Small businesses tend to be at a recruiting disadvantage in a tight labor market because they have fewer resources to compete. However, that does not mean recruiting has to be ineffective and unproductive. Small businesses can compete for the best talent in the industry if they are willing to do what it takes.
As a company that has been involved in payroll and benefits administration for years, we have firsthand knowledge of what it takes to recruit top talent. We have seen a number of strategies that have been consistently effective regardless of how tight the labor market is. All of these strategies can be employed in the current market.
Be Financially Competitive
Human nature leads applicants to give strong consideration to salary. We can talk about other aspects of a particular job, and we should, but applicants will generally choose salary over most other considerations. Small businesses have to be prepared to be financially competitive.
Basing the salary for a particular job on the company's budget is the wrong way to go. If applicants find another company offering better pay for similar work, they will go with that company. In short, small businesses have to figure out what a particular job is worth on the open market and be willing to pay it.
Be Competitive with Benefits
Second only to salary are company benefits. Most important among those benefits is quality health insurance. For right or wrong, the Affordable Care Act has changed the way people look at health insurance. It is no longer a fringe benefit; it is a routine expectation. Small businesses have to be prepared to be competitive with their benefits packages.
Emphasize Career Paths
The days of working for the same company for 40 years before retiring are long gone. Today, the average employee works through numerous positions throughout the course of his or her career. So rather than offering applicants jobs, offer them career paths.
A career path is different in that it gives employees every opportunity to improve themselves. Some employees will take advantage of career paths to pick up certain skills before moving on to a new company. Others will be content to develop their careers with the same employers year after year.
Modern applicants are not necessarily looking for jobs. They are looking for employment opportunities that coincide with their lifestyles. In other words, work is not something they do; it is a part of who they are that coexists alongside every other facet of their lives.
What does this mean to employers? It means emphasizing how their jobs are compatible with individual lifestyles. Maybe a position offers flexible scheduling or unlimited paid time off. Perhaps a position offers job-sharing opportunities. At any rate, employers should explain how working for them can enhance applicant lifestyles.
Offer Some Form of Ownership
Today's workers want to feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. They want to be able to take ownership of their careers rather than just working for the boss. As such, employers can offer some sort of ownership model that gives employees a reason to actually work for the success of the company.
How does this help in recruiting? It motivates current employees to tell their friends and family members when a job position opens. It gives employers steady access to applicants recommended by existing employees, thereby reducing the amount of extra recruiting necessary.
Small businesses can compete even in a tight labor market. It is really just a matter of understanding how modern job applicants think. Hopefully these five tips give you a better understanding of that dynamic.