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Looking good: how your small business can attract the very best employees

Applauding to corporate innovations. Group of cheerful business people applauding to someone  while standing in a row

The employment pendulum is on the swing again. With such low unemployment, companies are desperately looking to recruit, ideally the best, candidates.  Employees, especially the most talented, have their pick of jobs and companies.  So, what can small-business employers do to be chosen by their ideal candidates?


Of course, everyone knows it’s not all about the pay. But, unless you are a great payer, you won’t even be in the running. People know what others are offering and they naturally assume that the best payers are the ones that most value them and will offer the best opportunities. This is often referred to as a ‘hygiene factor’. It’s just something you have to get right just to be in the running.

For exceptional candidates, you may want to go further and offer significantly more than the competition. It’s worth remembering, though, that your competitors will probably be happy to join a bidding war, so this doesn’t guarantee you your candidate.


Throughout the interview process, it’s important that your candidate can see that your small business is flourishing, is growing and is full of opportunity. More importantly, though, you need to bring to life what this opportunity means to the individual, so s/he can understand and visualise it easily. When your potential candidates see that they could be promoted again and have an even bigger job, with more responsibility, authority and pay, you will become significantly more attractive as an employer.


The best employees want to work with other outstanding people. So, introducing them to others in the team is very helpful, especially when coupled with the message that you take high performance seriously and that those that don’t cut it don’t stay for long. High performers love knowing that their efforts won’t be dragged down by ‘nine to fivers’ who just want a paycheck.


Don’t under-estimate the impact of training on a candidate’s decision-making. Employees these days know that there are no longer jobs for life. So, to keep their own personal value high, they need to be trained extensively. Whether it’s in soft skills or more technical skills, a concrete training plan and budget will have a significant part to play in their choice of next employer.


Employees today are aware of the importance of leading a balanced life. They recognise the need to have time to wind down, spend time with family and friends and to explore the world or enjoy their hobbies. So, if you’re able to offer generous holidays, it might just tip the balance in your favour.

All of this may seem like hard work. However, it’s worth considering the alternative: a business full of second-rate employees. How likely is it then that you’ll achieve all of the great plans you have?

About the author:

Heather Foley is a consultant at etsplc.com, a UK-based HR consultancy and technology company.