How to Attract the Best Talent to Your SME

Is your business ready to grow and take on new staff? Are you at the point that you need to increase your employees but are wondering how to attract the best talent to your SME? Here are some tips on hiring the best talent based on my experience.

Making the decision to apply for a role within an SME can be a liberating experience for any professional looking to make the move away from a large corporate business. Working for a smaller business can potentially allow staff to learn about the different aspects of running a company, secure potential promotions faster and benefit from a tight-knit company culture.

However, for many people, there can be a number of fears about making the leap from the ‘safety net’ of a large established corporation to a smaller business that may not have the same level of resource and protocols in place that a potential candidate is used to.

It is possible for SMEs to attract and utilise experienced professionals from larger companies to drive business growth. There are also practices that can be put into place to eradicate any potential fears a prospective employee might have such as limited growth potential, lack of formal training processes etc.

Growing from a small startup

For any high growth organisation, there will come a pivotal point when a business makes the often unrecognised transition from a small team startup to becoming a larger organisation that encompasses certain intricacies and processes that likely were not on a CEO’s radar while the business was in its infancy.

This period is crucial to the long term success of a business and can dictate whether a company continues to grow or hits a ‘glass ceiling’. With more members of staff to ‘please’ and retain, being able to harness a positive company culture is one of the commonly referred to challenges when managing a high growth business but, if a board of directors has never had the experience of leading a company of this size before, how will they know is they are employing the correct strategies?

This is the point where companies may need to seek the invaluable advice of experienced professionals who have worked in larger corporations and know first hand how to lead and manage a team of 50+ members of staff. One of the common strategies used by many businesses today is the recruitment of non-executive directors, which while often can provide a tremendous source of insight for the board, can often go unnoticed by members of staff at the core of the business.

Recruiting senior professionals that have successfully worked within larger organisations, while a costly investment, could be the key to overcoming some of the common pinch points a fast growing business could encounter. HR, for example, might be one of the areas taking the strain as more members of staff join an organisation, so having an experienced HR director that has worked with 100+ employees could be a key asset.

Attracting the best talent from larger companies can be a challenge

However, attracting the best talent from a large established brand to a fast-growing SME is a continued challenge for businesses and recruiters – particularly in today’s marketplace that is fraught with uncertainty. Many often feel they might lose the ‘comfort blanket’ that is often perceived you gain when working for a large corporate, which usually have significant resources in both financial power and the people and technology which support staff in their roles. We regularly speak to candidates that fear all of this will be lost if they make the leap into an SME, and while this is the case for some businesses, this is rare.

It’s therefore crucial that SMEs continue to invest in their brand, culture and ethos to make themselves attractive to these types of high profile staff.

Showcase the growth of the company, its successes and the opportunities available – this could be done through effective PR and social media – let the public know when the business is going and why prospective candidates should join you on the journey.

A frustration that a lot of employees in large corporates have is they are just a number and can’t make a difference, this can be a major selling point for SMEs if they can showcase it properly.

For those who do decide to make the move to an SME, some of the noticeable benefits can include a more flexible working environment, an improved ability to really make an impact on the company’s bottom line and the chance to get involved in shaping the future of a business. It’s therefore important that this is affirmed when putting job ads out and during the interview process – candidates can then be reassured they are making a good decision!

Competition is fierce between corporates and SMEs for all skill sets and while the big players would usually win most of the battles, SMEs have become a lot more attractive to job seekers in recent times.

The one area where they still may struggle can be at the trainee level where the corporates might have a more structured and better-resourced offering which appeals to those looking to start their careers, however, this is one area where smaller businesses are making increasing strides to make up the gap.

While there remains a lot of uncertainty globally, it’s an exciting time for SMEs who are on their growth journey. They have the creative license to be who they want to be and are not confined to strict brand guidelines meaning they can attract the best talent from established businesses in the way they want to and reap the potential rewards that this business acumen brings with it.