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On-site childcare, stocks, hefty bonuses, and a Starbucks in the lobby for good measure. How can small businesses compete with that when recruiting highly skilled workers? It’s doable, of course, but many small businesses unintentionally sabotage their efforts.

Talent recruitment and retention is a big topic, and we won’t bite off more than we can chew today. In this post, we’ll focus on what your small business already has going for it, and how to communicate those advantages to potential new hires.

The Wall Street Journal points out a handful of built-in advantages small companies should leverage in their recruitment:

  1. Less bureaucracy and closer relationships between leadership and employees.
  2. More breadth in job responsibilities versus highly specialized roles in large companies.
  3. Many entrepreneurs treat their workforce like an extension of their family.
  4. More flexibility, job diversity and growth potential.
  5. Jobs are frequently tailored to an individual’s skills, interests and needs.

Businesses of all sizes must make a compelling case why candidates should choose to work there. For small businesses, “if you’re hiring an executive, that person is usually going to want equity in exchange for the risk,” the author writes. “For a middle manager, you have to convey that your company has staying power. For entry-level workers, you should show opportunities for growth.” Regardless of the position, the author adds, you need to spell out how your candidate’s skills can contribute to the success of the business.

Touting the virtues of your workplace to a new recruit typically starts with the job ad. When crafting your messaging, avoid generic language like “lots of opportunity, great place to work,” says Susan Strayer LaMotte, founder of exaqueo, in an interview with Monster. “You have to focus on what’s yours ¾ what makes your company great that’s different from everyone else.”

Talking about what your company does and how it serves its audience is just as important, because people want to feel like they’re doing meaningful work and serving a cause greater than themselves.

Your messaging should also reflect your company culture and the personality of the person you want to attract. “If you use ‘fast-paced, hard-hitting, take-no-prisoner’ code words in the ad, then I would expect the yelling and screaming type of applicant,” says Paul Downs, founder of Paul Downs Cabinetmasters, in the same interview with Monster. Is that the type of worker you want?

Today’s takeaways:

  • Communicate small business advantages: flexibility, growth potential, close relationships and access to leadership, breadth and customization of job roles.
  • Write job ads clearly, with no generic language or convoluted corporate-style speak.
  • Stress what makes your organization different. Use language that reflects your culture and values.

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