How to Recruit Like the Big Guys on a Small Business Budget

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Recruiting as a small business is no small matter. And you might be wondering how you can optimize a tight budget and timeline to compete with bigger companies for the same qualified job seekers. After all, the cost of hiring an employee can be three to four times the position’s salary, and the average time-to-hire has increased to 44 days.

On the bright side, your small business can efficiently win over top-notch talent using several methods that won’t break the bank—even without a dedicated HR team.

Read on to discover practical recruiting strategies and budgeting tips you can start implementing today.

5 Cost-Effective Strategies to Attract Top Talent

No single recruiting blueprint works for every business, and yours may evolve over time. Start by figuring out which methods will have the biggest impact on your company right now. Once you know what works and what doesn't, you can adjust your tactics accordingly. Here are five strategies to consider:

1. Recruit Internally

Before you pay to post ads on multiple job boards and potentially spend weeks combing through hundreds of applications, ask yourself, Does the ideal candidate already work here? Internal recruitment practices, such as transferring and promoting employees, reduce hiring costs, save time, and boost employee morale. It's a win-win!

2. Seek Out Employee Referrals

If your internal applicant pool is limited, ask your best employees if they know anyone who would be a great fit for an open role or establish an employee referral program. While not required, many referral programs usually offer a modest incentive. If a cash bonus isn’t feasible due to small business budgeting constraints, consider low-cost rewards, such as a free lunch or an additional personal day.

3. Optimize Your Job Postings

You may need to recruit externally in conjunction with your word-of-mouth efforts. Craft a concise and compelling job description with relevant keywords that clearly outlines the position's details, including:

While bigger companies may tout hefty bonuses and flashy perks, small businesses can still compete by offering meaningful and unique benefits. For example, flexible schedules give employees the autonomy to choose when and where they’ll do their best work, and wellness programs that support their physical and mental health help improve their work-life balance.

Once your job description is good to go, spread the word across different job boards with free or low-cost options for small businesses and your company’s social media platforms.

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4. Humanize Your Employer Brand

If your job listings pique candidates’ interest, they’ll naturally check out your company’s website and social media pages to learn more about your employer brand and culture. So, be sure to share engaging content about your organization’s mission, values, achievements, and of course, the employee experience.

Turning your employees into brand ambassadors is another cost-effective recruiting strategy. A study by Edelman found that 79% of employees trust their coworkers over senior executives. As authenticity becomes increasingly important to job seekers, featuring employee testimonials that share the rewarding challenges and triumphs of working for your organization could supercharge your recruiting efforts.

Encourage them to submit company reviews on sites like Glassdoor, repost your hiring content on social media to share with their networks, and snap candid photos at team-building events to be featured on your careers page.

5. Stay On Track with HR Software

It's hard to find the time to manage a multi-step recruiting process—especially as a small business. Between sales meetings, advertising, and mountains of paperwork, you and your employees are likely spinning multiple plates at once. But a quick time-to-hire can increase the likelihood of securing leading candidates to help ease this burden.

Instead of relying on a DIY spreadsheet, recruiting software for small businesses can help your team stay organized. With an applicant tracking system (ATS) and other handy tools, you can ensure that no candidate falls through the cracks while nurturing a positive experience and gaining a reputation for professionalism.

Remember: You're Small but Mighty

The competition is fierce for top talent, but the size of your budget doesn’t have to dictate the quality of your hires. By leveraging creative tactics, such as referral programs, authentic storytelling, and HR software that fits your needs, your small business can not only compete but excel in the recruitment game.

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In BambooHR, everything works together to help you manage data and benefits, hire talent, run payroll, and help employees thrive. Best of all, it's easy and intuitive for busy HR teams!

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