4 ways that nimble SMEs can lure talent away from big rivals

Recruitment is often the biggest headache in today’s saturated jobs market. Matt Foster says SMEs can have the edge over cumbersome big firms

The total cost of the UK skills shortage to British business is £6.3 billion a year according to The Open University. A large portion of businesses in the UK are SMEs bearing the brunt of this cost. Many SMEs feel they are unable to compete with the large companies that monopolise the best talent by offering higher salaries and spending more on their recruitment strategies.

However, if SMEs consider their long-term talent pipeline they will be able to compete against large companies. In fact, SMEs can offer more responsibilities with a role, a more authoritative job title, more career opportunities and impressive perks.

What measures can an SME implement to improve in recruiting the top talent?

Look at interview process and candidate experience

Candidates expect a smooth process that resonates with them. A bad candidate experience will lead to bad word-of-mouth and threaten your ability to attract top talent. Make sure that you keep candidates in the loop and that you don’t keep them waiting on an answer unnecessarily.

You can also offer interview times outside normal office working hours so that they don’t have to use a precious day’s leave to attend your interview. On the interview day, show them the desk they would work at and introduce them to the staff they would be working with. All these things can help to give the candidate a more positive feeling for a company and help them visualise somewhere they will be working for a long time.

Offer shareable extras to stand out

Communicating the perks during the recruitment process is crucial, and most companies will have them advertised on the website, job description page or other forms of communication with candidates before reaching the interview stage.

Company perks can be taken a step further than this and be thought of as a marketing investment in the company. Many candidates will analyse the company’s social media feeds before attending an interview, so the business should encourage positive messages to populate the feed and entice potential candidates.

Investing in highly shareable and creative company perks for existing staff can reap benefits from staff sharing imagery and videos of the company perk on their social media feed. Imagery being shared by the existing workforce immediately opens the social reach as a desirable company to work for.

Appeal to the next talent generation – Generation Z

The oldest in Generation Z are 23 years old and so many are just entering the workforce.

Millenials are today’s largest workforce so recruitment processes have long been focusing on their needs. However, SME talent recruiters need to stay one step ahead of the game – Generation Z is set to differ from the generation before it.

Whereas millennials are often thought to be idealistic with visions of working for something deeper than money, Generation Z is expected to have had the realism of watching their parents struggle financially during the “Great Recession.” Generation Z is predicted to continue to care about making a difference, but also be more concerned about financial stability and job security.

A US study found that 91 per cent of Generation Z said technological sophistication would impact their interest in working at a company. Therefore, talent recruitment teams must make their attraction efforts as digitally native as possible, not only in using social media but also mobile apps which this generation will use to find their ideal job. What is more, highlight career progression with pay rises down the line, constant training and skill development.

Use a recruitment app

Take a look at the recruitment apps available that are designed to save SMEs time and money. For example, the US mobile app Proven allows users to post messages over 100 job boards and across social media in one single post. It also gives candidates the ability to search and apply for jobs via their iPhone.

Recruitment apps can also offer advice on how to craft an engaging job post and what job boards to use to attract the best talent.

Matt Foster is a digital PR strategist with search marketing agency Distinctly