Why size can be an SME’s biggest advantage when hiring

After recently revealing the results of the global ‘Work Satisfaction Survey’, LinkedIn’s Dan Dackombe looks at why SMEs have everything to play for when it comes to recruitment.

All too often, small businesses worry that they’re at a disadvantage when it comes to hiring. Competing against big names, and even bigger reputations, has resulted in more than three quarters (77 per cent) of SME leaders feeling like they have to work harder than their corporate counterparts when it comes to attracting the best talent.

But in reality, a small business’ size is a hidden ace up their sleeve. Start-ups and SMEs have become hugely attractive places to work, and our latest research, released to coincide with the launch of our latest tool for spotting job-seekers, ‘Open Candidates’, shows that an overwhelming 87 per cent of professionals like the idea of working for a small or medium-sized business.

On top of this, those already working for SMEs are some of the happiest employees in the UK. Our recent survey showed that 45 per cent of professionals working for SMEs describe themselves as very or completely fulfilled at work, compared to only 33 per cent of those working for Britain’s largest companies. And, SME employees are willing to shout about this, with 77 per cent saying they would be happy to endorse their employers on social media.

This presents a huge opportunity for small businesses, especially when it comes to recruiting. Smart people know smart people, and there’s a lot of value to gain from empowering your employees to become brand ambassadors, and unlocking their networks. Here are my tips on how to involve your employees when it comes to finding your next hire:

Make it easy

To help your employees build your brand, you need to make sure that it’s easy for existing teams, as well as prospects, to find and follow your company on social media. There are some simple ways of doing this, including adding your social details on your company signature and talking openly about your social media strategy in team meetings.

If you’re sharing company news with your employees, you should suggest they share the news too, and send round some pre-written updates that they can easily use on Twitter and LinkedIn, for example. It is often the case that these small nudges that can make a big difference when it comes to engaging existing employees and getting them to help with your recruitment drive.

Audience matters

When asking employees to help promote company news to potential candidates, it’s important to take a step back and think about who you are trying to reach and where that audience will be.

Get visual

A great way of giving people a window into your company is through videos and pictures. We’ve found that it’s best to involve your employees in this, by letting them talk about their role and experience on camera and encouraging them to take images at team events to share on social media.

You don’t need to get too technical or have a huge budget in order to do this well either, as most smartphones offer high quality images and video – and there’s a multitude of simple editing applications to give the finished product a high-end feel.

Culture is key

The best employee endorsements are organic; while you can encourage employees to share updates and open up their networks, ultimately they have to be onboard with you as an employer and want to support your efforts to find new talent.

This starts by having a good company culture; if your employees are already happy and enthusiastic about their workplace, then advocating on the company’s behalf isn’t a huge jump. I recommend that you begin at the top, with the leadership team setting an example by being fully engaged on social media and regularly posting content. This will help your employees feel comfortable sharing work news online, and also guide them as to the kinds of content they could post.

Size isn’t everything

You only have to look at the LinkedIn member network to know that there’s a multitude of talented professionals out there who are searching for jobs with SMEs.

So, if you’re looking to hire, use the the size of your company to your advantage and empower your employees to share their work experiences. By bringing your employees along on the journey, and establishing yourself online, you’ll find that it’s much easier to reach out to new talent and convince them your business is a great place to be.

Dan Dackombe is director of talent solutions at LinkedIn.

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