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5 Hiring Hacks for Small Businesses That Need to Stretch Their Budgets

Abby Carter
Abby Carter

Small businesses may lack resources at times, but that's no excuse for recruiting woes. Use these hiring hacks to improve your recruitment process and bring on the best talent.

  • Small and midsized businesses are strapped for cash in many areas, including recruiting.
  • But a lack of resources – financial and otherwise – doesn't need to be an excuse for not building an effective and credible team.
  • For nonenterprises, that means adopting tactics and mindsets that enable them to recruit and adequately engage those candidates before their large colleagues can.

Finding and keeping the best talent has never been easy. It became the top concern for HR professionals this past year, with more than two-thirds reporting struggles with their recruitment and retention efforts. While the reasons for those struggles run the gamut, they often relate to attracting qualified candidates (49%), retaining star employees (49%) and issues with the talent-culture fit (42%).

For small and midsize businesses (SMBs), any difficulties with finding talented hires end up wasting precious resources. Worse yet, the cost of a bad hire is equal to 30% of the hire's first-year salary – without factoring in the potential losses in revenue and time associated with onboarding the wrong person for a job. Given the possible consequences, why do so many SMBs run into problems with talent acquisition?

No stone left unturned

Part of the problem has to do with the lack of resources hinted at earlier. Very few SMBs have a dedicated hiring manager, which leaves respective department heads responsible for recruiting and hiring for their teams. This might not sound like such a bad thing, but leaders don't often have the experience to source quality applicants, nor do they have the time necessary for successful recruitment efforts.

With such limited bandwidth available, candidate engagement can quickly take a hit. This can be especially true when you're looking at more than one candidate for a given role. Communication becomes one-sided, updates on the application process slow and the best recruits eventually lose interest or get snatched up by other businesses.

As an SMB leader, you must look at tools and strategies that offer more bang for your buck than one-off job postings that frequently yield unqualified talent pools. Instead of quick fixes, invest in more strategic solutions that make sure you're only sourcing from the cream of the crop.

There may be some upfront costs, but you'll save money and time in the long run, and give yourself a shot at a stronger ROI in the future. When you have the right tools to recruit quality candidates, you're able to build and grow a team quickly and efficiently with the talent necessary to move your business forward.

Making the most of recruitment budgets

To make the most of your budget, you need at least a couple of surefire hacks. Here are several to get you started:

1. Set goals for your candidate journey.

If you don't set clear hiring expectations, you won't be able to put the necessary processes in place to support business growth. Think about your talent needs today and for the future, building a recruitment strategy that continually fills your talent pipeline.

Let's say, for example, business grows faster than expected. A full pipeline means you're in a much better position to respond and bring in the talent you need to capitalize on market trends. The same can be said should someone turn in his or her resignation. You're never left starting your recruitment efforts from a standstill.

2. Leverage all available resources.

Hiring can be a complex and time-intensive undertaking, which is why small businesses are turning to technology to streamline the recruitment process. After reviewing your goals, decide which parts of the process you can focus on with the resources already available.

Does your HR department already use a human resources information system (HRIS)? What about an applicant tracking system (ATS)? Either of these systems can assist in recruitment or onboarding. In fact, 94% of recruiters and talent managers say an ATS has improved their hiring processes.

Many businesses turn to AI solutions that automate the screening process and minimize the need to weed out unqualified candidates manually. Based on predetermined criteria, you receive a list of candidates who have the strengths necessary to succeed in the role. AI can also serve as a teacher of sorts, educating your business on how to make the right decisions with hiring. You begin to learn how to spot talent best suited for a certain position and for your company. The process becomes repeatable with time, which can help build efficiencies into talent recruitment.

3. Survey all candidates.

Companies often seek feedback about the recruitment process only from candidates hired to the team. The problem with this approach is that opinions tend to be skewed by people who generally had positive experiences. After all, they landed jobs with your company.

Remember that any type of feedback is good feedback. A Talent Board study revealed that only about 14% of employers collect candidate insights at every stage of the hiring process. To get a better idea of the candidate experience, try to capture feedback from everyone up for a role. Ask about the recruitment, application and interview process. Did the job description get them excited about the position? Was résumé submission intuitive? Did everyone feel comfortable during the interview? Did the interviewer come prepared?

Questions like these can help your organization improve the overall process and highlight areas where coaching may be necessary for some interviewers. Besides, feedback also provides an opportunity to pinpoint exactly what talent wants from an employer.

4. Understand the competition.

The talent market is competitive, so it's important to understand how your organization stacks up against everyone else on the hunt for new recruits. Get to know what's working at other businesses. Talk to leaders in your industry as well as experts in adjacent fields. Inquire about their recruitment processes.

Many will stay mum, but some will be willing to offer guidance. For example, Airbnb used storyboards to improve its candidate experience. This allowed the talent team to visualize every step along the candidate journey and identify areas that could be simplified or streamlined. Digital Ocean took another approach, using a central hub for candidate resources to improve the overall experience. If an applicant had a question, he or she could easily find the answer in one centralized hub.

5. Don't get static.

If you believe you'll get a good return by investing in a new tool or resource, try it. Just make sure to provide hard data that backs up your plan. Otherwise, it'll be near impossible to get buy-in or clearance for your budget.

Beyond that, measure and refine the use of any new recruitment solution. If it's not working as well as anticipated, slight adjustments may be enough to get the returns you wanted. That's all part of innovating and using data to improve your hiring practices. Once you've done the work, you can decide what's effective and where you might devote additional resources.

Talent will always be your greatest resource, which makes recruitment essential to the success of your business. Set goals for talent acquisition, use every last resource available, and continue to seek feedback from any applicant who walks through your doors. It's a never-ending process with infinite room for improvement.

Image Credit: seb_ra / Getty Images
Abby Carter
Abby Carter Member
Abby Carter is the content marketing manager of Leoforce, the company behind the people intelligence platform, Arya. She is based in Raleigh, North Carolina.