By Edward J. Defort
(From the April 2023 issue of The Director)
For small-business leaders, finding top talent is hard enough, but competing to hire that talent is even more difficult. Lori Dann, founder of the Presidents’ Leadership Council, an exclusive forum for small-business presidents, CEOs and partners to engage and grow through peer support, has developed eight ways smaller employers can compete for top talent.
According to Dann, the current employment landscape makes it especially difficult for small employers to compete with large corporations. While they may not be able to throw money and traditional benefits at a candidate, however, there are ways to attract and retain top talent – and big business is missing it.
1. Hire for potential over experience.
Consider hiring a candidate based on their personality and behavior, i.e., a capable learner with initiative and integrity who can be taught the job responsibilities. They will be grateful for the opportunity and may be more loyal to the company in return.
2. Pay more attention to transferable and soft skills than quantifiable qualifications gained through training.
These are less measurable than hard skills but include such essential qualities as negotiation, problemsolving, listening, teamwork, confidence, adaptability and empathy.
3. Don’t draw hard lines around gaps in work history.
Gaps in work history are usually attributed to the candidate tending to non-careerrelated responsibilities that likely have enriched the person in some way. Explore the possibility.
4. Employees who feel purpose in their work are more productive, effective, resilient and healthy.
And they have staying power.
5. Provide growth opportunities.
Every candidate wants to understand what they must know to do the job, how they will be supported and what opportunities are available for growth.
6. Be a mentor.
The greatest benefit to working for a small business is the opportunity for mentorship. Imagine hiring a candidate who meets all the points above and then teaching that person the job, the business, the methodologies employed, even the entire industry. Not only will they be set up for a long and successful career, but tremendous loyalty to the business will also be built.
7. Allow for job crafting.
Be open to letting employees adjust their work parameters to align with their skills and preferences while still meeting company expectations.
8. Offer low- or no-cost employee benefits.
These could include a voluntary benefits menu, savings program, employee assistance program, additional paid time off or tuition reimbursement for work-related education.
"[The] feedback we get from our membership is that in today’s very competitive world, to find talent, small employers have to find other ways to make their jobs more appealing to candidates," stated Dann.
"Oddly, it isn’t necessarily about money anymore. There are lots of reasons people choose a job, and that’s the trick – figuring out just what those reasons are."
The Presidents’ Leadership Council is an exclusive membership organization for small-business presidents, CEOs, founders and partners who run businesses with three to 50 employees.
Forums of peers, in non-competing industries, are formed and meet monthly in a strictly confidential environment to work through challenges and opportunities together.
The Presidents’ Leadership Council is designed to meet the unique needs of the small-business leader.
Upcoming Webinar on This Topic
Navigating the Future of Funeral Service: Strategies for Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent
Wednesday, February 07, 2024 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM CST
Free for Members, $79 for Nonmembers, 1 CE Hour