They avoid talking about themselves and how great the company is. Rather, the focus is on the deal that is being offered – how the Employer will meet the expectations of the Candidate (training, career progression, bonus) in return for what is expected of them (deliverables, behaviours, attitude).

Listen and adapt

Focusing on attracting new people to fill your vacancies takes more than running a great Recruitment marketing campaign. Arguably one of the most powerful weapons hiring managers have in their armoury is the talent they already have.

Speak to your people by way of Employee surveys or simply canvasing their opinions the next time you run appraisals – what do they like most and least about working there? How connected are they with the business, and have they bought into its vision? Do they feel supported in their role and have the opportunity to achieve what they want in their career within your organisation?

Businesses that have an effective talent management and rewards programme in place generate significantly stronger results than those that don’t, both in terms of the impact on the bottom line and their ability to attract and retain the best people.

Developing an effective EVP is achievable for any sized organisation. While the likes of Facebook and Amazon at al have oodles of resources at their disposal, it doesn’t mean they don’t have their own Recruitment challenges. All businesses do, but the difference between being an Employer of choice and an also-ran is understanding what truly motivates the right Candidates, and selling their offering to these critical factors.

Do you need support with your Recruitment strategy? Contact our London office today and benefit from over 20 years’ of working with hundreds of Employers of all sizes and across all sectors.

How do you compete in the war for talent? Get in touch, and let us know.

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