Hiring Advice: How Can Small Business Compete for Talent

Amy McCloskey Tobin

Each month we will ask our hiring experts in the WorkConnect by SAP Community for input on some of the most pressing needs of companies trying to hire in this competitive job market. Here’s the advice we sought this month:

If you were advising a small business competing with larger companies for a candidate, what is the one thing they can do to set themselves apart in the hiring process?


In smaller organizations, there is often more opportunity to learn and expand beyond your corporate job description. Larger companies tend to create specialized roles, where smaller companies will require more generalized skills across your subject matter area and department, sometimes reaching into other areas. That’s a selling point for the right person. – Jennifer Novak, Next Rise Marketing


In smaller companies, your voice is more likely to be heard by executive management than at larger companies.

Use whatever characteristics are unique to your company. Create a story that captures that uniqueness and use that to market your jobs. Marketing the story of what makes your company unique will attract the right candidates.

Showcase company culture and talent branding in social media & marketing, create content with testimonials from employees that shows how much they love it, encourage employees to be ambassadors so people in their network will apply. Highlighting how they make an impact in their community is always good. They’re local, so they should support the local community.

On the candidate-side of things, companies need to make sure they are highlighting perks of the position and their company’s culture in job descriptions and during the hiring process. – Dominick Dayton Finetti, Scribe Tree



In action, it means making sure you have someone who understands this value when crafting the job posting, the social media outreach, and the marketing. Current employees who love the vibe of the company are best at spreading the word. And, be responsive! It’s appalling how many people come away from interviews with large companies, even second on-site interviews, and hear crickets. Nada. That doesn’t do much for positive reviews. Make every interaction a chance to highlight the respect you have for individuals considering your organization. – Barbara Berger, Career Wellness Partners


If I was responsible for hiring for a small business, you bet that I would research the heck out of potential hires. Our business might not be able to provide the most comprehensive benefits or the most lucrative package, but if I know the candidate well enough, I can craft a personalized package. I can highlight a career pathway that fits the goals that I’ve found in my research. I would also suggest to all small businesses to have a “personalization” fund. It doesn’t have to be much, $100 to $200 is plenty, that you can use for a personalized incentive to show that you truly care about the person who you are trying to hire. This could be a Costco membership, a park pass, pottery class, etc. You might not be able to give someone RRSP (401K for you Americans) matching, but going that extra step in the offer goes a LONG way. – Samantha Estoesta Willams, Madhatter Technology


Smaller companies need to market themselves to the proper candidates. In other words, there are job candidates who love the idea of variety and more ownership but don’t expect the salary that large companies offer. These are the kinds of candidates smaller companies need to pursue.

I would love to see a job description that starts with, “We’re a small company that dreams big. You won’t make a boat-load of money, but you’ll love coming to work every day.” I remember a commercial from Snapple, which essentially said they are the third largest beverage company and are happy.

This said, there are plenty of talented people who want the culture and variety smaller companies offer. They don’t want to be pigeon-holed into positions that have them performing few tasks, regardless of salary. –Bob McIntosh, Career Center of Lowell

Contributing Author

Amy McCloskey Tobin is a sales professional, writer, and content strategist. She writes on sales, small business, diversity,k generational insights, and leadership.


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