One of the more frustrating rituals small business owners know all too well is putting out a job listing and finding no suitable candidates. Worse is finding a perfect candidate but not aligning on payment. Hiring has become a frustration, especially for small businesses who may not be able to compete dollar-for-dollar with corporate neighbors or other local competition. Instead of conceding to unrealistic rates for your business, consider that there are more than a few methods and strategies to pulling in competent and enthusiastic candidates. An essential element to “hiring around pay rates” is indeed, finding people to hire, so consider this collection of tips and inspirations to galvanize your hiring game and bring in staff who see your business as more than a paycheck.
Would You Work Here?
Before even considering how to attract enthusiastic candidates, you must ask if your business – in its current state – is worth getting excited about. No, this doesn’t mean you have to run a party rental company full of bouncy castles and clown makeup to have an exciting business. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of the candidate and determine if your business in its current state exudes an energy of Valuable Experience, Genuine Interest, or any tangible value add for the employee’s personal growth.
Employees who value more than pay value themselves, so while you may not be able to pay them competitively, there must be something else there. Or more specifically, candidates and employees must feel that something else is there. Industrious younger candidates are generally interested in jobs that continue their education in a certain field or could lead to more specialized work in the future; think hard about how your business can represent a prideful step on a young person’s employment journey.
Speaking of young people, one of the most meaningful avenues to meeting young candidates are career fairs and employment fairs at educational institutions. Most career fairs allow you to spend longer amounts of time getting to know your potential candidates; this window of time is more so for you to sell the merits of your company to them rather than the other way around. Schools and college campuses are perhaps one of the greatest places to find enthusiastic, young candidates; and by having a physical presence as well as physical staff at the event, you can make an immediate and more positive impression than if those same people had simply seen your business on an Internet job listing. As the name says, a career fair is just that; a place for hopefuls to connect with a career. Be certain that your messaging and materials sufficiently reflect that candidates who choose to work for your business will find everything that comes with a fulfilling career and more.
Another unorthodox location to seek out candidates are rehabilitation centers and reentering the workforce centers. Both regularly offer job training programs for those within the centers. Reentering the work world with a criminal record or simply on the wrong foot due to past addiction and rehab is exceedingly difficult. By giving these unlucky people another chance, you are more than likely to find several people enthusiastic to work at your business.
City Hall & Community Boards
Many cities and townships would be enthusiastic to mention your business in community messaging if you approach them. Consider making a meeting with your local community board to see, first, how your business can get involved in the local community, and second, how they can help connect with other service-minded and industrious candidates. Make your business’s name known at charity events or local clean-ups. Making your name known, however, does not mean cutting a check and putting up a sign. If you are looking to convince people that working for your company will benefit the common good, you’ll need boots on the ground and ammunition to back those claims. By spending time at community service events, you’ll meet people who are personally driven and interested in communal good; these are the exact same people who will likely work at a business for its merits rather than its paychecks.
Assert Your Humanitarian Interests
As an extension of the previous point, meaningfully intertwine your business with one or several charitable organizations. Here’s an essential caveat, however: attach yourself to the charities you are already enthusiastic about. Don’t Google “charities to convince people my company is worth working for” because true humanitarians– as well the people who are likely to seek out a job on merit – can smell inauthenticity like sulfur. If people think you are using charities to pull in new enthusiastic staff, you’re sunk. This section, instead, is a reminder to remain authentic to yourself when making changes for recruitment. Wear your own interests on your sleeve and be your authentic self, good candidates will likely see this as a plus in itself.
They’re Out There, But Not for Long
Ponce de Leon would have done well if there was an article out there called “How to Find the Fountain of Youth,” and that can sometimes feel frightfully similar to “Where to Find Employees Who Value More than Pay.” Like good old Ponce, though, both answers are within you, the business owner. Employees value themselves and their happiness. In short, if your business can contribute to their satisfaction or overall happiness, you are more than likely to make a meaningful connection. So while the number of candidates seeking more than cash may seem slim, the reality is that those candidates are, instead, wildly driven and don’t stay unemployed for long. By making your business known and making connections with the right crowds, it is more than likely that your small business will be recognized for its merits over its ability to cut big checks.