Emphasizing Small Business Culture in Recruiting

Four colleagues looking at the same screen and discussing their work, highlighting the unique advantages of small business culture.

Does size matter? When it comes to recruiting, a small company can actually have a big advantage. From a closer-knit staff to flexible and collaborative work arrangements, many people prefer small business culture to being a cog in a large corporation.

Of course, building company culture is an ongoing process—one that requires a careful evaluation of what your business can offer that larger competitors can’t. The following suggestions will help you attract top talent to your small organization.

Attract Candidates Who Prefer Small Companies

There are “big company people” and “small company people,” although many employees have experience working for companies of all sizes. While working for a big company can be terrific for the right person, the fact is many people do prefer a smaller work setting. Your job is to find the ones who already want to work in your type of environment or who may be seeking a change of pace.

Actively promote the fact that you are “a small company that does big-time projects,” or something similar. If you can offer candidates a broader range of experience and responsibility as a small business, highlight that. Don’t try to hide the fact that you are small (it won’t work anyway). Instead, emphasize the clients you serve and the quality of work that you do.

Promote Your Unique Small Business Culture in Job Postings

Small businesses typically have a more laid-back, “un-corporate” work environment, often with a close-knit group of employees who are all encouraged to pitch ideas and venture outside of their day-to-day roles. If that is true for you, then let that un-corporate attitude come through in your job postings as part of your recruiting strategy.

Use the job description to clearly define the profile of your company’s ideal candidate in a tone that captures your culture. Perhaps you’re looking for someone who is “excited to help the company grow through innovative ideas” but also “enjoys working collaboratively as part of a team.” Being clear about what you want in job applicants using the tone of your posting will help you attract more people who would do well in your environment.

Use the Interview Process to Emphasize Your Work Environment

The interview is a great opportunity to highlight your small business culture, especially if it occurs in the office. In addition to describing your unique work environment, allowing the candidate to see it in action can provide a powerful, non-verbal display of the advantages your small company brings to the table.

Use your own authentic, distinctive characteristics to appeal to applicants. Whether you have open and inviting collaborative spaces, a lively lunchroom, or a quiet, peaceful office, let candidates experience you and your company, and see who responds to your culture. The people who respond positively and enthusiastically are likely the ones who will fit your company best.

Provide Flexibility

The world is filled with people—especially millennials—who prioritize flexible work arrangements over other benefits. There are high-quality candidates in all professions who are looking for a job that lets them use their skills and still have a life outside of work. Small business culture should allow for this kind of flexibility, which can provide a great incentive for top candidates without breaking the bank.

If you don’t already have this type of arrangement available, it may be worth designing a role that allows for it. Remember that time and flexibility can be more important to people than working for a big company or receiving big company benefits (which, by the way, cost big money). If you design and promote different roles with this in mind, you may be pleasantly surprised at the quality of people you can attract.

Remain Competitive With Pay and Benefits

That isn’t to say you can ignore other benefits when making a job offer. If you want to compete for top talent, you have to offer competitive pay and benefits. However, there is a difference between being in the ballpark and perfectly matching the benefits of a Fortune 500 company. Even if you can’t match salary, you can still win over top candidates with something close to what the big competitors offer, along with the benefits and qualities that are unique to smaller organizations.

Put the best plan that you can afford in place for compensation, health insurance, retirement, vacation, and associated areas. If a job candidate puts together a spreadsheet to compare your dental coverage to that of a Fortune 500 company, you likely won’t be able to beat them. Don’t worry about it; move on and find other people who are the right fit for your environment.

Your Small Company Can Offer Big Opportunities

Remember, not everyone is chasing a competitive job at that well-known corporate office. Actively promote the advantages of your small company culture. Get creative about things like flexible work arrangements. Be competitive about benefits but don’t worry about matching bigger companies in every way. Your job is to promote your advantages to a wide number of candidates so the people who prefer your kind of culture and work environment can step forward.

Leverage Your Small Business Culture the Right Way

Building company culture and using your smaller size to attract the right candidates is important, but it’s just one piece of the recruitment puzzle. You’ll also need to advertise in the right places, manage the candidate experience, and conduct a smooth onboarding program, among other responsibilities. Monster can help you become more efficient with expert recruiting advice and the latest hiring trends, delivered free to your inbox.