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Special Challenges of Small Companies

Special Challenges of Small Companies

Your company is small, but you have big plans to compete against businesses of any size. So how do you attract the best people to help with such an ambitious job? For starters, you’ll need to tailor big-company recruiting methods to suit your company’s size and culture. The same recruiting strategy that worked so well at a company pushing 20,000 and beyond will not be effective at an organization with less than 250 people, even if that small company’s growth is 300 percent in the next three years.

All recruiters have the responsibility of making sure the company’s recruiting dollars are invested in programs that give the desired results. As a recruiter for a small company, you have additional challenges. You need a sophisticated recruiting program to identify your industry’s superstars and to convince them your company is worthy of their employment.


The Best Candidates Are Passive

Most entrepreneurs spend too little time on people issues, even though they are unlikely to beat the competition without better people. If you are to win the war to attract and retain the best, you must adopt new tools and techniques. For example, stop relying so heavily on costly want ads that tend to attract low-quality applicants (especially in times of high employment). Instead, use tools that reach the very best talent. The best people are likely to be currently employed and not actively looking for a job. That means they’re passive job seekers; you need to lure away from other firms.


Stop Relying on Coincidence Hires

What are the odds that the very best candidates are reading the want ads on the day you begin recruiting? I call that a coincidence hire. Small firms can’t afford coincidence hires because bad hires have a higher relative impact due to the low overall number of employees. Don’t rely on luck; develop recruiting processes that continuously identify the best talent well before you need them. Building relationships with these candidates over time allows you to assess them over an extended period without rushing. Don’t hire strangers; hire people you have pre-assessed and presold.


You Have to Wow the Very Best

Small-business owners must realize that top talent differs from the average ability. Senior people get so many offers that you have to blow them away with opportunities. They want different things (pay for performance, challenge, control, “open book” management and opportunities to grow and learn). The best need to be asked, “What would be a better job for you?” But, beware. Once you ask them what they want, you have to deliver.


Use Better Screening Tools to Find the Best

During interviews, many entrepreneurs rely on gut instincts to select candidates. But those instincts are often wrong. Instead, why not consider using actual company problems in interviews (they are called verbal simulations) to find out how people will approach your issues after they are hired? Also, stop asking interview questions about “what you did in the past.” Ask candidates to identify possible future issues and how they would solve them. Their answers will give you vital clues about how they make decisions.


Tools to Try in a Small-Business Environment

  •  Develop an employee referral program, which can bring in more than half of your top talent annually.
  •  Rehire, former, great employees.
  •  Reward managers for great hiring and retention of top-performing talent to encourage similar practices in the future.
  •  Surf Internet chat rooms and use robots and list servers that focus on niche networks that your targeted talent might visit regularly.

You can also ask

  •  References for the names of other top people they know.
  •  Your best customers and suppliers to refer to people — or hire them.
  •  Your current employees, “How would I find you again?” Then revisit those sources to recruit similar people.

When you have a small number of employees, even one hiring mistake can be deadly. Limited budgets also mean you need to learn how the best larger firms recruit and adapt their practices to your firm. Be aggressive and try new approaches.