For small business owners, attracting great hires can be a challenge. To give yourself the greatest chance of success, you’ll need to lay out a clear recruitment plan by defining your ideal candidate and then presenting your company in a way that entices high-quality candidates who are the perfect fit.

With that in mind, here are some ideas for how you can help your recruitment partner attract high-caliber hires without having to rely on offering a market-beating salary.

Clearly Define the Role

The battle to attract great hires starts with defining what “great” looks like for the role in question. Small businesses are tight-knit communities of workers with varied skill sets. As such, it’s a great idea to get as much input from other team members as you possibly can when defining the hiring criteria that are most likely to result in a winning hire. What skills does the new hire need? How will the new hire help the company achieve its business goals? What tasks will they be performing?

By hiring with a defined goal in mind, you’ll be able to develop a more detailed job description that speaks to candidates who match your brief. Many small businesses fall into the trap of writing vague job descriptions. Unfortunately, these are off-putting to candidates who want clarity in the roles they’re applying for. By taking the time to write a job description that is a true reflection of the role in question, you’ll have a better chance of attracting candidates who fit the bill.

Create an Attractive Company Culture and Showcase Your Employer Brand

Building an employer brand takes time, but it’s more than worth it in the long run. As an employer you’ll need to find a way to tell the world what it’s like to work for your company.

You could opt for a section on your website that illustrates your company culture in an engaging and persuasive manner. This could take the form of employee blogs, photos, employee endorsements, and the like. Social media can also be a great forum for presenting your company culture. Whatever medium you choose, focus on showcasing your values (diversity, work/life balance, etc.) and your company culture. If you do that, you’ll likely find it easier to attract like-minded people to your business.

Remember, there are some great benefits to working for a small business. Close-knit teams, the chance to gain experience in different areas, the potential for rapid career progression – all can be great draws for candidates. The key is to consistently highlight them through your job descriptions, website, company blogs, and social media.

bulbProvide Valuable Perks

Employee perks don’t have to break your budget. Not everyone wants gym memberships and expensive day trips.

Where possible, try offering flexible working options. Work/life balance is becoming increasingly important to job seekers. In a recent survey of 1,587 employees and 310 employers conducted by My Family Care and Hydrogen, an impressive 53 percent of employees stated they would choose flexible work options over a 5 percent salary increase. This figure was even higher for working parents, 58 percent of whom said they were willing to sacrifice a 5 percent pay raise for the chance to work flexibly. Just think of all the highly talented people you could be missing out on by not offering flexible work!

I spoke to Capability Jane, flexible-work recruitment specialists, to understand how the rise of flexible work has impacted the hiring landscape. The changing motivations of talented candidates clearly has great significant for small businesses looking to attract great hires.

According to my sources at the company, “Over recent years we have seen a considerable increase in high-quality, senior-level candidates seeking flexible or part-time working arrangements. This has resulted in a valuable talent pool of high performers available to forward-thinking employers.”

Put another way, by becoming a forward-thinking employer willing to offer flexible work, your small business could potentially secure star hires whom you otherwise would struggle to attract.

It’s important to note at this point that you don’t have to allow all your employees to work from home. You could start by implementing flexible and core work hours. For example, by establishing core hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., you can ensure that everyone is in the office for the same period of time during certain parts of the day. You can then allow your employees to work schedules around the core hours that suit them. Providing this type of flexibility strengthens the trust between you and your employees and broadens your talent pool.

Why take steps like this? In a recent global study by Vodafone, 81 percent of companies reported increased profits and 83 percent reported increased productivity after implementing flexible work practices. These results are mirrored by the experiences of Capability Jane’s clients, who have found that the highest performing teams are those with flexible work arrangements.

If flexible work arrangements seem to lead to higher levels of innovation and performance, it raises a serious question for employers: Can you afford not to implement flexible work practices in your business?

sunsetEnsure You Provide a Positive Candidate Experience

Last but not least, providing a positive candidate experience is vital if you want quality applicants to accept your job offers. Great candidate experiences positively impact applicants’ impressions of your business throughout the hiring process. Candidate experience starts at the job description and continues through to acceptance and the onboarding process.

Communication and transparency are key at each stage of the recruitment process. Ideally, you want to show your candidates that yours is a responsive, caring, and close-knit workforce. Interact with candidates on social media. Give them an insight into your company by producing an authentic video about your office environment featuring some of the winning characters on your team. Organize a fun and engaging office tour. All these touch points with candidates will help to win people over to your business – and solidify in their minds (and yours) that they are right for the role and will thrive in your business.

In conclusion, the key to success when hiring for your small business is to ensure that you focus on the things you can do to strengthen your appeal to candidates. You may not have the global brand appeal or top-tier remuneration of some of the companies you’re competing with for top talent, but you nonetheless have many avenues for differentiating your business and making yours the most appealing opportunity for candidates to pursue. Focus on these and your chances of success will be greatly multiplied.

Tony Restell is the founder of social media agency You can find Tony on Twitter (@tonyrestell).

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