How to recruit employees for your small business
  • Category:
    Small Business Energy Savings
  • Published:
    July 27, 2020
  • Updated:
    February 22, 2022

How to Recruit Employees for Your Small Business

Whether you’re taking on new work, dealing with high staff turnover or just looking to bring some fresh ideas to the table, knowing how to recruit employees for your small business is essential. Attracting qualified employees can be a challenge, especially when larger, more established companies are competing for the same talent. By developing effective recruiting strategies for your small business, you can find the right candidates, make competitive offers and cut costs throughout the hiring process.

The importance of hiring the right candidate

Since small-business owners don’t always have time or money to dedicate to recruiting, they may attempt to fix understaffing problems by rushing through the recruiting process at the last minute. When this happens, they often end up with employees who don’t fit well in their business, leading to an increase in employee turnover.

Hiring and onboarding staff is one of the more expensive costs of operating a small business. Indeed, a high turnover rate can mean serious financial problems for small-business owners. Having recruiting strategies in place can help you find and hire the right candidates, increase retention rates and, ultimately, cut down on your business costs.

9 Recruiting Strategies for Your Small Business

It’s difficult for any business to succeed without high-quality employees. But how do you attract and retain talent, especially as a small business in a competitive market? Effectively recruiting for your small business won’t look the same as for another employer, but the following strategies can give you a general idea of how to recruit the candidates you need.

1. Assess your small business’s hiring needs.

Before jumping into the recruiting process, it’s important that you thoroughly assess the hiring needs of your small business. By gathering this information, you can guide and narrow your recruitment efforts, set realistic hiring goals and avoid making any unnecessary hires. Although hiring needs typically vary depending on the company, you may want to consider any or all of the following before recruiting for your small business:

  • Determine the exact skills/knowledge your business needs but is lacking. Start by establishing the exact skills or talent your business needs in order to be successful. This will give you a better idea of what type of candidate(s) you need to hire and for what position(s).
  • Figure out whether you need to hire or if current employees can take on extra duties. If the skills your business needs already exist among your current employees, you may not need to hire at all. Just be careful not to overwhelm current staff with too many responsibilities and cause additional turnover.
  • Decide how many employees you need to hire, and what kind. How many employees you need to hire is a function of income versus expense. Employees cost money to recruit, hire, train and pay. Full-time staff with benefits cost the most. Part-timers working fewer than 30 hours per week (so no benefits) cost less. Independent contractors, with no benefits or training or equipment needs, are even cheaper. A comparison of projected income and costs will help reveal what kind of worker, and how many, you can afford.

How many employees do I need to hire?

2. Write job descriptions that attract qualified applicants.

With job openings in the United States at a record high, it’s never been so important to write job descriptions that stick out and pique the interest of qualified candidates. Especially for smaller, less-established businesses, job descriptions are how applicants get their first impressions of your company, so it’s wise to be honest and strategic in your approach. Small-business job description tips include:

  • Target specific skills in your job descriptions. You’ll reach a broader pool of candidates and express the base qualifications for a position.
  • Make job responsibilities specific and realistic. Candidates will have a better idea of what their day-to-day might look like.
  • Be clear and succinct throughout your job descriptions. You don’t want to overwhelm potential applicants with too much information.

3. Keep your salary offers competitive.

Hiring for small-business owners becomes even more of a challenge when they’re forced to compete with the salaries being offered by larger companies. Qualified candidates are always in high demand, meaning they’ll be more likely to pass up on wages that don’t suit their needs.

Your first instinct may be to base your salary offers on budget alone. But the reality is that even small businesses have to offer salaries that align with the market rate if they wish to attract talent. To ensure that your salary offers remain competitive, consider checking what the going rate is for a certain position in your area.

4. Offer a high-quality benefit package.

For many employees, benefits are a necessity, providing security and improving quality of life. Although businesses are generally only required to offer a handful of employee benefits, offering a high-quality benefits package can be an effective way to recruit qualified employees to your small business. Aside from the additional compensation, you’ll show that you care about your staff’s well-being.

If it makes sense for your company, recruiting best practices often call for a benefits package that includes medical insurance, dental insurance, life insurance and a retirement plan. You may even decide to take your benefit offerings a step further, including other fringe benefits such as profit-sharing or employee commuter benefits.

5. Provide unique employee perks.

Unlike benefits, which employers are required to pay into, perks can be defined as fun, relatively inexpensive gestures or policies that “sweeten the pot” and provide additional value to employees. Offering unique, individually tailored perks can be a particularly useful strategy when recruiting for small businesses. They help your company stand out from the crowd and show your dedication to a healthy work-life balance. Some potential employee perks to offer at your small business include:

  • Flexible schedules. If anything will attract talent to a small business, it’s flexibility. That means offering things like flexible schedules and remote work policies. Your employees will appreciate the extra freedom, and you may even be able to change your business hours to cut energy costs.
  • Unlimited time off. According to a recent survey, paid time off is the top perk among employees. Unlimited paid time off is becoming an increasingly attractive emerging benefit. By offering unlimited PTO, you can attract and retain talent even if you aren’t boasting the salaries of larger companies.
  • Fitness, wellness and nutrition programs. Offering fitness and wellness programs, such as exercise programs, gym memberships and healthy snack options, shows qualified candidates that you’re invested in them, not just their skills. Encouraging good physical and mental health practices can also boost employee productivity and promote positive attitudes in the workplace.
  • Pet-friendly office. Depending on the type of small business you own, allowing employees to bring a pet to work could incentivize qualified applicants and create a happier work environment.
  • Casual dress code. Offering a casual dress code can help attract candidates when recruiting for your small business by helping employees feel more comfortable in the workplace. This policy would also help them save money on expensive professional attire.
  • Neighborhood discounts. Working with local businesses in your area to develop employee discount programs is a great way to catch the interest of potential applicants. Neighborhood discounts not only help employees save money but also support your local community.

Employee perks take many forms; be creative until you find what works best for you. It may take some effort, but offering unique and relevant perks is key if you wish to attract talent to your small business.

6. Highlight your small business’s lifestyle and culture.

With more than half of employees prioritizing workplace culture over salary, it’s clear how establishing and emphasizing company culture can be an effective recruiting strategy for your small business. Your lifestyle and culture is where you get to show prospective employees what you value as a company and how working at your business will be rewarding beyond the paychecks. Consider highlighting things such as volunteer projects that your company participates in, the best local cuisine and attractions in your area, or trailblazing initiatives, like running an environmentally friendly business.

7. Utilize social media and job board sites.

Going digital with your recruiting efforts is a cost-effective strategy that offers many benefits to small-business owners. Social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter can be used to engage potential candidates, emphasize your company’s culture and expand your recruiting network. Additionally, job board sites like Indeed along with a hiring software like Workable can help your job postings reach more candidates in less time, but your job descriptions and requirements will need to be clear so you get quality candidates — especially if you’re paying for a subscription. There are also many niche job boards to post on so your job listings are seen by the right people.

8. Give employees room to grow with your small business.

Offering professional development and career advancement opportunities to employees can attract more qualified applicants and lead to improved retention rates. Opportunities to grow and develop skills are among the top things attracting young talent to businesses, with millennials in particular ranking quality training and development programs as more attractive in an employer than a good benefits package. There are several ways to promote employee skill development in your small business, such as offering training and development courses and instating a digital transformation strategy.

9. Measure your small business’s recruiting efforts.

It’s difficult to tell how effective your small-business recruiting strategies are without consistently tracking and measuring your efforts. By collecting data throughout the recruiting process, you’ll be able to tell what’s working for your small business, how you can better improve employee recruitment and retention rates, and how much money is being invested in your recruiting budget. Consider tracking metrics such as the time it takes to fill positions, the number of qualified applicants you receive for positions, offer acceptance rates and the various costs associated with your recruiting efforts.

Tools and resources for tracking your recruiting efforts

If you’re busy running the day-to-day operations of your business, you may not have extra time to dedicate to tracking your recruiting efforts. Luckily, there are many tools and resources available that make monitoring and measuring your small business’s recruiting strategies a more manageable, time-efficient task:

  • Recruiting software. Prices and capabilities will vary, but small-business recruiting software can provide useful data regarding things like lead development, employee engagement and job board effectiveness.
  • Applicant tracking systems. Although some recruiting software includes an applicant tracking system, they can also be purchased separately and used to communicate with candidates, organize applications, schedule interviews and automate different steps in the recruiting process.
  • Basic calculations. If you’re looking for a more cost-effective alternative to recruiting software or an applicant tracking system, you can try calculating your own metrics in order to measure your recruiting impact.
  • Surveys and questionnaires. Creating surveys or questionnaires to share with potential candidates and current employees can help you gather relevant feedback about your small business’s recruiting strategies and identify areas for improvement.
  • Website analytics. By using a tool like Google Analytics, you can easily determine the most effective channels for your job postings. For each position, simply compare the amount of applications you receive from each channel (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) with the total number of impressions the position received on each channel.
  • Chatbots. Using small-business chatbots can be helpful throughout the recruiting process, bringing efficiency to internal and external communications, as well as freeing up current employees to handle important recruiting tasks.

What recruiting challenges do small businesses face?

When it comes to recruiting and hiring for small-business owners, there’s no shortage of obstacles to overcome. Larger companies often have the luxury of hiring recruiting teams, but that’s seldom a possibility when you’re working on a limited budget. As a result, small-business owners are frequently presented with unique staffing problems that they may not be qualified to solve, even if they’re following recruiting best practices.

Here are a few of the main recruiting and hiring challenges faced by small businesses:

  • Competing with larger businesses. Small businesses and larger, corporate companies often compete over the same talent. However, it can be hard for small-business owners to make offers that compete with the high salaries and robust benefits packages offered by larger, more established businesses.
  • Reaching qualified candidates. Small businesses generally have fewer recruiting resources available to them, leading to smaller talent pools of qualified applicants. However, outsourcing your recruitment efforts can help ensure that your job postings are seen by the best candidates for the positions.
  • Owners too busy to recruit. Due to factors like limited budgets and understaffing, small-business owners are often required to take on several roles within their companies. This means less time to dedicate to their recruiting efforts.
  • Needing to fill positions quickly. Since small businesses usually run on a very limited number of employees, each position in the business tends to be an important one, fulfilling various responsibilities that are vital to the success of the organization. So when a position opens up, small-business owners may feel compelled to fill it right away.
  • Onboarding and training new employees. Beyond the recruiting problems small businesses face, it’s also not uncommon for them to encounter challenges during the onboarding and training processes. A lack of time, money, resources or expertise in a particular subject can make it difficult for small-business owners to effectively onboard and prepare their new hires.

Attracting talent to your small business

Your company is only as good as the people who work there; planning how to recruit top talent is ultimately planning for small- business success. But recruiting for your small business doesn’t have to be a lengthy and painstaking process. By being proactive and developing effective recruiting strategies, you can attract talent to your small business, promote your employees’ personal and professional development, and improve retention rates across your company.

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