Ask the Experts

Ask the experts: How to take on the big guys for top talent

CorrespondentOctober 21, 2013 

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With the right tactics, small businesses can successfully compete against large companies for top talent.

In some cases, a small business might even have more to offer a prospective employee than its mammoth counterpart. The key is knowing how to present your strengths to job candidates.

Debby Millhouse, president of CEO Inc., a Charlotte staffing services company, offers this advice for small businesses that want to recruit outstanding employees:

•  It’s not all about the money. People don’t join a company just because of the salary, Millhouse said. Often they are interested in many facets of the job and company.

“People leave jobs because of management and people take jobs because of management,” she said. “They either fall in love and stay because of the people and the culture, or they grow to hate something and leave because of the people and the culture.”

•  It is a little bit about the money. You can’t pay a substandard price for a top employee, and companies that say they don’t have the money should reevaluate their budget.

Hiring someone with little experience for a job that requires a lot of experience could backfire. Investing in a qualified, proven employee will pay off, Millhouse said.

•  Use your company’s size as a selling point. At a small business, employees are not anonymous worker bees.

“If something happens in the marketplace, I am in the trenches with them,” Millhouse said. “If I have to close this company, it is dramatically going to affect my life. If you are not successful, I’m in it with you.”

Because small companies often know their employees well, they also can offer flexibility tailored to each employee’s situation.

•  Boast your benefits. “Look for things that you think really sell your organization, and then sell that organization. People will come,” Millhouse said.

•  Play up how employees will fit into your company’s values. Provide job candidates with your values and mission statement.

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