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Expert Roundup: The Competitive Hiring Advantages of Small Businesses

Hiring May 14, 2024

Talking about the size, huh? Well, we’re not Apple, or Amazon, or other giants to mess up with when fighting for the best talent…

Right, you aren’t. And that’s awesome!

You’ll see why in a minute.

Discussing the factors that influence hiring success, small and even medium-sized businesses highlight the severe recruiting competition in the job market. In fact, 73% of SMBs find it struggling to compete with more recognized and well-known brands for talent.

If you’re a smaller employer, there’s a great chance you stigmatize yourself as unattractive for candidates by default.

What if you might be wrong?

There are several competitive hiring advantages of a small business that you should know, stick out, and boast of in order to get top talent on board.

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Top 7 Small Business Advantages in Recruiting (Experts’ Insights)

Quicker and easier hiring

Even though HR tech has transformed hiring for better, enterprises still lack a flat recruitment process having a multi-layered one instead, often dented by bureaucracy. Not to mention that they have plenty of positions to fill and tons of applicants for each of those.

How long can a recruitment procedure take in a big company?

One of Apple’s employees revealed that it took two months to get hired at the corporation from start to finish: online application – phone interview – person interview (within two weeks after the phone interview) – background check (after another two weeks).

In small teams, interview management is simpler, and the whole process takes much less time.

For example, Anthony Martin, Founder and CEO of Choice Mutual, shares his agency’s experience in hiring insurance advisors and agents:

“There are not so many candidate interviewers and decision makers involved in the hiring process. Plus, interview scheduling and feedback collection is simplified too.

After a person calls us about open positions or submits an online application on the website, a recruiter gets in touch with an applicant within three business days to schedule an interview. Typically, the overall process (including a background check) doesn’t take longer than two weeks.”

(Image source)

It depends on the industry, of course, but the general tendency is that “Small businesses are hiring at a faster rate than their larger brethren,” as Ruth Simon, small business and entrepreneurship reporter, mentions in her WSJ article.

Individualized visibility

When asked about employee experiences at small vs large companies, 76% of workers said that a smaller employer provides a better individualized visibility than a larger one, in comparison to 13% of those who indicated otherwise.

Here are only a couple of reasons why employee visibility is greater in businesses with fewer workers:

  • Typically, employers know every employee’s name.
  • Everyone is noticed and gets enough attention.
  • Every worker is involved in relevant conversations, meetings, and decision making processes.
  • Employees feel a sense of meaning and purpose.
  • Everyone understands personal value for business.

In a big organization, it’s hard for workers to feel seen as personalities.

For instance, if you have a look at Indeed reviews of Allied Universal, a provider of security systems with over 800,000 workers, its employees claim it’s a poor company to work at, because people are simply numbers to them.

Small business leadership is more authentic and purpose-led, not profit-led. “Purpose-driven leaders have multiple things in common […],” writes Jacob Morgan, Founder of FutureofWorkUniversity. “They see their employees as human beings. Employees aren’t just numbers on a spreadsheet, they aren’t cogs, they aren’t job descriptions – they are people, just like you,” Jacob continues.

You should make it clear for job applicants that you foster a people-first culture and promote diversity and inclusion at the workplace.

Family-like organizational culture

Giant organizations can’t compete with smaller companies, when it comes to workplace culture. Let’s take some examples.

Nike, a sportswear behemoth with over 75,000 of workers, was accused of gender discrimination, bullying, and a toxic company culture for women, according to its current and former female employees who filed a lawsuit against it.

According to MarketWatch, Hewlett Packard (HP), a multinational IT company, used to take care of employees and had a positive organizational culture. But with time, it vanished and was substituted with scandals that impacted company morale.

“Family-like company culture works better when a business is small but erodes greatly when it expands in terms of operational, financial, geographical, and workforce growth,” claims Morgan Taylor, Co-Founder of Jolly SEO.

“As a small business, we strive to develop deep and meaningful relationships with attorneys and consultants on our teams. The workplace is their second home where they usually spend an average of 40 hrs per week. That’s why it’s essential to create a cozy, home-like atmosphere of belongingness and togetherness,” he notes.

Mark Pierce builds his company culture on the three pillars (integral features):

  • Sensitive
  • Collaborative
  • Supportive

You should make the right impression and convey your company culture in job descriptions, as well as on your careers page.

See how LOTTE CM, a small construction company in Korea, does that on their Careers page.

(Image source)

One-of-a-kind workplace

In bigger companies, offices are like beehives in which employees are simply put in identical slots or boxes and treated like one mass.

As a smaller employer, you can always highlight something specific that sets you apart and creates a unique workplace vibe. Use your website as an anchor of your brand building strategy and make your company attractive for potential candidates.  

For example, Billy Bob’s Parlour, a small restaurant, focuses on fun, friendliness, and a happy smile that makes the Billy Bob’s experience top-notch.

(Image source)

You might need to rethink your employer brand and encourage employees to share their workplace experiences becoming your brand ambassadors.

Check how Park Place Surgical Hospital harnesses the power of social media recruiting involving their employee ambassador.

It’s a call-to-action to apply for a job with a video of their nurse expressing her gratitude about the one-of-a-kind workplace environment at the establishment.

(Image source)

More flex working

The COVID-19 outbreak was an accelerant for employees wishing autonomy, flexibility, and remote work options. Nowadays, a 9-to-5 in-office job isn’t a safe bet anymore. People prefer a fully remote or hybrid working model. As many as 94% of employees indicated that in the Gallup’s survey.

However, it turns out that large businesses aren’t that good at tackling such post-pandemic recruitment challenges as the need for agility and remote work shift. For instance, Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, enacted a return-to-office policy which caused a major dissatisfaction among his employees.

Small businesses are more oriented at work-life balance, because they’re familiar with a specific life situation of each worker. Trying to meet everyone’s preferences and needs, they offer remote/hybrid work modes and adjustable working schedules.

Indeed, flexibility is the key to recruiting top talent. It’s a new business imperative that small companies can adopt faster and more efficiently than large ones.

Personalization of employee benefits and rewards

82% of employees say that a benefits package is a significant factor that defines whether an applicant will accept or reject a job offer. And 65% of them would appreciate an opportunity to choose their own benefits.

But aren’t large businesses offering employee benefits?

Of course, they are. But as Phil Strazzulla, Founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, puts it: “Big enterprises stick to the one-incentive-for-all principle without caring much about individual preferences of their workers.

In this case, personalization becomes one of the best competitive hiring advantages for small firms.”

Carter Seuthe further explains how it works: “Small businesses reflect on the needs of employees as individuals rather than a whole group. They can personalize benefits and adjust them to meet the particular interests and needs of every worker.

For example, you can attract younger workers offering a student loan repayment to help cover their debts. You can achieve this even on a small scale – with $50 per month.”

Here’s a list of other valuable employee benefits and perks:

  • Mental and physical health programs
  • Life or health insurance
  • Employer-sponsored retirement plans
  • Gym memberships
  • Daycare services
  • Tuition reimbursement, etc.

On top of that, you can develop an employee recognition program with personalized gifts that cater to the needs of each individual on your team.

Wider range of skills and tailored learning programs

Scrolling through job descriptions, people prioritize an opportunity to expand the pool of skills continuously and grow professionally to keep up with the ever-changing conditions both at the workplaces and in the economy.

Moreover, based on the Workplace Learning Report, 94% of workers would stay at a firm longer, if it invested in their learning and development.

“A higher possibility of role-switching is a strategic hiring advantage of small businesses,” believes Jim Pendergast, Senior Vice President at altLINE Sobanco.

“Employees can easily try on the leader’s shoes or perform tasks in varied areas of expertise. For example, if you take a small law firm like ours, the lawyers here are trained as generalists. They get all-encompassing skill sets and engage in various types of work across a diverse range of legal practice areas,” Ben explains.

In large corporations, a constant hierarchy structure and a strict division of responsibilities and tasks between management and the rest of the workforce makes it practically impossible to do that.

At this rate, smaller employers can win the competition in an ever-challenging talent market, because they are able to offer employees a more extensive list of skills to master and roles to try.

Besides, they have a chance to pay attention to everyone on the team and enhance their talent management strategy with individual mentoring/coaching programs and personal and professional development plans tailored to the specific needs of every employee.

Attract Top Talent with These Benefits

That’s when size definitely matters.

Now you see that it’s great that you’re not one of those gigantic multinationals.

You can enhance your recruitment strategies with the competitive advantages your small business has and win the hiring battle.

Use Jobsoid to collaborate with your hiring team and compete better and more efficiently in a heated job market.


Zoi Kotsou

Copywriter - Content writer - Content Strategist

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