4 Ways Small Companies Can Score Big in the Recruiting Game

4 Ways Small Companies Can Score Big in the Recruiting Game

With a strong culture, any small company can be a formidable competitor for top talent

By Jessica Rohman

Just because your company is small doesn’t mean it can’t compete for talent in the big leagues. Our research into some of the Best Small & Medium Workplaces has revealed strategies that smaller companies can use to attract top talent—from touting a highly unique culture, to wowing candidates in ways that can be hard to scale at the behemoths.

Here are four tips will boost any small company’s confidence as it steps up to the plate in the recruiting game.

1. Make a phenominal first impression

Job applicants are already aware of their need to make a good impression in order to land a job. But in a time of talent shortages, it’s also equally important for employers to make a great impression on the best candidates. When it comes to top talent, it’s often a matter of them choosing you—not the other way around.

When highly qualified candidates come calling, give them every reason to say yes to success at your company by treating them as the valuable individuals they are. Regardless of size, great workplaces are often known for going to great lengths to provide outstanding treatment to potential job candidates from the first interaction they have.

Creating a warm and welcoming environment that makes a job candidate feel valued is easier for smaller organizations because intimacy is a function of size. To ensure you make the most of this competitive advantage, be prompt and clear in your communications, and be as genuinely hospitable as possible—leading up to and during the interview. Equip interviewees with helpful information before they arrive, including directions, parking/ transportation recommendations, timing, agenda for the day, dress code, etc.

And, demonstrate respect for candidates with timely communication after the interview, even if it doesn’t work out. After all, you never know when a position that’s perfect for them will open up in the future.

People within industries talk, and your red-carpet treatment will bolster your good reputation with peers and prospects alike. And, potential employees who experience good treatment during the interview process will find it easier to believe your company really is the best choice.

2. Provide robust opportunities for growth and development.

What are the primary desires of top job candidates? For starters, they want to grow. They want to be challenged. They aren’t looking to simply work at a job; they are looking to further their careers. Give them these opportunities, and you just may have them at hello.

When qualified candidates walk through your door (whether in-person or virtually), be ready to demonstrate how your company can challenge them and set them on an upwardly mobile career path. Highlight any and all opportunities your company offers to assist them in their desire to grow professionally—whether it be challenging work assignments, a strong investment in training and development programs, or a commitment to promoting from within.

And, be sure to underscore the unique advantages they will gain from working at your smaller company, including more opportunities to access senior leaders, innovate and implement new ideas, expand roles and take on new responsibilities, and even have a voice in important issues facing the company. Make sure they understand your world is one of unlimited potential.

At Best Small Workplace Button, a 74-person, New York-based tech company, growing "Personally and Professionally" is a core value. Every employee is given an annual professional development budget, and are also offered sessions with a professional coach specific to Button. This includes sessions on working styles, a monthly “Nourish” speaker series bringing in experts and leaders across a variety of industries, and much more. This type of commitment shows candidates that at Button, each and every employee’s development is taken seriously.

3. Highlight the impact employees can make by working at your company.

What impact does your company have on the world? The wonderful thing about working at a small company is that with a smaller workforce, it can be easier to demonstrate how just one person’s efforts can make a big difference. This sense of impact and purpose are critical components of a great workplace. Moreover, when employees know how their actions make an impact, their productivity, morale and job satisfaction increase significantly.

There are many ways to highlight your company’s place in the world—through your website, social media outlets, recruiting materials, and more. Whether employees will have access to high-impact work projects, or ample opportunities to give back to the community through volunteerism, your recruiting efforts will be well-served by demonstrating the impact employees can make by working at your company.

4. Make your company’s unique culture a selling point.

A strong small company culture can be a big advantage when it comes to attracting—and retaining—top talent. That’s because a great workplace culture is all about the level of trust people have with their colleagues and with leadership.

Our data shows that smaller companies have higher levels of trust overall, leading to a higher likelihood that employees will feel their company is a great place to work. And, when employees at smaller companies feel their company is a great workplace, they are 63 times more likely to want to stay on board than those who don’t.

Best Small Workplace Slidebelts, a 30-person belt retailer with “a passion for quality and an itch for innovation,” is recruiting for “growth hackers”—in other words, “people who excel in assessing old processes to find better ways of doing things” as they scale.

In their open job posting for a Graphic Designer, “General awesomeness and a sense of humor” is the one job responsibility that is underlined among a list of twelve responsibilities. And, in a subsequent list of nineteen required job skills and expectations, the one that is highlighted in bold font is: Passion, Integrity, and Energy!

Through this job posting, Slidebelts gives prospective candidates insight into their unique culture. They are also giving them a heads up that if you are asked to come in for an interview, “general awesomeness” really is a job responsibility. Job candidates are assessed, in part, against what Slidebelts calls "the 3 H's: Humility, Hunger, and Hangworthiess.”

They also showcase their lean team in a compelling way in the “Culture” section of their website, with unique photos of every single employee featured under a banner that reads: “Each member of our team plays a critical role in making SlideBelts a success - the titles simply help us maintain order and accountability.”

Is Slidebelts the right place for everyone? Maybe not. But that’s the point – at this time in their growth, they are not catering to the masses. And by showcasing their unique culture as it exists today, it becomes a selling point for job seekers that prefer “hangworthy” to hierarchy.

So, the next time your small company needs to make a new hire, don’t underestimate your appeal. Showcasing all you have to offer because of your size—not in spite of it—will help draw top talent to your company instead of the big guys.

Think your small company is a great one? Apply now for the 2018 Best Small & Medium Workplaces list!


Jessica Rohman