When interviewing business owners for our upcoming book, Let Go to Grow, we asked, "How do you insure that you hire the best people for your organization?" More than any other question, this one typically engendered a response of, "I don't know, you tell me!" We understand that getting good people can be a tough problem even in a down economy. But, the issue is particularly difficult for smaller businesses. Smaller organizations just can't match the extensive benefit and compensation packages offered by large companies. But, small organizations take heart -- you have more to offer than you think.
Breadth of responsibility: It is often true that employees in small companies wear a lot of hats. This can be quite appealing to some people. Individuals who crave a lot of variety and stimulation in their work life are often drawn to the disparate responsibilities available in smaller firms. We know of one talented individual who gave up the chance to work in what would have been a very lucrative but narrowly focused job with a Fortune 200 company in favor of one with a small organization that paid less but offered more diverse responsibilities.
Larger responsibilities: As well as offering a variety of work assignments, smaller firms will often give less experienced individuals a chance to have more responsible positions than they could find in larger organizations. For example, an individual who might be able to obtain a senior accountant position with a Fortune 500 firm may be able to be CFO at a small or midsize company. The chance to make a dynamic impact or run a department can be a challenge to tempting to pass up.
Flexible schedules: Many times smaller organizations can be more flexible than larger companies when it comes to flexing policy and practice. We know of several small companies that offer job sharing, part-time positions and flexible work schedules. These arrangements are attractive to employees who either cannot or choose not to work a typical 8-to-5 day. Small firms that can make and change their rules to fit different situations can attract top talent by working with the employee to develop a schedule that works for both parties.
Small company culture: There is something very appealing about the atmosphere that often develops in smaller firms. People frequently develop close relationships that last for years and extend beyond the workplace. I was recently recruiting for a small 5-person company and used the following passage in the ad:
"You will have fun at work, enjoy your teammates and get great satisfaction from knowing you are crucial to the organization's success. You will be appreciated by your boss, who will be working with you, leading the charge."
Many individuals crave the satisfaction that comes from knowing they are integral to the process and the success of the organization. They will never be just another "cog in the machine" in a small organization.
If you are a small company looking for great talent, realize that you have a lot to offer to the right people. Not everyone wants to climb the corporate ladder or work in large organizations. If you market your opportunities correctly, and ask prospective employees really want they want from their next job, you may find that what your organization has to offer is "just right."