When it comes to sourcing skilled candidates, it can be difficult for SMEs to compete with larger, more established organisations. As well as having the upper hand in brand awareness, online visibility, and established hiring processes, job seekers are often attracted to the type of offers big businesses are able to put forward. All of this may lead you to believe that your small business is destined to settle for second best, but this definitely isn’t the case.
Even without the budget to hire an external recruitment agency, there are steps you can take to adapt and enhance your company recruitment plan for hiring success. While barriers to external recruitment can make navigating strategic growth difficult, internal recruitment provides opportunities to develop areas of your business that can work to reduce hiring costs in the long run.
Our recruitment guide shares innovative approaches to recruitment and retention, and covers the following:
1. Why is recruitment important?
2. What is a recruitment strategy?
3. How to create and develop a recruitment strategy
4. Six small business recruitment strategies:
- Focus on your employer brand
- Change how your write job descriptions
- Develop an employee referral scheme
- Rethink the interview process
- Show up to job fairs and events
Create videos to promote your company culture
Why is recruitment important?
In a competitive labour market, strategic recruitment is vital to business success.
Attitudes towards employment are changing. With the ‘Great Resignation’ at large, more and more people are looking for job opportunities within companies that can fulfil their professional and personal wants and needs.
Thinking short term, a recruitment plan can help to quickly streamline your company’s hiring processes.
However, your recruitment efforts play a far more important role within your organisation over the long term and help to foster a workplace culture that motivates candidates to join and stay for years to come.
The importance of recruitment for small business growth can’t be stressed enough. The main benefits of prioritizing recruiting include:
Powerful employer brand
Lower long-term hiring costs
Reduced employee turnover
Stronger company culture
What is a recruitment strategy?
A recruitment strategy is a plan that details the different steps a company will take to find, attract, hire, and onboard skilled workers. Businesses use different recruitment methods to attract qualified staff, usually determined by the type of role trying to be filled.Recruitment and employee retention go hand in hand, which makes it vital for small business recruitment strategies to include internal processes focused on improving employee engagement.
How to create and develop a recruitment strategy
The first step to developing a recruitment strategy involves clearly defining your recruitment goals and setting specific objectives for each stage of the recruitment life cycle.
Agencies often use the recruitment life cycle to describe their approach to hiring. However, full-cycle recruiting is also a model that can be valuable to small business owners who plan to manage their entire recruitment process in-house.
While the number of stages in the cycle can vary from company to company, the main steps involved include:
After identifying your overarching goals, you can start to think about the different roles your company may need to fulfil further down the line. This part of the strategy is referred to as workforce planning, which helps to:
Forecast hiring needs
Connect existing roles to future goals
Identify potential gaps
Determine necessary steps to fulfil this demand
Six small business recruitment strategies
Our SME Outlook Report 2022 found that 45% of UK businesses are struggling to find qualified workers to fill vacancies, with many business owners citing the skills shortage as a major barrier to growth.
While outsourcing recruitment processes may seem like the ideal solution, it’s not always feasible for businesses with smaller budgets.
Luckily, there are lots of alternative recruitment strategies that your business can work to develop in-house:
1. Focus on your employer brand
Digital review platforms have created greater transparency within the job market, giving candidates the power to screen prospective companies from their fingertips.
These platforms can serve as your business’s biggest advocates or critics, which can often decide whether a candidate applies to work for you.
To help increase your visibility and give candidates confidence in your company, it’s essential to focus on your employer brand and employee value proposition (EVP).
What is an employer brand?
Employer branding is a strategy businesses use to market themselves to job seekers. This branding aims to build a positive company image and send an outward message that encourages the belief that the company is a great place to work.
To achieve this reputation, your employer brand strategy should focus inward to provide existing employees with positive employment experiences.
Your EVP forms an important part of this strategy by demonstrating the specific rewards and benefits your company is able to offer its employees. Defining what your company stands for through this proposition can help attract skilled workers with aligned values.
Employer brand example - Google:
Google has become globally recognized as a company that offers significant benefits to its workforce.
Their famous 70/20/10 model gives staff the autonomy to spend a percentage of their time on training and developing their own ideas.
In addition, their career website features My Path to Google, a section of their website dedicated to showcasing personal recruitment process experiences and day to day life working as a Googler.
2. Change how you write job descriptions
First impressions are everything, and the words written in a job advertisement can make all the difference in your efforts to attract top talent.
For a small business owner with a busy workload, the prospect of sitting down to craft tailored job descriptions can feel less than appealing. However, there are steps you can take to make the process less time-consuming.
How to write a good job description:
Effective job descriptions are engaging and inclusive, prompt the right people to apply. These tips can help you avoid making common job ad mistakes that result in attracting the wrong job applicants for your roles:
Research your target candidate: When writing a job description, it’s important to think about who you’re writing for and the type of language you should use to appeal to the type of candidate you want to hire.
Emphasize company culture: Use the writing process as an opportunity to communicate your company culture. In doing so, you’ll be more likely to attract workers who will make a good cultural fit for your business.
Highlight benefits: With competition for highly qualified candidates at an all-time high, focusing on the value and flexibility your company offers can help to win over potential candidates. Flexible working models don’t only make for attractive offers; they also help to promote autonomy and benefit productivity within companies.
Be authentic: In the same way, you wouldn’t want a candidate to exaggerate their skills and achievements, it’s important to only advertise benefits that your company will realistically be able to deliver on.
Use keywords in job titles: To maximize your job description’s visibility, aim to use standard titles that will resonate with potential candidates, even if the internal names planned for the positions are different.
3. Develop an employee referral scheme
An employee referral programme is a recruitment tactic that uses a company’s existing workforce as a recruiting source.
Through employee referral, you can ask your workforce to engage with their network to recruit candidates they feel would make a good fit for your business.
While this type of strategy offers benefits to employees, employers and job seekers alike, as a small business owner, setting up an employee referral scheme could help to:
Engage your workforce
Attract high-quality candidates
Build teams with good cultural fit
Save time and money on sourcing
Although recent research into the success of employee referrals in the UK is limited, previous studies indicate this strategy offers significant benefits to employee retention, with 47% of hired referrals having been retained by companies for three years or more.
4. Rethink the interview process
Traditional recruitment processes involve face-to-face interviews that focus heavily on skills-focused drivers to screen potential candidates.
While these methods have historically proven to work well for companies, new technologies have helped to modernize the interview process and increase efficiency for both leadership managers and selected candidates.
The right interview process for your company will depend on lots of factors like your industry and the type or level of role being filled. However, there are key interview techniques that should remain consistent across all organisations:
Make candidates feel at ease: Many highly skilled workers can suffer from interview anxiety, so it’s important for hiring managers to create a relaxed and comfortable space where interviewees can shine.
Be hospitable and flexible: Attending a face-to-face interview in the UK is estimated to cost candidates an average of £41. When rethinking your interview process, consider whether onsite interviews are necessary for early-stage candidates. More often than not, video interviews should suffice.
Respect candidate’s time: Interviews often require candidates to take time off work to fit into the recruiter's schedule. Rescheduling at the last minute or turning up late for the interview shows a lack of respect for candidates' time, which can set a really bad example for the way your company does business.
5. Show up to job fairs and networking events
Attending job fairs may seem to some as a wasted exercise. Yet these events provide opportunities for employers to meet potential candidates that they may not have come across through more traditional methods of the hiring process.
Job fairs can offer significant recruitment benefits, including:
Attract local talent: In the UK, around 450 searches for ‘job fairs near me’ are made each month. Attending these fairs can help you capitalize on nearby talent without needing to pay to advertise jobs locally.
Face-to-face interaction: A candidate may seem perfect on paper, but direct social interaction can help to better determine how easily they’ll adapt to your company's culture.
Market your company: Job fairs are one of the best places to advertise your business and meet candidates of all levels - from first-time job applicants with untapped potential to experienced workers seeking a change.
Save time and money: Blocking out a couple of hours to meet candidates in a singular space can help to cut out a large chunk of time and money spent on the sourcing stage of your recruitment strategy.
6. Create videos to promote your company culture
Recruiting videos have become a popular employer branding tool used to attract top talent. These versatile recordings help to showcase company culture and values, giving potential candidates a better feel of the company they’re looking to join.
While corporate videos are often associated with expensive production costs, small businesses can create videos in-house at low cost by:
Tapping into internal talent
Styling videos to intentionally feel informal
Making use of video equipment leasing
A large number of job seekers use social media as part of their job search, and video recruiting provides a way to tap into this community at a low cost.
In addition to using videos to promote new opportunities across your social media channels, these videos can be uploaded to your website alongside job postings to increase candidate engagement.
‘Day In The Life’ videos are particularly useful additions to text advertising and can be authentically crafted to inspire candidates by appealing to their key motivators.
Create strategies that reflect the company culture you want to cultivate
Your small business may not have the same level of visibility as larger firms, but it does have the unique and exciting opportunity to customize creative recruitment strategies and build a strong, competitive brand identity that will attract passive candidates for years to come.
‘Recruiting should be viewed as a business partner, someone who is critical to the success of the business’