Recruiting big-time talent to small businesses is often a struggle. But, with a few creative recruitment strategies on your side, you can level the playing field and compete for top talent.
The best candidates may be more likely to apply to companies whose names they’re already familiar with; however, that shouldn’t discourage you. All you need is a little ingenuity to grab their attention and learn what they’re looking for in a career and office culture.
Although recruiting is not an exact science and there’s no one formula for success, leveraging the power of the Internet with face-to-face interaction can be a powerful combination. Instead of just posting your jobs on online job boards and waiting for the flood of hit-or-miss résumés to pour in, step it up and be creative.
Start with these six outside-the-box recruitment strategies. The long-term gains will be worth it.
1. Spend time where your ideal candidates “live” online
If you’re looking for your next IT specialist, that means going on technology blogs or question-and-answer sites, like the Stack Exchange network, to essentially “live and hunt.” You want to be in that space with the talent you’re seeking.
This could also mean participating in interactive interviews and forums, such as Ask Me Anything on Reddit, to get your company’s vision and personality out there. These are just a couple of examples, but they capture the essence of how you should be trying to connect with your target candidates.
For smaller companies, it’s also a good idea to scour industry blogs and message boards. They can be invaluable in helping you find out what your ideal candidates are talking about and what matters to them in a less-formal environment.
Better yet, if you’re comfortable doing so, get involved in conversations, tell them who you are and learn what they want most in a career. This allows you to attract people and engage them by making connections and actually starting an informal dialogue.
When you spend time in these virtual spaces, you start living, thinking and breathing in your potential job candidates’ world. As a result, you’ll be better able to communicate with them in a way that resonates with them.
2. Host hiring happy hours in your office
One great way to showcase your company is to host an onsite “hiring happy hour” for people interested in joining your team.
Push the happy hour on event, meet-up and industry-relevant websites your candidates frequent to gain exposure. Put it on your own company’s career or social media pages. The point is to use those spaces where you can advertise the event for free.
Then, all you’ll really be out is a couple hundred bucks for refreshments, and you’ll get to meet some excited candidates and show off your team and office. If you’d rather avoid the expense and liability that may be associated with serving alcoholic beverages, hire a barista and make it a coffee happy hour instead.
Make sure to have all of your hiring managers there to conduct informal interviews on the spot.
This strategy can work tremendously well for growing companies that need to hire for lots of new positions. It brings candidates and business leaders together in a more comfortable setting, and prospects will be less guarded knowing they’re not all competing for one position.
3. Re-engage qualified past candidates
It’s common to tell job seekers their résumé is being put on file for the future. But how many times do those candidates actually get notified later on when you’re searching for someone like them?
Instead of just telling people you’ll remember them, ditch the “we’ll call you” lip service and actually follow through and do it.
Seek out former finalists, and those who reached out to you about job openings in the past, and see if they’re still interested. Using your database of candidates that you’ve built over the years, use email marketing and social media where appropriate to re-engage them.
Acknowledge that you’re aware it’s been a while since you’ve spoken with them, and ask them if they’re considering making a move now or any time soon. You could pique their interest again, or maybe their positive experience with you will lead to them recommending a qualified friend or coworker who’s looking.
This allows you to get your brand and open positions in front of people who cleared multiple qualification hurdles before or were interested enough to send you their résumé.
Regardless of whether they’re actively looking at that time, your odds are still better with this warmer market than with candidates whose résumé you just ran across on a job site.
4. Build your employee experience into your career page
It’s not enough to have a career page listing your available jobs. Maybe you have a blurb about your company’s history, too. Still, that’s not hitting the mark you need to hit to attract the perfect culture fits.
Get creative. Post photos of group outings. Get quotes from thriving, happy employees about their experience with the company. Create videos of them describing the joy of coming to work – or how the benefits you offer have changed their lives.
Highlight what it looks and feels like to be an employee of your business.
You can also build out your Glassdoor and LinkedIn pages so they have personality and a voice that matches your company. Although this is free and easy to do, many companies overlook this simple strategy.
5. Create an employee referral program
When it comes to creative recruitment strategies, the employee referral program definitely isn’t the new kid on the block. But, when done right, it can be one of your most effective recruiting tools.
Use excitement and word of mouth to seek out talented candidates. Recruit your own people to be brand ambassadors. This can be especially helpful if you’re a young company without extra cash sitting around for a recruiting budget.
Identify the successful employees who live, eat and breathe your mission – and arm them with the tools to spread your company’s vision and values. After all, if they love where they work, why wouldn’t they want to share the experience with others?
Give them content they can share on social media and send in emails, and brief them on how to talk about the company when they’re out and about. Develop a simple step-by-step process, such as:
- Talented people in their network approach them and say, “Hey, can you tell me more about this job?”
- Then, your brand ambassador refers them to you.
- You give the referring employee a kickback of $500, or whatever you can spare.
As a small business, it’s critical to leverage the talent you already have in the building, and an employee referral program is one of the best ways to do so.
6. Use startup showcases like The Muse
The Muse is leading a new generation of job websites that offer a behind-the-scenes look at companies’ culture and environment, while also offering coaching and advice for candidates.
Though it started as a showcase for startups, many larger or more established companies now use it to show off their culture as well.
For a fee, The Muse will come onsite and record videos of employees, take pictures around your office, create content and blog about you. They help promote your brand on a large-scale platform that savvy candidates refer to for guidance on how to work for the best companies.
So, position yourself as one of those “best” companies.
And if paying to get on the site seems unlikely for your company, don’t worry. You can at least use it as a resource for how companies sell themselves to the best candidates and implement those ideas on your own career page.
The more creative recruitment strategies you can use to your advantage, the better. The possibilities are endless, and with a little innovation, time and effort, they can be both effective and budget-friendly.
Want more tips on how to cultivate the talent your business needs to be successful? Download our free e-book, How to Develop a Top-Notch Workforce that Will Accelerate Your Business.