You Don't Have to Be a Big Company to Appeal to Job Applicants
On-site child care, exercise facilities, a monthly guest speaker series and access to box seats at sporting events are among the perks large companies use to convince top talent to join their teams. Such incentives can be quite effective, too. However, just because your company is smaller doesn't always mean you're at a disadvantage when recruiting.
To tip the scales in your favour, emphasize the benefits of working for a small or midsize firm. Here are some common assets worth promoting to candidates:
- Professional growth: Job responsibilities often are less rigid at smaller companies. Employees may be expected to jump in and help wherever needed, which can translate into exposure to a variety of new and interesting projects. Also, a smaller team offers greater opportunity to learn about and assume more challenging tasks earlier in a career. This can be appealing to individuals eager to put their knowledge to the test and advance professionally.
- A clear role in the company's success: Employees of a small company often can more easily see the effects of their work. Their ideas usually must go through fewer approvals, allowing good suggestions to be implemented more quickly. As their proposals come to fruition, employees can witness how their ideas change the way the organization handles its daily business.
- Access to management: Talking to a small business owner or president can be as simple as walking down the hallway and casually sitting down for a discussion. The management structure usually isn't as layered as at larger firms, so employees can interact with and learn from leadership on a more regular basis.
- Credit for work: Office politics may be less of a concern simply because there aren't as many employees. If someone makes a notable contribution, they're more likely to get credit because it's easier for everyone to be aware of who made the contribution. That makes it more difficult for someone to take responsibility for an achievement that wasn't really their own.
- Family atmosphere: At small firms, employees have more opportunities to get to know everyone in the organization really well, not just people in their own departments. Accounting professionals may even sit next to sales, marketing or other staff. Gaining assistance from a colleague in another group can be as simple as turning to the person in the cubicle next to you. When there's a company party, there are no unfamiliar faces or names. All of these factors can help create a feeling of being part of a family.
- Less red tape: If there's a new software application on the market that an employee thinks would be useful for the company, it can be given serious consideration by decision-makers right away. There may be fewer hoops to jump through than at a large company because the recommendation might not have to go through as extensive a review process.
Making the sales pitch
Don't wait until you begin interviewing candidates to tout the benefits of working for your smaller business. Make sure your job ads convey the appealing qualities of joining your team so the best and brightest are motivated to apply.
Also, let your people help sell your company to candidates. They are in the strongest position to talk about the everyday benefits of work life at a small firm. Be sure to schedule time for top applicants to meet with your employees during the interview process.
Remember, too, that you shouldn't have to work too hard to convince a promising candidate to join your team. If you've made a persuasive case and a competitive offer and the candidate is reluctant to say "yes," it may be best to move on. Not everyone is suited to working for a small firm, so you want to hire people who truly have the interest and motivation to be successful in your group.
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Take a close look at the human resources strategies of businesses that seem to navigate well through both good times and bad and you'll likely find they know how to staff flexibly: Many employ a mix of full-time and temporary professionals. As needs fluctuate, organizations can staff up or down more quickly and cost-effectively than those with teams composed entirely of full-time employees.
Some of these employers find they have another advantage as higher workload demands become sustained. With direct access to skilled talent for full-time roles, they may not need to search for outside candidates. By engaging temporary personnel for prolonged periods or through repeat engagements, they're able to see these workers in action, interacting with permanent staff in the company's unique work environment.
However, just because a first-rate interim professional is working at your firm doesn't guarantee he or she will want to join full time. Like any employee, temporary staff members should be made to feel valued and given the support necessary to succeed. Here are some tips:
- Prepare a workspace that says “welcome.” No one wants to show up for their first day of work and be presented with an untidy or inadequately appointed work area. Give interim personnel a space to call their own and make sure all necessary equipment, supplies and communication tools, such as email and intranet access, are up and running.
- Provide onboarding activities. The first days and weeks on the job are critical to any new employee's ability to fit in and become as productive as possible. This is also true of temporary staff members whom you want to evaluate for a full-time role. When an interim team member starts work at your firm, take time to provide a mini-orientation. Give the person a tour of the office, introduce them to key personnel, explain how your department works, and provide a brief summary of policies, procedures and expectations.
- Recognize their efforts. Every professional wants to be commended for a job well done. Be sure to give kudos to temporary personnel just as you would full-time workers. If they believe their contributions are appreciated and truly make a difference to the organization, these employees will be inclined to work even harder for your firm – and maybe, for the long term.
Businesses that adopt a mix of temporary and core staff will benefit not only from the flexibility project workers allow, but also because the talent they need on a permanent basis is often already within reach. Being able to hire people familiar with the organization and their work means firms can move fast on new business opportunities – without fear of overstaffing and with less risk of hiring mistakes.
If a temp-to-hire strategy is an appropriate approach to staffing for your firm, take time to make your interim professionals feel like part of the team. They may be more likely to say "yes" if you decide to extend an offer of full-time employment.
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