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How SME’s Can Beat the Big Players in the Battle for Talent

Posted by Paul Huffman on May 2, 2021

Many small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often struggle to attract and retain top talent. There are two main reasons:

  1. Candidates are less likely to find SMEs

    The brand is often unfamiliar, or the industry unappealing, to recent grads and talented young candidates looking for something exciting; often re-treads don’t know the brand either!

  2. Leaders of SMEs lack proper recruitment resources

    In fulfilling so many roles for the business, many leaders struggle to develop a strategic recruitment plan until the sudden rush to fill positions.

Fortunately, there are solutions:

Though the battle for talent is at its highest, SMEs have distinct advantages when attracting top talent, based on many factors candidates consider during career moves. Work-hour flexibility, opportunity for impact on the company, extended time off for travel, and opportunity for equity not only in the business but with clients and supplies—these are the factors candidates value when searching for new opportunities.

With the help of a professional talent acquisition team, the willingness for change, and proper planning, SMEs are better prepared to appeal to the best talent than many Fortune 500 companies. The investment in up-front time and resources will pay off in spades when top talent come in, as they are significantly more productive, especially in highly complex positions, achieving up to 800% increased productivity.

3 Strategies to Land Top Talent

So how exactly can SMEs outmanoeuvre the big companies to build an incredible organization and culture with the top talent?

Here are 3 strategies:

  1. Develop a strong culture of community and appreciation

    Show your success and your commitment to employees, customers, and community. You want potential candidates (and clients) to feel that you care about your people and your community—that you operate in a rightly manner.

    A strong social conscience is key in today’s corporate landscape. Many CEOs—including Tim Allan at Apple, Mary Bara at General Motors, and Jeff Bezos at Amazon—have signed the Business Roundtable CEO Pledge of Social Responsibility—a pledge to focus, beyond the bottom line, on outcomes for the environment and the physical, mental, and emotional health of employees. And healthy, appreciated, and properly compensated employees work more productively, which ultimately has a positive impact on the bottom line.

    This cultural shift may feel daunting, and even mushy, but this is what top talent value— developing a culture of community and appreciation is paramount. With discipline and patience, SMEs, being more agile than large enterprises, can make this shift quicker, and the results will be spectacular: a happier, more fulfilled, and more productive work place.

  2. Develop a flexible work environment

    Hiring top talent requires trusting them with flexibility in office, home, and field work. Let them determine which habits work best for them, granting them time and space to innovate, strategize, or simply re-charge, ensuring long-term productivity and business success.

  3. Develop a career map for your organization

    Review career maps with your employees often, helping them develop their goals and plans for achievement. Remember that more successful employees mean a more successful business. Another option, if it makes sense for your company, is to develop a profit-sharing program so employees can participate financially in the business’s overall success. With “skin in the game,” top talent will dedicate themselves even further to their own success and to the success of their colleagues.

Thanks for reading! I’m looking forward to developing this community of finding top talent. If you need help in your search for the right candidates, click here to learn more about my services.


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