Smart tactics for SMBs to snare the best talent

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We all know people are the most important asset to a company and certainly when it comes to attracting the best, the big guns can pull out some compelling ammunition.

But times have changed.

Technology allows greater flexibility for new, smaller and agile businesses to flourish. Today SMBs, which account for almost half of all employment and more than half of the nation’s economic value have a compelling story to tell.

While it’s tough for SMB’s to compete, there are some tricks for SMBs to win the war on talent.

The first is to get the business story right and the second trick is to really sell it!

It may sound counter-intuitive, but knowing why employees leave a job gives some great insights into how to attract and retain them. According to Insync Surveys’ 2012 Retention Review, people mainly leave a job because of of a poor job ‘fit’. They just didn’t suit the job or the job didn’t suit them.

Before an SMB reaches out to candidates, it pays to firstly identify and quantify the critical success attributes of the role. There are plenty of tools to help (search job analysis survey), but essentially you’ll need to know exactly what duties, tasks and responsibilities the job will require.

So here comes the story part, and by story it’s not fiction or gilding the lily (tall stories lead to short employee tenures). SMBs can be more nimble, fun and engaging in the way they structure their business, culture and tell their story.

Here’s some employee propositions to help the SMB story stand out.

We may be small, but so was Napoleon!

People want their work to have purpose, and studies have shown they’ll take a job for less money to obtain it. SMBs can provide greater touch points with the business mission and inspire employees on a more frequent and casual basis than larger corporates. SMBs should be talking about what’s important to their company – whether it’s culture, the work they do or the difference they make.

Differentiate yourself up front – for example, dial up the diversity of work tasks (eg. no staff pigeon holes), create a fast paced environment and fast track on-the-job learning opportunities.

We know you’re a real person

SMBs aren’t hamstrung by rules and regulations. Providing flexible working arrangements that work for both the business and the individual is a mighty draw card.

We’ve got a figure in mind, but let’s talk salary

We know at the Clarius Group that salary is often not at the top of the list for job seekers especially for Gen X and Baby Boomers, but it’s a big consideration.

While large corporates may offer generous salaries there are plenty of non-financial incentives SMBs can pull out of the hat. So have the conversation and be prepared to be responsive.

Getting ahead is important for both of us!

Gen Y’s will leave for better career opportunities/offers while Gen X and Baby Boomers like job satisfaction – one size doesn’t fit all. Where big corporates can have the upper hand is offering clearer career paths. SMBs can compensate by offering mentoring, training and sponsored study (of the candidate’s choice).

Yep, we want our place to be great for you too

Touching the emotions to make the employee feel welcomed, appreciated and valued is key. Lunch with the CEO, an opportunity to lead teams or tasks, a gift card with an extra day off to spend it are just a few examples. Other areas to consider are reward programs, health and wellness (think free flu shots for winter), and philanthropic activities.

Finally, once a great candidate is on the hook, the process needs to be run professionally. A couple of tips include preparing for the interview with well-considered questions, having other people lined up and briefed to be co-interviewers, and once appointed a professional contract and welcome letter will seal the deal.

Even if all the above is done well, finding talent in the first place isn’t straight forward. Posting an ad to an online job board or conducting a search on LinkedIn isn’t rocket science but sifting through hundreds of potentials and short listing the right ones can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

Professional recruiters are trained to identify and shortlist efficiently and effectively saving you time and effort from attempting to do-it-yourself. Another advantage of engaging a professional recruiter is gaining access to their talent network of both active and passive job seekers.

Investing some thinking, time and money on these initiatives means an SMB can punch well above their weight in the hunt and offer better than just carrots to get a great employee.

About the author

Kym Quick is the CEO of the Clarius Group of recruitment companies which include Lloyd Morgan Australia, Candle, SouthTech, Alliance Recruitment and The One Umbrella.