Talent Acquisition For Small and Medium Businesses -

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Business Sherpa Group hosted a discussion on Talent Acquisition for Small and Medium Businesses, led by Recruitment Practice Director Zack Fleming and Marketing Coordinator Ward Verschaeve. With many small and medium enterprises experiencing frustration within their hiring efforts, the event aimed to touch on many pain points business owners are having and to provide a different look into acquistition efforts. 

Read: Microsoft Work Trends Report 

As it stands, there are more jobs than there are available workers, which makes it easy for people to consider multiple options, or to move between organizations. Industry reports from Microsoft and Engage2Excel both paint a similar picture of today’s talent market that is experiencing a shift in priorities and preferences. Workers are considering a change in their career, and looking for organizations that support their mental health, provide flexibility, offer new learning opportunities, and a chance to advance their career within the organization. 

Recap: Talent Discussions Part 1: Talent Retention

Talent Acquisition Rethought

There is no magic process to finding the right people. Talent acquisition is a complex machine with lots of moving parts, but there are things that small business owners can do to attract candidates that would be a great addition to their workforce. Rather than thinking of talent acquisition as a strategy, you need to think about it as a program. A program that uses different tools and processes, is in constant operation with multiple people working together, and is always evolving and adapting to the ever-changing job market.   

Within this Talent Acquisition Program there are two main components: sourcing and selection. Sourcing is the act of creating a pool of interested or potential parties, and selection involves the actions you take to make a choice from your sourcing pool.  

Sourcing Candidates

There are 3 pillars to sourcing, and what you choose to do within these pillars depends on where your desired candidates are. What are the 3 pillars? We’ve outlined below: 

1. Job Postings  

Unlike a job description that is used as an internal HR resource, a job posting is used externally to draw candidates in through a more of a promotional approach. You likely want to hire people who align with your culture and values, and this should be clearly reflected in the text of your job posting. Is your organization looking for someone who aligns with their highly technical environment? Then in the job posting, you want to lay out things as systematically as possible. Or does your organization value personality and wants someone who is more down-to-earth? In this case, the posting should use language and punctuation that mirrors these values. In the job posting, you should aim to be as transparent as possible by outlining the more challenging parts of the job. This way, prospective employees are aware of the position’s demands, so that those brought on board know what exactly what’s required of them and ensuring their retainment. 

2. Direct Search 

Some job seekers might refer to this as “head hunting”, but Direct Search is the practice of using a database like LinkedIn and reaching out to people who you think would be a good fit for the role. Keep in mind that most of the people you contact aren’t actively seeking new employment and likely not interested, so it’s important to target as many people as possible when pursuing this sourcing option. In your direct search, also consider having a person in leadership be the first point of contact rather than a recruiter or HR representative. That way the recipient gets a good first impression of your business and sees how invested you are in hearing back from them.  (HR or a recruiter can help the leader prepare in advance).  

 3. Networking 

There is never a wrong time to network with potential candidates, even if your organization is not in a position where it can hire right now. Meeting and getting to know people on a professional and personal level and being on their radar is a valuable resource for small and medium businesses. This is especially important for organizations in competitive fields like the technology sector, where there is always steep competition for new hires. Getting to know candidates while they’re still in school, before they might have the skillset to work for you, puts you a step ahead of other organizations who will one day be looking at the same graduating class.  

Selecting Candidates

The selection process can take many forms. From skill tests to interviews, it’s the parameters you choose that ensures you hire the right person. To make the best decision, testing should be meticulously thought out so you can solicit the right information. Skill tests should aim to replicate the nature of the job as accurately as possible, either through a written test, a case study, or a work sample. This will also give  the applicant a good preview of the job.  

Then there is the tried and true: the job interview. The interview is often a candidates first touchpoint with a person in your organization, and a key time to explore their experience. Remember to not be too rigorous, communicate transparently about timelines, and treat everyone with the same level of dignity and respect. Just because an interviewee is not your top pick for the position doesn’t mean it’s a throwaway interview. The applicant has likely spent time and effort to get to this point, and that effort should be respected. A positive interview experience for your #2, #3, #4 candidate might lead a potential future hire down the road.   

Wrapping it Up

If your organization is experiencing high turnover, or your open positions are not filled for long periods of time, your talent acquisition machine is probably not working the way it should be. In this case, you should investigate your current sourcing strategy,  and review your selection criteria. What you and your employees put out into the world will be reflected in who answers the call when you want your team to grow. 

Due to labour shortage, hiring qualified candidates will remain difficult for the foreseeable future. But with the right people working on your Talent Acquisition program, you can find luck in even the most challenging markets. 

We’ve been proud to host a series of events this fall on resources for small and medium businesses, from technology that can improve performance, retaining your best talent, and acquiring new workers. If you want a partner to help with your recruiting engine, we’re always at the ready to join your team and help in any way we can. Additionally, we have lots of events coming your way in 2023, if you want to know when tickets are available, sign up to our mailing list for updates.  

Recap: Talent Discussions Part 1: Talent Retention