Mar 02
Competing with the Big Guys_Research Partners

Competing With The Big Guys: Recruiting Strategies for Startups and SMEs

It’s a tight job market, especially in the tech world where it is getting even tighter. Shortages in technology talent lead to fierce wars over the best candidates. So, as a startup or SMB how do you compete in this market? Let’s face it, the big guys likely have you beat on salary, benefits, and status. But don’t despair! Money does not rule all.

Culture Over Salary

According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor across the United States, United Kingdom, France and Germany, the majority of adults prioritize culture over salary. With workplace culture being such a critical factor for candidates, building a great place to work for your employees must be a top priority for your business. After all, the big guys can’t compete with the relationship-focused, intimate culture a smaller business can offer. Not only can a great workplace culture make the recruiting job easier for you, it is also an important part of your employee retention tactic. As a key driver for employee satisfaction, a strong culture can help you reduce employee turnover. Your HR team’s involvement in your firm’s values, goals, and practices is crucial in helping you build and maintain a high-performance, well sought-after company culture.

Furthermore, large companies usually have a well-established culture that candidates are expected to fit into. Startups, however, are still working on building their culture and therefore allow employees to take a much more active part in the process and welcome different perspectives, rather than expecting candidates to conform and fit in.

Focus on Your Employer Brand

A great workplace and organizational culture is not worth very much without marketing it. Standing out from big competitors is key. So, it is incredibly important for smaller businesses to define their employer brand and market it across all channels to attract the best talent. You can read more about this topic in our recent blog “Employer Branding for Startups and SMEs”, which focuses on the importance of employer branding and offers tips on how to build a good employer brand.

Prioritize Passive Candidates

It is a massive mistake to simply rely on job boards to attract talent to your brand. This market is much too competitive, and you have to do the work to find the candidates rather than expect to be found. This is often a challenge for startups because recruiting teams are small or still non-existent. If they do have a recruiting team, it is likely drowning in requisitions and juggling multiple hiring managers. Additionally, they may not be sourcing experts who know how to uncover overlooked talent, which leads to them looking at the same candidates the competition is looking at. In such cases, outsourcing some of the work might be a good idea. At Research Partners, we offer talent mapping and pipelining services to help businesses fill roles faster. I know, I am biased, but our job is to help you overcome hiring challenges so that you don’t lose the talent war.

Creative Benefits

Many of the large businesses are offering standard benefits like health and life insurance, retirement accounts, paid vacation and sick time. So, be creative with the perks that you offer and try to stand out from corporate businesses. Flexible working hours, for example, is a great benefit because it won’t cost you any more money to allow your employees to move their hours around in a way that works better for them. Other perks, like travel discounts, pet health insurance and pawternity leave, or remote working opportunities, are fantastic ways to show your appreciation for employees and attract top talent. Get creative!

Though hiring the best talent and standing out from big competitors can be challenging for startups and smaller businesses, attracting game-changing employees is far from impossible. A bonus to having a great work culture and creative benefits is that employee referrals will likely increase, lowering cost-per-hire and time-to-fill. And there is one thing we know for sure; top-performers attract top-performers.

About The Author

Natalie Heilling is an International Executive Search Consultant and Co-Founder of Research Partners running various recruitment campaigns across Europe, North America, and Asia while helping clients reach their hiring targets with peace of mind. Natalie has worked in Technology and eCommerce for the last 20 years and helped US companies confidently establish themselves in Europe and emerging markets.

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