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Six Tips for Attracting the Best Candidates as a Small to Medium Size Business

With the unemployment rate hovering around 4.3 percent, there’s no mistaking we are in a job-seeker’s market. The most qualified job applicants have their pick of companies—a fact that makes it challenging for employers to nab the best talent. If you’re a small to medium size business (SMB), you may find yourself scrambling to compete against bigger and better-known employers. It’s especially tough in this noisy digital environment where there are numerous options for posting jobs that vie for the job-seeker’s attention.

What can an SMB do to attract job applicants who are the cream of the employment crop? Use these six powerful, proven tips to put yourself in contention.

  1. Think Like a Marketer

SMB employers should approach talent recruitment as if they are marketing a product. The product, in this case, is your company. Just as you have a specific branding message for your products and services, you also should develop a specific branding message for yourself as an employer.

The old marketing adage of “sell the sizzle, not just the steak” is a good guideline for attracting top talent. Start by writing compelling job descriptions that not only define the position, but also communicate your company’s culture and its values. As an SMB marketer, you don’t have the financial resources of large employers, but you can still effectively use low-cost options like social media and online videos to communicate your brand’s message.

  1. Emphasize Your Size as an Asset, Not a Liability

Never, ever apologize for the size of your company. In fact, LinkedIn data shows that professionals are more likely to leave large companies for smaller ones rather than the other way around. These professionals cite the opportunity to do more challenging work and the ability to make a bigger impact as the reasons for making the switch.

The Wall Street Journal takes it a step further, identifying several other SMB selling points, including the tendency for smaller companies to be less bureaucratic and more flexible than their larger counterparts. Another point in the SMB employer’s favor comes from the Indeed Hiring Lab, which reports that interest in flexible work arrangements has surged by 58 percent in the previous three calendar years.

Small companies can ride this trend by developing a vibrant atmosphere that celebrates a culture of innovation that drives growth and success.

  1. Post to a Job Board That Offers Full Visibility

There are myriad job advertising networks available to employers, and as fintech company Kabbage points out, it’s important you put your job postings on the right platforms to reach the best candidates. For many SMB employers, the most desirable platforms are those that allow them to stretch their recruitment dollars. This can be accomplished by advertising on pay-per-click sites instead of those charging an upfront fee.

The first job advertising network to launch a pay-per-click network was Indeed, and in the ensuing 11 years, this model has proven effective in ensuring employers get the job leads for which they are paying.

  1. Know Your Criteria—and Stick to It

Just because the job market is tight doesn’t mean you should loosen your hiring standards. For example, if a job requires several years of experience, don’t broaden your search to include newbies just so you can attract more applicants.

Defining your criteria when writing your job descriptions is a good first step, but make sure you follow through in the interview process by emphasizing what it will take for your potential candidates to be a success in the job. Stick to your criteria but also stress to job candidates that they will have a certain amount of autonomy in fulfilling their duties. That is an effective way of attracting talented employees who, when given the latitude, can improve your company and help it grow.

  1. Lean on Powerful Tools to Screen Top Candidates

The latest Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) will help ensure that you are interviewing candidates based on real information and not a “gut feeling.” Not only does an ATS add efficiency to the recruitment process, it also can improve the quality of your hiring by using pre-identified standards for identifying and selecting the best candidates for your job openings.

  1. Company Culture is Key

When culture is a priority you attract the right talent and retain them. Indeed.com offers a complimentary report, Three Strategies for Building a Successful Company Culture, which helps SMBs learn how to show their company culture to new recruits and use culture to make an impact with new employees. Download this today and learn more valuable tips on how culture plays a role in attracting the right talent.

Using these tips to their maximum advantage, a SMB employer will stack up well against bigger employers. Market your company effectively, put the right processes in place, and you’ll be able to attract the best applicants even in this tight market.

Photo Credit: Notingenio Flickr via Compfight cc

Fixing Your Company’s Social Media Mistakes

If you are a small-to-medium business, chances are you are doing social media wrong. Your follower base is small, and there are only a few sporadic comments on posts. Let’s take a look at what you are doing, and how to increase followers and engagement.

Where’s the blog? 

“Social media” means Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and a dozen other platforms. But, when you post content on there, you occasionally want to link back to a longer blog post. If your company does not have a blog, there’s nothing to link to. This is the pillar holding up your social media, and creating or improving your blog is one of the most important steps in the process.

No matter the industry, show your expertise by writing articles both in general and in niche categories. For example, discuss recent news in your industry, and give your company’s expert opinion and analysis to prove you are the right company for potential clients.

Sporadic posting 

If you already have a blog, but the last post was from two months ago, your company isn’t much better off than not having a blog at all. The University of Alabama at Birmingham Collat School of Business cites that business owners being too busy is one of the top reasons they don’t post to social media. But not engaging means losing out on more prospective clients or customers, and easily spreading your company’s name.

About 69 percent of the American public uses social media, with 68 percent of adults using Facebook. If your demographic skews younger, 88 percent of Americans ages 18-29 use Facebook, while 59 percent of that demographic uses Instagram. In other words, posting to social media potentially means a large number of eyes on your content.

Vilfredo Pareto and the 80/20 Principle

Material wealth. Peas in pea pods. Products that make a company’s profit. How much of Italy was owned by a part of the population at the turn of the 20th century? These four things all have a ratio of 80/20. This principle was discovered by economist Vilfredo Pareto in the 1800s, but it still holds up. Today, it is most often used in a business setting.

In this context, it means not making promotional articles. In short, 80 percent of your content is not focused on being promotional. Instead, it simply engages your audience, inviting comments and shares. For example, discussing migration patterns in America or providing an infographic of entrepreneurial statistics. The key is to offer valuable information to readers — or at least post something interesting — rather than promoting your newest product or service repeatedly. SEO giant Moz refers to this as the “BuzzFeed Approach.” Here’s another example: Red Bull doesn’t just splash their energy drink and logo across every post; their audience wants to see extreme sports. Take a look at their Instagram videos: Downhill skateboarding with neither a can of Red Bull or the logo in the video has more than 618,000 views. The other 20 percent of what your company posts can be promotional content that showcases services you offer, a new product, or a sale. Even so, provide information that will benefit the consumer. This metal detector company explains what the best metal detectors for finding gold are while providing products that they sell that fulfill that role. It’s promotional but still informative. These posts can also point to a landing page, as well, acting as an ad that you don’t have to pay for.

Post at the Right Time

If you want to drive engagement on a specific post, there are a few key rules to follow, especially in considering the timing of the post. For instance, Facebook users respond most to posts made on Thursdays around 1 p.m., local time. Instagram users, on the other hand, respond well to posts on Monday, at 2 a.m., 8 a.m., and 5 p.m. Going for the professional look on LinkedIn? Post at noon or 5 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday,  when most workers are on lunch or just getting off work.

Don’t Avoid Comments 

Twitter’s community can heap praise or cut to the bone in just 140 characters. Because it is so easy and quick to craft a tweet, and because other major corporations will respond, Twitter has ushered in a new avenue for customer and client support. Microsoft’s @XboxSupport, for example, is well-known for quickly addressing issues of its customers. Use Twitter to your advantage, fielding a Q&A session, or just answered random questions throughout the day. Set aside an hour once a week, announce to your followers that you or your customer support team are available, and use a hashtag unique to your company to easily find questions.

Follow these tips, and your social media game will be strong. You’ll have plenty of followers eagerly awaiting your next quality post (and they don’t mind occasionally seeing your listings promoted). They’ll be happy with Q&A sessions, learning more about the real estate industry, and remember your name when they need a real estate agent to buy or sell a house.

Photo Credit: Recent Magazine Flickr via Compfight cc