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5 Tips For Hiring As A Small Business

Blog Post: Expert advice: How to attract the candidates you want.

By Lisette Howlett

When hiring for a small business without the brand name to attract candidates, you need to think carefully about how to appeal to talented candidates who might have some choices and options as to where they work. To do this, you should make the best use of your advantages.  Here are five suggestions for winning in the hiring game.

Be flexible

Unlike larger companies that have rules and policies that govern thousands of employees, you can create a much more flexible work environment. Consider what you can do differently than larger companies when developing your job roles and requirement. To attract top talent who don’t wish to work the standard 9-to-5 can be done by just offering flexible hours. Offering flexible hours can complicate things a bit for many businesses. However, finding the best talent can be worth the other issues that flexible hours create.

Other things to consider to create a flexible working environment:    

  • Shorter work days
  • Winter, summer or short term employment
  • Work from home days
  • Ride-sharing programs

Be creative

Sniffing out talent that is lurking in less likely places will give you a competitive advantage. Think hard about where you might find people with the skills, competencies, and attitudes that you are looking to hire.  Searching in less obvious places for people with transferable skills will increase the size of the talent pool from which you are trying to hire which will, in turn, give you a better chance of finding talent.

Be honest

Be open and honest about being a small business. Explain to your candidates the benefits and challenges that come with being a small business owner and employee. Ask them for their thoughts, and address in the most honest way you can. People like to be told the truth before they agree to join a company.

Be generous 

For many small companies, it is hard to compete with the compensation packages offered by much bigger companies. Many small companies, get the best candidates to join their companies by offering profit sharing. You can provide top talent with a way to create wealth for their selves by growing within the company. Be generous when designing these packages. Think about rewarding contributions that will take you where you want to be.  At the same time ensure that you have appropriate safeguards. You want to reward those who have positively contributed to your success. 

Be transparent

My philosophy when hiring is to be open and transparent. To explain what I am like to work for, what I am looking for from my people (in terms of commitment and attitude in particular) and how I envision success. For me, this allows people to make the right decision for themselves, which, in turn, helps me. If you have a concern about something in a candidate ask them about it.

Here are a few examples that I use:

“I have a slight worry that if you take this role, you might struggle with the work rate. Can we talk a bit about this?” 

“Working in a small company means that you will have to put your hand to everything, and sometimes this is a bit routine. How will you handle this?”

Photo of Lisette HowlettLisette Howlett is the author of The Right Hire:  Attract And Retain The Best People, a licensed Sandler Trainer located in London Central, and she has fifteen years of global change leadership and business development experience. Howlett is called upon by business owners of small and medium-sized companies for strategy and business development. Her experience includes financial services, technology, pharma/biotech, manufacturing, IT, media, recruitment, and professional services. For more information, please visit

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and don't reflect the opinions of GreenSky® LLC, its management, or subsidiary companies.