Founder at JustReachOut.io – 5K+ businesses use our software to pitch podcasts, publications, blogs to get featured without help of PR firms
Most people like the idea of working for a big-name company, and small businesses are up against these big brands when competing for talent.
Not only have I turned down the chance to work for an A-list company, but I did so to start my own business. In 2014, rather than joining Google, I started JustReachOut after spending two years growing the startup Polar from zero to more than 40 million pageviews before Google acquired it.
The hustle was on. I knew that the key to building a successful business was to employ the right people. Talented employees are more productive and can grow a business 100 times faster than mediocre employees.
My business was new with a small customer base and a modest revenue. How was I going to find skilled people who were passionate about what they do and excited about supporting me in growing a small business?
Initially, I went the traditional route. I hired a ton of recruitment agencies, but none of them delivered what I needed. Why? Because the best employees were already working somewhere else. How was I going to find them and make myself appealing to them?
If you’re where I was a few years ago, here are my top five tips on recruiting the best talent for your small business.
1. Find people whose work you admire. To find talented people, all you need to do is scout around the internet.
• If you’re hiring a designer, check out the designer portfolios on sites like Dribbble.
• If you need a content writer, do a search for blogs in your industry. If you find a writer that’s nailing it, your next step is to find their email address. Consider using a free version of an email finder to reach out and find out if they’re in the market for a job or will work with you on a freelance basis.
• To find an app developer, think of apps you like and find out who developed them.
• To find awesome marketing talent, make a list of companies you think are crushing it at marketing campaigns. Then, do a little sleuthing to find out who worked at those companies or at the advertising or marketing agencies that created the campaigns.
You can also tap into your personal connections. For instance, is there an ex-coworker whose work you admired? Get in touch and see if they’re open to working with you.
2. Find people who like you. Again, the internet is a great source of potential talent. Look through your followers on social media, email subscribers and even your customer database. Does anyone with the relevant skills jump out at you?
You can also put out a “we’re hiring” notice on your website and social media channels as well as in emails.
3. Ask the top people in your industry for referrals. It’s unlikely you’ll recruit the head of SEO at Shopify to join your small startup, but you can ask him for a referral. Most people who are at the top of their game are well connected, and you could get some great referrals.
There’s a challenge, though. These people are busy. How can you get them to help you? First, find ways to engage with them beforehand so they start to recognize your name. Comment on their work, projects or interviews on their social media channels.
Then, reach out with a message. Keep it short and specific—they won’t wade through lengthy emails. Something along these lines should suffice:
I saw you know John on LinkedIn. Would love an intro. I think he would have a great time working with us.
Can you forward this email below to him?
My old friend Dmitry came across you on LinkedIn and wanted to connect. He’s a great guy running an amazing company and currently hiring, definitely someone you should have in your Rolodex.
Cool if I intro you?
4. Hire a recruitment specialist. Just because I didn’t have much luck with recruitment agencies doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use them. Much of it depends on who you use. I recommend using agencies that specialize in a particular field. For example, if you’re looking to expand your tech team, use an agency that specializes in technology job placements.
Alternatively, if you’re a niche business, you may want to employ a recruitment specialist who understands the industry. For instance, if you’re a healthcare startup, look to hire someone who has a healthcare recruitment background rather than a generalist HR practitioner. The median salary for junior healthcare recruiters is $46,000 a year. That investment is invaluable if it means you spend less on recruitment costs because you’re finding the right candidates faster.
5. Create a sexy job posting. We’ve all yawned our way through dull job ads, and they probably don’t inspire you to want to apply. Boring job ads can give people the impression that your company is boring. Talented people don’t want to work for boring companies. They want to work for sexy companies.
If you want a vibrant team that’s bursting with fresh innovative ideas, then your job ad needs to reflect that. Don’t just tell them what the job entails; paint a picture of what it’s like to work for your company.
Finding Great Talent Is Tough—But Not Impossible
Small-business recruitment is tough. You need to entity people to work for a fledgling business rather than a big brand. Finding great talent is possible if you expand your search radius and highlight the benefits of working for a small business, of which there are many.
Today, eight years down the line, I have a team of 15 amazing people I’m proud to work with. You can also find the best talent for your small business by simply taking a more proactive approach to recruitment.