How to Compete When You Can’t Pay Them More

In an ideal world, we’d all have an endless queue of experienced, well-educated, “perfect fit” applicants beating down the door and throwing their resumes in our direction in their desperation to join our teams. In the real world, it’s becoming more and more common for employers to have to “sell” their organization to prospective employees. And as a result, an important part of successful recruiting has become building a strong employer brand, so that the candidates you want to attract know who you are and want to work for you.

But for small employers, building an employer brand often takes a backseat to the day-to-day realities of running a business. Intentionally investing resources in building an employer brand can be unrealistic for employers who only recruit occasionally.

“Just because you’re not working with a huge budget doesn’t mean you can’t attract the cream of the crop!

Non-existent employer branding isn’t the only candidate attraction struggle smaller companies deal with. Small organizations often struggle with competing financially as well – family operations, start-ups, and not for profits typically can’t offer the same benefits, perks, and bells and whistles that larger employers can provide.

Just because you’re not working with a huge budget doesn’t mean you can’t attract the cream of the crop! Here are 4 no-cost strategies to stand out from your competition:

1. Learning Opportunities. You may not have endless funds to commit to professional development, but that doesn’t mean you can’t offer valuable learning opportunities to attract applicants who value continuous learning. Provide opportunities for employees to explore new areas of interest, cross train, and gain new skills, and talk about those opportunities throughout your recruitment process. For the right kind of go-getter candidate, the prospect of learning and growing in a position is a huge mark in the plus column.

2. Significance. Nobody wants to be just another cog in the wheel or push paper all day – everyone wants their work contributions to have a real influence on results. Make it easy for candidates to see how the position connects in meaningful ways to the big picture by using your job posting to highlight the position’s direct contributions to business outcomes. By helping candidates visualize how they’d be contributing to the execution of a strategic vision and directly impact the organization, it’s easy to get them excited about working for you.

3. Flexibility and work-life balance. Especially for many millennials who value flexibility and work-life integration over cash rewards, offering ways to better balance work and other commitments can go a long way towards attracting top talent. Some no-cost perks that can be great selling features? Let employees flex their start and finish times, decide when they take their breaks, and allow for remote working arrangements. You’ll be promoting engagement, encouraging balance, and setting a positive tone for the future employment relationship with new hires.

4. Connection and Relationships. The chance to build genuine social connections and friendships with colleagues is a big plus – strong social connections help relieve stress, improve health, and prevent depression. But when you’re one of hundreds working in a huge corporate setting, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. For many candidates, that lack of connection is a big downside to working for large organizations. So, if you’re a smaller employer, play to your natural strengths! Smaller teams offer a unique opportunity to get to know coworkers and individuals, so don’t be afraid to make sure candidates know about your fun, collaborative, team-focused environment. Involve your team in the interview process so that candidates get a chance to see for themselves how great it is to be part of your crew!

Your Engaged Assignment: Feel like you’re falling behind when it comes to competing for strong candidates in today’s tight market? Incorporate some of the strategies above throughout your recruitment process to stand out from the pack without breaking the bank.

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