We  all know that hiring the best talent is the single biggest contributor to business growth and success in any organisation, but without the benefit of an international brand, SMEs can really struggle to win the war for talent. 
I recently wrote about the time cost to SMEs of hiring great candidates, but didn’t touch on the effects of not having a solid recruitment process in place and the resulting loss of great talent. So how do SMEs access the top candidates in the market and what opportunities could they be missing out on?

Do SMEs struggle to hire and retain top talent?

In our recently conducted survey, a third of SMEs indicated they regularly found that new hires left within six months of being employed. This can also happen in large corporates but will obviously have more impact in a smaller team where one person is a far greater proportion of the overall headcount. Without a thorough screening process for every hire, it’s much harder to get cultural fit absolutely right, which is crucial for SME recruitment. A candidate who is perfect on paper and impressive in interviews, might not pan out the way you thought and someone whose resume you overlook could be your next star employee. On the flip side, it also often leads to new starters departing of their own accord before their probationary period is up because the job isn’t what they expected, or they don’t like the company or their new team.

Where are the opportunities to hire great candidates?

According to LinkedIn’s Talent Migration Trends ANZ report, SMEs have an exciting opportunity to hire talent from large corporates – with 41% of job switchers last year moving from large enterprises to small and medium businesses. The report also states that 44% of the job switchers were experienced talent who rated culture higher than those job switchers who moved to large companies. 
This still doesn’t solve the issue of actually attracting experienced talent to an SME, but it’s good to know that these candidates have a positive outlook on moving to a small or medium business. The next step is for SMEs to recognise that enterprise talent can bring with them a wealth of knowledge and expertise – and can potentially be hired at a lower salary rate if they are certain other perks such as flexible working and office environment will make up for it.

How can SMEs attract the best candidates?

Without a compelling employer value proposition (EVP) employers might struggle to appeal to many available candidates. This is particularly true of what we term ‘passive candidates’ – those who aren’t actively looking for a new opportunity but could be the perfect fit for a role. Without direct access to these candidates, and without being able to organically attract them, how will you get their attention? 
While some SMEs struggle to define their EVP, this is also where the greatest opportunities lie: SMEs are far more likely to offer that authentic, personal working culture where employees have closer personal and work relationships with executive staff. Recent studies show that SME employees consider corporate culture and good relationships with colleagues as the main advantage of working for a small firm over a larger one. So getting this right and communicating it well (not just through vacancy advertisements) might give you that edge to compete with the bigger brands in the war for talent. 
It also might sound obvious, but you need to write a really great job ad and place it in the right media channels, otherwise no one is going to consider your role. It’s a complex process to manage (especially if it’s not your usual day job) and not something you can ‘set live’ and then leave alone hoping for the best. 
When you’ve developed an attractive EVP and start attracting great talent to your business, it’s still important to assess candidates for cultural fit. As a rule, you should build questions around your EVP into every interview process to ensure your company values align with those of your candidates’, and vice versa. This will help eliminate those new hires leaving before their six month probation is up, meaning you can concentrate on business growth and results, instead of spending time on replacement hiring. 
Creating a winning job ad and a compelling EVP are just some of the topics we will be covering in our SME webinar series. If you think you could improve in these areas, sign up here.
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