Small Businesses Have Hiring Advantages

The biggest recruiting mistake that start-up companies and small business make is bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Start-up companies often don’t realize they have a competitive advantage. These smaller companies, along with many small businesses, are more innovative, more nimble, and more exciting places to work. That is a huge opportunity when trying to find the needle in the proverbial talent pool haystack. But that advantage alone is not enough to win the war for talent. Start-up companies often make these 3 mistakes that cripple their ability to recruit faster and hire smarter.

1. Don’t use employee referrals. The number one mistake companies make is shortchanging the value of employee referrals. If a business uses referrals, most aren’t doing a very good job. It’s well documented that candidates who are referred by employees, vendors, and customers turn out to be the best employees. Hands down, employee referrals are the best source for getting more top performing employees. Go to your best employees and ask them “how would we find you again? Would I find you on LinkedIn, Pinterest, Facebook,” asks HR expert John Sullivan, “and what would make you excited about applying here?” The best candidates might not be hanging out in the traditional places either. It might be the movie theater or a restaurant for a customer service rep and a professional event for salespeople and other specialists.

But why stop at employees? Why not use vendors, suppliers, and customers as sources of good talent too? These channels are vested in your success. Use them for free market research on where to find your next super-star employee.

2. Don’t post job descriptions to job boards and expect to attract top talent. Recruiting top talent requires so much more than posting a job description to a job board. At one time posting an ad in the Sunday newspaper was considered the best source of talent. In the 1990s, Monster and Careerbuilder were the best places to find good talent. Today people who respond to these job descriptions based postings represent 10 to 15 percent of available talent and generally represent the poorer performing candidates.

3. Don’t wait until you have an opening. Effective recruiting is seeking top talent continuously. For most companies, hiring is reactive. The result is that many start-ups spend too much time “firefighting.” They post the job, interview quickly, and then pick from the best of the worst.

Every start-up and small business must ask themselves: How many candidates do you have ready to hire? If your top employee resigned today, how many candidates do you have standing in line to fill that position? The answer for small organization is often “none.” That puts a lot of companies in constant crisis mode.

Recruiting for skilled workers takes time. It’s the difference between fast food and home cooked meals. One is readily available and satisfies your immediate pain. But the satisfaction is short-lived and leaves you wanting more. The home cooked meal uses the best ingredients, takes time to prepare, and turns the science of cooking into an artful experience.

Start-ups and small companies just need to make the business case that it’s worth the time to recruit and then use the best tools. The best way to win the war for talent is use data from past experiences, build and nurture relationships through employees, customers, and vendors, connect with future talent using social media, and mine sources like Crossroads.

The bottom line – the most successful companies are constantly on the lookout for top talent.

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