Eight Ways Small Employers Can Compete for Top Talent
Apr 3, 2023
Lori Dann, Founder

For small business leaders, finding top talent can be hard enough, but competing to hire that talent is even harder. The current employment landscape makes it especially difficult for small employers to compete with large corporations. While they may be unable to throw money and traditional benefits at a candidate, there are ways to attract and retain top talent — and big business is missing.

  • Hire for potential over experience: Consider hiring a candidate based on their personality and behavior, i.e., a capable learner with initiative and integrity that can be taught the job responsibilities. They will be grateful for the opportunity and, in return, may be more loyal to the company. 
  • Pay more attention to transferrable and soft skills than quantifiable qualifications gained through training: These are less measurable than hard skills, but include essential qualities like negotiation, problem-solving, listening, teamwork, confidence, adaptability and empathy. 
  • Don’t draw hard lines around work history gaps: Gaps in work history are usually attributed to the candidate tending to non-career related responsibilities that likely have enriched that person in some way.
  • Employees who feel purpose in their work are more productive, effective, resilient, healthy and have staying power.
  • Provide growth opportunities: Every candidate wants to understand what they must know to do the job, how they will be supported and what opportunities are available for growth.
  • Be a mentor: The greatest benefit to working for a small business is the opportunity for mentorship. Imagine hiring a candidate that meets 1-5 above, then teaching that person the job, the business, the methodologies employed and even an entire industry. Not only will they be set up for a long and successful career, but tremendous loyalty will also be built.
  • Allow for job crafting: Be open to let employees adjust their work parameters to be in alignment with their skills and preferences, while still meeting company expectations.
  • Offer low or no cost employee benefits: Such as a voluntary benefits menu, savings program, employee assistance program, additional PTO, or tuition reimbursement for work-related education.  
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