There's a widespread belief that big businesses hold an insurmountable advantage over startups when it comes to recruiting the best available talent. Yet, if this fact were true, former startups such as Microsoft Corp., Google and Starbucks Corp. would have never been able to grow into the corporate giants that they are today.
Actually, startups hold a definable recruitment edge over their larger counterparts in several key areas. By exploiting these advantages, a small but savvy business can scoop up promising talent that is sitting right under a bigger competitor's nose. These tips can help your startup recruit the best and brightest workers.
Work nimbly. The best candidates are hired very quickly. That's great news for startups, since big businesses tend to be slower and clumsier than small companies at doing just about everything — including finding and hiring quality employees. While a big company is still creating job descriptions, forming hiring committees, screening resumes, interviewing and re-interviewing candidates, and making hiring decisions, a startup owner or manager can network with colleagues, scan LinkedIn or other social networks, place an ad on Craigslist Inc. or another job site, and find and hire qualified candidate within a small window of time.
Promote your company's size. Many people simply detest the idea of becoming a faceless drone toiling in a giant corporation's hive. A startup can offer talented candidates the chance to play key roles in daily operations, a flexible work environment, direct access to top management, rapid promotion and other advantages that a large company would be hard-pressed, at best, to match.
Prove your company's stability. Your business may have solid funding, soaring sales, an iron-clad business plan and a bright future, yet job candidates have no way of knowing all this. This means that it's your job to reassure potential hires that your business is in the game to stay and isn't preparing to pull a disappearing act. To land top candidates, provide serious prospects with documentation of the business's stability, such as magazine and newspaper articles about your company, business references, a talk with a current employees and any other methods of proof that you can think of.
Assemble a benefits package. Economies of scale dictate that small businesses can't afford to offer the same kinds of benefits packages as their giant counterparts. On the other hand, there's nothing to stop a startup from creating a benefits menu that covers employees' basic needs without busting the budget. Not offering any benefits beyond a week or two of vacation time is certain to drive away many qualified candidates. But supplying a package that includes basic health care and a 401(k) plan will keep your firm in the hiring ball game.
Target beginners. Lower pay and humbler benefits won't deter talented candidates who are looking to launch their careers. Eager beginners will require more coaching than experienced candidates — a fact that keeps many big companies from hiring them for responsible positions. But thanks to more casual, team-oriented working environments, small businesses are usually better talent nurturers than their larger competitors.
Use a recruiting service. Startups tend to hire employees in batches immediately after other milestone events, such as when funding arrives or a major new client is signed. A recruiting service can temporarily and cost-effectively augment a startup's employee-search capabilities, providing the hiring expertise that such companies typically lack.