SME’s How to Compete for the Best Candidates

Recruiting in any organisation can be challenging, but even more so within the growing SME market. With limited resources and hard competition from the larger organisations picking off the top talent, companies looking to grow quickly can soon find themselves in a stalemate when it comes to increasing staff.

As part of our Recruiting Weekly series,We spoke to Martin Evans from Psixty Recruitment who has over 15 years’ experience in the recruitment industry helping his client base drive their recruitment to the next level, gives his advice on how SMEs can compete for the best candidates.

Q1. So the big question all SMEs want to know is, how do they attract the top talent over the big players?

SMEs need to be able to differentiate from their larger competitors and move away from trying to compete in the standard sense. SMEs have a lot to offer their employees but it is important to manage these expectations.

Growing SMEs are in a unique position against the corporates; they have the budgets to recruit and the need to recruit quickly, but they don’t have the red tape restrictions that a larger organisation does.

Larger organisations use technologies to sift through the candidates CVs – looking for suitable candidates based on keywords that an algorithm searches for – so they can miss out on good or unique candidates. By working closely with a recruitment agency, SMEs can have the benefit of seeing the right number of CVs at the right level, taking out the need to spend hours trawling through CVs, selecting and contacting candidates, setting up interviews etc.

Q2. So how do you feel SMEs can stand a strong chance against the bigger players?

In my experience employee engagement is key. Create your brand ambassadors from the moment they step through the door. It’s an old saying but people buy people and personal recommendations sell; this is exactly the same when thinking about your recruitment and retention of staff.

Another way to create great employee engagement, which some corporate organisations fail to do, is being open and transparent with their employees. Keeping them up to date on company developments creates a trust in the brand and opens the doors, and this will often not be possible in a larger organisation where work in done in silos.

Q3. Do you think SMEs should look at the trainee or graduate market?

Yes 100%, but only if it suits the SMEs position at the time. As most graduates come to organisations fresh from study they are able to bring new ideas and can be easily moulded to suit the organisation. The Institute of Employment Studies (IES) research recently reported that Graduate Retention rates are high at 86% on average after three years, making the return on investment a sound option.

Q4. What would you say to a candidate weighing up the choice of an SME or an enterprise-level organisation? What benefits would an SME have over the alternatives?

There is a lot of flexibility when working within an SME compared to a corporate, and that’s increasingly appealing to the job market; people need flexibility and ownership of their working days, and not having the corporate tape this makes SMEs a good option

Benefits of quicker progression is a key benefit, people that get into the business during a period of growth and expansion can have a career path that wouldn’t be available within a corporate organisation. I’ve worked with a lot of clients who offer shares and bigger benefits – and as the organisations grows, so do these benefits.

Martin’s recruitment experience spans a number of vertical markets and various positions. He is heavily involved in the recruitment processes for a various SME’s. 

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