The competition for talent in 2019 is fierce for everyone, for start-ups, small businesses and global brands alike and it will be more competitive in the future especially for tech. Employer branding and recruitment marketing is crucial for attracting talent, especially among unknown brands. Shift your mind-set when you hire, like when you came up with the brilliant idea for your business! Hire with the same thoughtfulness, creativity and problem-solving attitude like when you were creating the building blocks of your business. Start-ups and small businesses have some advantages over the big guys. I’ve worked for 2 start-ups in my career, a few global organisations and had small business clients; these are some of the advantages us little guys have:
Less red tape and politics means faster decision execution
Timeliness and accurate decision-making is important when it comes to hiring. Have a process, be prepared, and know what you need. If you don’t have time to go through the whole process, break it down among your team or engage a service like *Recruitloop (time saving and they can help you with any part of the process, charging by the hour, not percentage of the salary package). Do prepare before going to market. Big businesses, have approval and hiring processes that are drawn out with layers of approvals and validation. I had a client in my portfolio with a three month minimum recruitment cycle. For some industries, this is the norm. Don’t make it your norm. Take advantage of your size and agility.
Room for creativity
You the owner/founder have creative space to decide on the position description, the benefits and outcomes required for the new position. With the exception of statutory requirements and budgetary constraints, it’s pretty much up to you to market the position to benefit someone’s career and get the best return on investment. How you structure the remuneration and benefits package, what learning opportunities there are in the role, what the position entails (be carefully creative with this, I’ve seen some weird ones that actually limit chances of attracting talent). Engage with a consultant to clarify your employment brand and value proposition if you don’t have time, but make sure you put some time into this. There are some really good resources out there for hiring talent; one is **Lou Adler’s site for performance based hiring, more targeted at recruiters, but there are some good free resources on the site too.
Key support roles when you are building an organization are opportunities to build your leadership pipeline. With the right story, you can attract talent overlooked by the big organisations. There are many juniors and grads out there that don’t fit or follow the mainstream template of the perfect candidate, but they hold attributes that make great future leader, innovator or trainer. Choose the free thinkers with agile minds that are adaptable for your environment and have the resourcefulness to work with what you’ve got. Inexperience isn’t a bad thing. It brings fresh thinking and ideas that experience can confine. Hire right, give someone the opportunity to establish a career and they could be part of your leadership team or fly the coop and come back later to take the lead.
Paid internships are another way to identify undergrads and non-university institutions for your talent pipeline. Getting involved in experience programs with universities is another way to identify your future workforce as well as give students much needed experience for their future.
Alternative talent engagements
Freelancers are a great way to fill skills gap in the organization for short-term projects until you can afford a full time person for a specific need in the organization. Like hiring decisions, there is often red tape and processes to go through for larger organisations, whereas smaller businesses can access experts quickly and on demand.
Industry veterans want to share their expertise with you
Just as people early in their career often see big brands as career opportunities. On the flip side, those with more experience and an entrepreneurial streak, bored with big business bureaucracy could see start-ups as an opportunity to share their experience to make an impact faster. Sell your story and your vision with authenticity. Those with the same values and urge to solve the same problems will be curious. Reach out to people with the experience alignment to your organisation’s goals.
Being the small player or unknown brand isn’t such a bad thing. Some people thrive in the fast-paced, intimate team environment of a start-up. They’re the talent that large organisations miss. Being a yet to be known brand with a compelling story is an opportunity to give people an impactful career journey.