How to attract top talent to SME's (Part One)

In the ongoing candidate driven market it is inevitable that many smaller businesses are having to compete with some of the industry’s biggest and brightest brands for the same talent. Our specialist recruitment service is here to make sure that you do find the very best talent for every role that you need to recruit for – but in the meantime,  we’ve put together a list of actions to help your SME business to hold its own in this competitive market place:

1. Review your website

Every recruiter will advise their candidates to check out a potential employer’s website as well as those of their competitors too. If you want to attract good candidates in today’s market you need to make sure your site contains enough information and news for all audiences. Certainly provide enough relevant information so interviewees can use it to demonstrate they have made an effort to learn about your company.

Bigger brands and more established companies can perhaps get away with having a website with limited content because they make national news and there is normally a lot of information to be found online about them. If your business is still in its infancy, you may be in a development or expansion stage, but you may find it more difficult to gain national news coverage, or indeed any coverage outside of niche publications with limited readership, unless you invest heavily in a good PR consultant. So what do you have to lose by giving all the relevant information about your organisation on your own website or through social media?

2. Identity

Really promote your company’s identity – perhaps the story that has gotten your company to where it is today is really inspirational. Making the most of this can give smaller companies a competitive edge. Perhaps you want to show how and why your company started and what rapid success you have enjoyed, or demonstrate ambitious (yet realistic) plans for future growth. Some top talent are motivated by progress and development – there are clearly more opportunities for this in an SME than a big-brand household name company – so this is certainly one way to attract top talent to your SME.

3. Show how much top-talent means to your company

It is inevitable that big-brand names will dominate conversation and the search engine for their sector. This does not mean that you have no chance when it comes to attracting top talent. For many job-seekers, core values are just as (if not more) important when applying for a job than choosing a company that has a name that they are familiar with.

Ensure that you have a section on your website, and at least a paragraph in the job description, that sells your company story. A tight-knit community feel is something that big-name companies are widely known for disregarding – demonstrate that you will really cherish, promote and nurture top talent. This can hold real weight with prospective employees, making them feel like they could become a really significant part of your organisation rather than just a cog in a wheel.

4. Have ambition

Having a clear vision of where the company is going and having well-grounded plans for what it wants to achieve over one, three and five years will clearly show candidates what type of organisation they could be joining and, more importantly, how they can contribute to that vision. Be happy to communicate these – make them part of your key marketing messages.

Just make sure they are realistic, otherwise it is going to sound brilliant to candidates until the surface is scratched. Unrealistic exaggeration is one of the fastest ways of alienating employees, both potential and existing, as those who have been attracted by the ‘pie in the sky’ thinking will quickly realise it was just that and look to jump ship.

5. Publicise your successes

If you want to attract the best of the best, you have to prove to them why they should choose you.

A really simple and effective way to do this is getting clever with your social media – this is a good way of gaining free publicity, whilst increasing your brand awareness:

  • regular posting – celebrate your successes, demonstrate any team / community activities
  • informative posting – demonstrate you are aware of industry news, and any current affairs or legislation that impact your workplace.
  • inclusive posting – get everyone in your company involved in promoting how amazing you all are: positive testimonials really do speak for themselves.
  • interact – don’t only post to your own page, but make sure you get involved with other relevant names within your sector. Comment on LinkedIn, retweet on Twitter – you know the drill.

Sending short press releases to online news portals is also a great way to publicise your success. News items will be indexed by Google, which means future candidates will also be able to see historic news stories on your business, giving them an informed impression about your organisation.

6. Offer a competitive package

Especially if you are trying to attract applicants from market leaders, or you are looking for ‘rare’ skills, you will need to have something to initially capture their interest, or at least open up lines of communication for the future.

If you can’t do anything about the base salary, consider other options which might have a value to prospective employees such as working from home or flexi-hours. The costs to the business are negligible, but especially if your business is located off the beaten track, this simple option could help you attract and engage a wider selection of people. And we’ve all heard stories about individuals who took a risk joining a start up in return for share options, and went on to make a fortune!

These are just a few ideas to ensure you can attract top tier talent to your SME organisation – look out for Part 2 coming soon. If you’d like to discuss anything in this article in more detail, then please contact us today on 0191 477 4733.


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