4 Ways Smaller Companies Can Attract Great Talent

Nov 20, 2015 1 Min Read


There are four main reasons my MBA students give me for wanting to work for the big guys versus a smaller company: prestige, salary/benefits, room for upward mobility, and security. Tough factors for the small guys to compete with for sure.

Interestingly, those conversations have been juxtaposed with interviews I’ve been doing for a mid-sized client, as we’re looking to take their social media strategy to the next level. Guess who’s applying? Rock stars from the big guys. Yup, even MBAs.

When I ask these candidates, “Why would you consider leaving ______ [insert prestigious, high-paying, great benefits, relatively secure company name here ]?” the answer is they want a place where they can move faster (less bureaucracy) and be more creative.

They want to work for folks who have a strong vision, but are wide open to new ideas (ahh… the sweet smell of confident humility as a competitive weapon).

Of course smaller doesn’t always equate to faster, more creative, or a culture of confident humility, but in this case that’s the value proposition. And it’s working. Score one for the underdogs.

1. Create a clear value proposition

Most smaller companies work this backward, reactively trying to piece together a competitive offer, or packaging their recruiting story so it looks good on paper. To truly attract and retain the best talent in your industry, you’ll need a deliberate plan.

Start with your vision: What’s most important to your ideal candidates? What do you want to be known for as an employer? Then do realistic assessment of your current state.

Nothing’s worse than telling candidates you’re fast and creative, if you’re slow and stodgy. The only way to develop a genuine and lasting value proposition is to have a realistic understanding of your gaps.

2. Sell your ‘Why’

Simon Sinek’s golden circle isn’t just about leadership and marketing, it’s vital in the talent wars. The best and brightest are looking for a “why” that matters. Be sure you can articulate yours.

3. Engage your team

The 360 interview process is working great for my client because the candidates get to talk to a lot of fired-up people. If your team’s fired up, get them involved to help interview.

If they’re remote, video interviews are a great option. Plus, your team will bring different perspectives and be a good gauge of cultural fit. Of course, if your team’s not fired up, you’ve got bigger issues.

4. Rock social media

Go hang out where the talent is. Most of the folks you really want are not looking on job boards. Showing up strong is an easy way to attract the attention of great people who might not otherwise be looking.

Your turn. What are some of the best ways smaller companies can attract great talent?

Karin Hurt is a keynote speaker, leadership consultant, and MBA professor. She has decades of experience in sales, customer service, and HR which she uses to help clients turn around results through deeper engagement. She knows the stillness of a yogi, the reflection of a marathoner, and the joy of being a mom raising emerging leaders. To contact her, email editor@leaderonomics.com. For more Try This articles, click here. 

Reposted with permission on Leaderonomics.com.

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Prethiba is passionate about impacting people through the written word. She believes that our lives are solely written by us, and thus the power to change for the better lies with us.

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