Hiring Tips for a Competitive Market
By: Matt Bocan, Franchise Owner Express Employment Professionals

Even with the current job shortage, many small- to mid-sized businesses are still facing the age-old problem of finding good people to add to their teams. The Washington Post reports that “60% of small business owners and managers say finding skilled workers is their company’s greatest challenge when it comes to hiring and managing staff.” The majority of the blame for this can be placed on today’s skills gap – the current phenomenon of a country-wide mismatch between employers’ needs and job candidates’ abilities. And, with so little top talent out there, it pits small- and medium-businesses against large corporations in the hiring battle.

So, what’s a business to do? Competing against big business and attracting quality workers can feel impossible, but it doesn’t have too. Small business owners and leaders will need to put a little extra thought and effort into their own hiring processes to continue to see success.

Recognize That Pay Isn’t Your Strongpoint
The first thing businesses have to realize is that money will probably not be what attracts quality employees to their doors. Most small- to medium-size companies don’t have the budgets to compete against large corporations in the area of pay, and that’s okay. “That’s where small businesses have the competitive edge,” Steve Strauss, author and senior small-business columnist at USA Today, said. “If you offer a fun place to work, people like coming to work, they’re engaged – that makes a difference. They feel like they’re listened to and they like what they do. If you can give them that, you’re ahead of the game.”

According to Yast, an online time-tracking service, employees’ top reasons for staying with their current employer are because they enjoy the work, they have work-life balance and they feel connected to the organization. Small businesses are more likely to offer those benefits to their top candidates than their large business competitors.

Pinpoint and Play to Your Strengths
Identifying the assets you have to offer employees is the next step. An article from Fast Company echoes that same sentiment. “By truly understanding what your team and potential candidates desire, you can better compete with the larger companies that appear to offer it all. Take a close look at what your team is truly passionate about inside and outside of work. Talk to them and get their feedback on what means the most to them.” Business leaders can then take this knowledge and use it to attract the talent they need. And small businesses really do have something to offer top performers. The Washington Post recommends pointing out to candidates that within a smaller company, they have more opportunities to develop as a professional, while having greater visibility in front of, and access to, the leaders of the business.

Don’t Limit Your Candidate Pool
Just as business leaders are asking candidates to keep an open mind about what they want from an employer, they must also keep an open mind about the type of candidates they’re considering. In an article on Forbes.com, Ken Sundheim proposes that employers should consider broadening their requirements to bring in more qualified applicants. “The number one thing that prevents companies from procuring the most talented people is overly stringent requirements,” Sundheim said. “The more specific the needs of an employer, the less applicant choices they’re going to have, the more expensive the employee is going to be and the longer the job search will take.”

Focusing on personality, culture fit and potential, rather than just strictly experience, education and skills, will greatly widen the candidate pool and allow businesses to find amazing employees they might have otherwise bypassed.

There are positives and negatives to every size and type of business, but constantly losing the hiring battle doesn’t have to be a struggle for smaller companies. Talking about what the business can offer, marketing its assets, and loosening position requirements will allow small- to mid-size companies to square off with big businesses in the battle for top talent. Because in the end, hiring the best candidate is more important to the success of the small business than the big, which means this is a battle small businesses have to learn to win.

Express Employment Professionals Winston-Salem Q4 Update:
Our Pay It Forward Holiday Hiring Drive starts Nov 3rd! This year we’ve partnered with the Winston-Salem chapter of Modern Woodman of America who has generously offered to match every donation given; all donations will go to Crisis Control Ministry! To find out more on how you can get involved, call Matt at 336-306-8529.