How to Recruit Top Talent (Even if Your Company Isn’t Cool) / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

How does your SMB attract and retain talent even if your brand or industry sector isn’t “cool?”

Google gets around 3 million job applications a year and hires about 7,000 people, reports Quartz. As the most sought-out employer, Google is harder to get into Harvard or Yale.

So how do the rest of us attract top-notch talent, especially if we aren’t nearly as “cool” as Google or other high-tech, high-profile companies?

Well, the good news is that when top companies reject so many top applicants, there’s a big pool to dip into. The bad news is that those with in-demand skills can afford to be choosy.

Consider the plight of the IRS. The mere idea of working for the taxman isn’t cool. But, as Bloomberg Business points out, that’s the least of its problems.

With 40% of its workforce eligible to retire, the IRS is having trouble attracting under-30 talent because it is a stodgy bureaucracy that employs outdated technology.

Related Article: Why You Should Be Recruiting Technical Talent at User Groups

SMB Strengths in the Hiring Market

The first thing you’ve got going for you is that you aren’t the IRS (of course, neither are the companies competing with you for talent). The second thing is that, as a small business, you offer a number of advantages over large corporations, even cool ones.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, small businesses offer a number of attractive features, including:

  • Less bureaucracy and a flatter organizational structure with more direct relationships among leadership and employees;
  • Broader range of varied responsibilities for a given job description, with more authority to take independent action;
  • More work flexibility, job diversity and challenges;
  • High growth potential; and
  • Higher salary incentives based on company performance.

Put Up the “We’re a Cool Place to Work” Billboard

What if you’re a small company working in an established industry sector that lacks a cool factor? Just because you’re in a staid industry that’s always done things a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily have to follow suit.

Related Article: Millennials In the Workplace: How Will They Affect Hiring? 

Consider the legal industry

A number of smaller, less established law firms are running more like start-ups than Boston Legal. An example is the Capitol Immigration Law Group—but any small business can put the following into practice to attract workers seeking a cool vibe from their employers.

Commit to social and environmental responsibility

For example, create a mission statement that defines not just what you are doing to provide a product or service, but how it helps your community or the planet in general. And follow through, not just in words, but in concrete actions (e.g., donating a percentage of profits, engaging in charitable activities, giving employees paid-days off to perform volunteer work).

Embrace new technologies

Adopt BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies so employees can work with technologies they feel most comfortable with. If you’re still running Windows XP, it really is time to upgrade.

Provide open work spaces

There’s nothing that reeks more of corporate blandness than cubicles. Open office space should incorporate as much natural light as possible. Plants and artwork, natural materials and bright colors all provide a better work atmosphere. Work spaces that look like fun are fun places to work. Keep the refrigerator stocked with drinks and snacks. An automatic espresso machine might be nice. Standing desks are not only the latest thing, they provide healthier working conditions.

Offer flexible work options

The ability to work from home or a four-day, 10 hour work week works for some people, but it also has to work for your business. Some jobs require a normal 9-5 routine. But for those that don’t, employees are increasingly seeking alternative work schedule options.
Sponsor a corporate ultimate Frisbee team. Or ping-pong club. Or some activity that adds a fun factor to working for your business.

When you bring this kind of energy into how your office looks and functions, it provides a giant billboard that declares, “We’re a Cool Place to Work” as soon as a prospective candidate walk in. And as you attract more of these “cool” kinds of employees, word is bound spread. You’ll wind up not just looking cool, but being cool.

How cool is that?

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