Hiring People? How Your Small Business Can Beat Big Firms

How Your Small Business Can Beat Big Firms

One comment our staffing experts often hear when working with small businesses goes something like this: “I’m hiring people, but it’s a struggle to attract interest, even though I have a great firm. How can I compete for talent with companies two and three times my size, when they have bigger hiring budgets?”

It’s a complex problem, but one that could be solved by following some simple advice: If your small business can’t compete for talent on salary or hiring packages, then don’t try. You don’t run the same kind of organization as these big outfits and don’t have access to the same resources. But that also means you have strengths that they don’t have.

In other words: Be a first-rate version of yourself, not a second-rate version of someone else.

Here are five ways your small business can compete with larger firms when hiring people, even if you can’t match their big-budget salaries:

1. Play up your company culture

More and more these days, people don’t just want to have a good job, they want the right job for them. And company culture plays a huge role in whether a job is right, often as large a role as salary does. Highly motivated employees work where they feel a sense of belonging.

If your staff is like a close-knit family, pitch that fact to job candidates. You’re not just hiring people, you’re hiring people who are excited about — and likely to excel within — the corporate culture. Make it clear that employees go to lunch together every Friday, play softball in the Chamber of Commerce league, volunteer together once a month or organize company camping trips. Observing candidates’ reactions also lets you evaluate how well they’ll fit in with your team.

Get insight on hiring people who will thrive at your firm.

2. Focus on work-life balance

In this area, small businesses can really stand out from much larger companies. In lieu of extra money, “pay” your employees more of their own time. Consider offering extra paid vacation or occasional four-day workweeks. Or give them the ability to work from home occasionally. Many employees prefer greater control over their time to earning a higher salary. Take advantage of that.

3. Use potential advancement as a selling point

By designing your advancement structure to promote from within whenever possible and groom new hires for timely advancement, you can use this culture of in-company growth to make up for lower starting salary offerings. A history of hiring people with promise and then helping them grow quickly within the company can attract strong candidates. If a high-performing applicant points to larger starting salaries at bigger companies, you can counter by showing how much more quickly and assuredly they can advance with your company.

Download the latest volume of The Demand for Skilled Talent to learn trends you should now about when hiring people.

4. Offer bonuses to make up for salaries

In lieu of salaries you can’t afford, work out an attractive bonus system. As your company becomes more profitable, your employees get bigger bonuses. High-performing candidates may be willing to accept a smaller salary up front, if there’s a possibility to receive more later on as a bonus.

5. Find creative ways to mimic big-company amenities

So your small business doesn't have a gym in your building? Arrange a discounted group membership at the local gym for your employees instead. What if expensed meals are too pricey? Give employees a gift card to their favorite restaurant each month. The more creative and personal you get with employee perks, the more your employees will love working for you — and the more great candidates you’ll attract who want to bring their special skills to your unique company.

Having trouble hiring people for your small business? Don't suffer in silence. Contact Robert Half. We're experts at finding the right people for our clients.


Call us at 1.877.626.4189


Lastly, don't forget to promote the following additional advantages of working for a small business to job candidates during the recruiting process.

small business advantage