Recruitment can be a big barrier for small firms. The main reason for this is cost. However, it is a self perpetuating problem. By skimming on the cost you are more likely to get someone in that is not the right candidate for the job. As well as the cost of finding this candidate there will be costs associated with training them and a cost to the business due to the time taken for them to get up to full speed and reach their peak productivity. If the right candidate wasn't found in the first place then they are more likely to leave and the firm will have to endure the whole cost again. They may as a result be even more likely to skim again on the cost of finding someone!
Traditionally small firms will attempt to avoid the cost of using a recruitment specialist and advertising. They are also less likely to attract direct approaches from candidates as they are a small company. They are more likely to use what is referred to as “tried and tested" methods such as word of mouth marketing which is “free" at first glance but not if you take in to consideration what we discussed in the first paragraph.
Another recruitment problem small firms face is they are not able to offer the salary and benefits that a lager firms is able to offer. They offer a more limited set of career opportunities that are dependent on the company growing.
They don't have the same social perks as working for a lager firm like staff nights out. Finally a smaller firm will have less resources available to them to dedicate to searching for and screening potential candidates.
All of the problems above can be placed in to two categories. Finding suitable candidates and then persuading those candidates to want to work for a smaller company. So What Can Small Firms Do About This?
First of all the small company should make a decision not to skim on the initial cost of sourcing a good list of potential candidates. It will save money in the long run and help the development of the company. In a small company taking on the right members of staff early on and motivating them can make a massive difference to its long term success.
A lot of people are researching online for vacancies these days. You can advertise on you own website. Give a little bit of thought as to what potential candidates would type in to a search engine when looking for the vacancy you have available. You can use this info to optimise the page. Make a page just about the job you have on offer. Include the closest commonly used name for the vacancy and the location e. g. “sales manager Manchester". Make sure this term appears in the title tag of the page before your company name and in headings on the page. Also include it within the main description of the page. What you are doing is in fact search engine optimisation around the vacancy you have available to help people find it within search engines.
Also consider advertising on popular job search engines like Monster Jobs. If possible get a link back to the page on your site where the vacancy is advertised (again this helps the search engine optimisation).
You should still use word of mouth marketing just don't make it your only form of advertising. Printed media is not read as often as it used to be so it you use it make sure you get it at a reasonable price and in a relevant publication. Older and therefore possibly more senior candidates may still read relevant publications but even they probably use the internet and register with recruitment agencies as well.
Finally look for recruitment agencies that may offer special deals to smaller businesses as a way of getting them on board as a client in the hope that they grow to become larger employers.
Attracting The Right Candidate
As we mentioned earlier it can be hard to attract a candidate if you are a smaller company. You should emphasise that as they are getting in with a smaller company early on they will have opportunities to grow with the company. Smaller companies may also be able to offer more flexibility and a less stressful working environment. The company structure will probably be less formal then larger companies. There will be less corporate “red tape" as there are less legal requirements for smaller companies. They will have closer relationships with the people they work with. They are more likely to be part of a close nit team.
The candidate will probably have more responsibility and will be more able to contribute in a big way to the success of the firm instead of just being one person in a sea of people.
Positions in smaller firms usually offer a wider variety of tasks so it will keep the job interesting and give them a wider range of experience. For example in larger companies there may be separate teams for admin, accounts, IT and HR but in a smaller company you may get experience of all of these as well as your main role. As the company grows the candidate would have an opportunity to specialise in one of these roles.
Finally, you as a small business owner are making a substantial investment in taking on an employee so make them aware of this and that it means you will be going to greater lengths to make sure they are comfortable, happy and productive in the company. This is more then they may get from a line manager that is just another employee within a larger company.