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How to Turn Your Small Business Into a Recruiting Machine

February 25, 2020

Large corporations are powerful, but that doesn’t mean your small business or startup isn’t. Many small business owners fear that well-established companies are hiring the bulk of top talent — making it a difficult game for smaller, less experienced businesses to hire highly qualified candidates. While consumer-favorite corporations appear to make up the majority of the talent market, they don’t. Over 99% of U.S. businesses are considered small with fewer than 500 employees, meaning the impact of most well-known corporations may not be as robust as we typically think.


It doesn’t take a massive corporation to attract and retain highly-qualified talent. What it does take is a proactive leadership team that is willing to make the adjustments necessary to turn your small business into a well-oiled recruiting machine. Here are a few strategies to strengthen your small business recruiting game.

You don’t need to be a Fortune 500 corporation to recruit top talent. @IQTalent lays out how to turn your #startup or small business into a #recruiting machine in their recent article: Click to Tweet

1. Have a Scalable Plan.

One of the most common mistakes small business owners and entrepreneurs make is not having any sort of recruitment plan. They feel that they are ‘too small’ to even think about creating a year-long agenda, including recruiting/hiring processes and goals. Additionally, a common argument is that sales and marketing strategies are more important; therefore, they need to take up most of their time and often a large slice of their budget. Your business’s ability to stay afloat in the first place stems from having the right employees. Without them, your success wouldn’t be possible.


Pro tip: When drafting up your company’s annual plan and goals, ensure that it demonstrates your mission and aligns with your values. This will create a framework that helps you solely pursue those that are truly qualified for your company, observing not only whether or not their skills make them a good match, but also if they’re a solid cultural fit.


Get your proactive headcount planning checklist here!


2. Put Personality Before Relevant Experience.

One of the most common mistakes made among HR leaders, no matter how small the company nor the industry, is hiring solely for experience and hard skills rather than temperament and soft skills. In a study conducted by Harvard Business Review, startup teams that reported high levels of previous relevant experience and average to low levels of passion and collective vision were weaker as a whole.


Throughout your hiring process, it’s also crucial to keep in mind that the more extensive a candidate’s experience, the higher their expectations will be for benefits and salary. While your employees deserve above average compensation for their extraordinary work, it may be difficult to scale high enough to meet their expectations realistically.


To ensure you hire for more than a resume’s bullet points, only reference the candidate’s resume for basic job qualifications. When you bring that candidate in for an interview, don’t ask more than two questions about their previous experiences. Instead, ask behavioral and personality-based questions to get a strong read on whether or not they have the positive attitude necessary for the role and a personality that aligns with your culture.


Here are some questions you’ll want to ask during your upcoming interviews:

  1. What motivates you?
  2. How have you applied X skill to an experience outside of your career?
  3. What are you passionate about?
  4. What book do you think every [name of role] should read?


While attitude and motivation are essential qualifiers to look at when hiring talent for a small business, don’t completely disregard job requirements. If you don’t trust a resume or portfolio, you can offer basic skill exams to test their abilities using platforms like Criteria or Berke. Keep in mind you shouldn’t use this as the only skill qualifier alone, as some candidates may not be great test-takers.


3. Determine What Makes an Exceptional Candidate Experience.

Why should a candidate work for YOU, and not a competing larger business? The key to attracting and hiring qualified employees begins with defining and providing an excellent candidate experience.

Most candidates have been ghosted by a company before. Being ghosted chips away at a candidate’s trust of employers and even enthusiasm for their career. Step #1 to provide a candidate experience that stands out — don’t be that company. Word-of-mouth communication and Glassdoor reviews combined spread faster than water; 84% of job seekers believe company reputation is important when making career decisions, and 74% of job seekers that have a poor candidate experience make it known either through an online review or by telling friends or coworkers. If you’re notorious for lack of communication and not following-up with candidates, you’ll struggle to receive top-notch applicants. Your company’s reputation is everything. Use it to stand out and hire your dream candidates!

Small businesses need to make their #CandidateExperience stand out from the rest. Here’s @IQTalent’s proven way of making yours unique to help you convert candidates into your next best employees. Check it out: Click to Tweet

You’ll need to be more than responsive when standing out in the crowd of other savvy startups and small businesses. Your recruiting process needs to provide something unique. Follow our suggested process:


1. Do your research.

Like a well-thought-out marketing strategy, you’ll need to start by researching what competitors are doing via Glassdoor reviews and LinkedIn posts. How can you take something successful they’ve done but make it better? Where are they getting the most complaints? (AKA, what you should NOT do).


2. Redefine hiring process stereotypes.

Applying for jobs is one of the most stressful things candidates have to deal with.

So, why not rid their stress and make what is considered to be a draining, scary process a little more enjoyable? If you’re hiring in bulk, host a coffee or lunch outing for candidates and invite those they would be working with. If you’re only hiring one person, make them feel welcome right off the bat by holding a get-to-know-the-team day with various activities around the office.


3. Make sure candidates have (in writing) a hiring timeline.

This one often gets missed by recruiters. From not disclosing what the recruiting and hiring processes look like from start to finish to falsifying what the role entails, lack of honesty will cost you your most desirable candidates. This should be included in your annual recruiting plan so all employees can easily see the ins and outs of the process and ensure the entire company stays true to it.


4. Respond to emails fast, and do NOT ghost any candidates.

Even if you know they’re unqualified or the interview was a disaster, don’t leave them hanging. Transparency is key during the hiring process (and what most candidates expect from you). If they’re not making it to the next round of interviews or you decide to go with another candidate, politely tell them why. While it often seems awkward to tell candidates what cost them the job, it’s better to be honest and provide closure and feedback that will potentially help them land an opportunity that’s a better fit. Nobody likes to be ignored. Provide all candidates with frequent updates on relevant deadlines, let them know where you are in the selection process, and give them any other relevant information.


Final Thoughts

The hunt and acquisition of exceptional talent for your small business or startup doesn’t have to be a headache. Small business recruiting success starts with proactivity and not letting these details fall through the cracks.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t have the internal bandwidth to knock out these tips, don’t give up just yet. We’ve been in the startup recruiting game for quite a while now and can confidently assist your internal team from sourcing to hiring top talent that will make your small but mighty business thrive. Talk to one of our recruiting experts today to learn more about our unique on-demand recruiting model.

The recruiting you need. When you need it. Contact IQTalent Partners today