It is 100% a candidate market right now. I am sure I don’t have to tell you that if you’re reading this.
People are leaving companies for new opportunities, or they are leaving to not work at all after having a year of reflection. Companies are opening back up, but some are struggling to find candidates and retain employees. In a candidate market, small businesses are forced to look inward at what changes need to be made to attract and retain employees. As a small business, keep in mind that if you are having trouble finding candidates and retaining talent, it’s probably not that the talent pool is the issue.
Now is absolutely the time to do a company gut check and rethink company policies & practices, from recruiting to separation and everything in between, including culture and even pay practices. You can start by asking some basic questions - What makes your small business unique and special? Why would someone want to work there? And ultimately my favorite question… WHY? Why do we do things this way? Why do we have that policy? You get the picture. If you can’t answer the “why” or if you are answering it with “because that’s the way we’ve always done it” there definitely needs to be a change.
Let’s start with the recruiting and hiring process. That is where the candidate experience starts, and where they get a glimpse into your small business. If that process is a bad experience for the candidate, they will see that as sneak peak into what everyday working life will be like if they were hired.
Here are a few tips to get started:
Plan ahead – Take the time upfront to map out the recruiting process so it’s easier for the hiring manager but also sets expectations with the candidate. Know who is involved in the process, who is responsible for asking which questions, and sketch out a timeline for the recruiting process.
Set a budget – If you don’t already have a range established for the salary of the position, do that ahead of time so that the salary information can be provided to candidates. A lot of candidates will not apply for a job that doesn’t have the salary listed in the job posting. At minimum, if the salary range isn’t in the job posting, share with the candidate at the first point of contact to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Don’t ask for salary history – Post the salary range in the job posting and be upfront about it. Why waste your time and the candidates' time by going through an entire process to find out that the numbers don’t match up? Pay should be based on the position, qualifications, and company budget - not what they made at a previous job or company. This is particularly true for small businesses with candidates coming from larger companies.
Keep the job posting simple – A job posting is not a job description. A job posting should highlight the company and the key components of the role, while relating to the candidate in such a way that they can see themselves working at the company in that role.
Identify your Employee Value Proposition – What do you have to offer employees? This doesn’t necessarily mean traditional benefits or things like that. It could be culture, flexibility, opportunities to work on innovative projects, non-traditional benefits or company core values.
Ramp up your marketing – Customers aren’t the only ones looking at your small business website, social media channels, and any news stories. Candidates are looking at this information as well. They are looking at how the company is represented, what their involvement is in the community and where they stand on social issues.
During this time when people are leaving their current or previous employment and looking for new opportunities, it is important that businesses - small businesses in particular - pay close attention to the way they are interacting with potential candidates. The hiring process gives candidates a glimpse into the way your small business operates, and can make or break their decision to work with you.