Small Businesses Can Still Recruit Top Talent

It is often assumed that the most talented professionals will only consider working for larger companies. Positions within those organizations are perceived as more prestigious and more generously compensated.

Of course, perception is not always reality. Many small businesses offer compensation commensurate with larger companies. But, even if not, top talent can be attracted to opportunities beyond the compensation offered.

These individuals are smart, self-aware, ambitious and seeking long-term opportunities, not just a paycheck.

This can be especially true of millennial candidates, who are generally more likely than their parents to consider overall quality of life and work experience when weighing career opportunities. It can also be true of more experienced professionals, who might find themselves stuck in narrow or unchanging roles at larger companies and who are restless for something more inspiring and challenging.

Small business owners and decision-makers should not let the perceived benefits of larger companies dissuade them from pursuing talented individuals, as they can offer a number of opportunities that bigger competitors cannot.

Advantages to working for a smaller company include:

A bigger role. A leadership position in an organization of 25 to 50 people can give an individual the ability to help lead and shape an entire company. A comparable position in a large business may keep the candidate in a departmental silo, far from everything else that happens in the organization.

Access to leadership. In a small company, candidates can work with – and learn from – the ultimate decision-makers. They get to see how they work and lead their business. Plus, the candidate’s impact on the organization will be visible to the leaders who make salary and promotion choices.

Broader experience. As a member of a smaller team, candidates will often learn skills and gain insights that go far beyond the official job description. Rather than learning a role, they can learn an entire business — and by extension, understand how small businesses work. Candidates with entrepreneurial ambitions who work for a small business can gain experience to execute their plans.

Flexibility and nimbleness. Large businesses can move at a glacial pace, and individuals’ work may trickle up and down approval chains forever. Candidates can feel like nothing gets accomplished, or that their accomplishments don’t have an obvious impact. In a vibrant small business environment with fewer decision-makers and less bureaucracy, candidates eager to complete projects or win new business can have frequent opportunities to shine.

A work family. In surveys, small business owners consistently rank taking care of their employees as a top priority. When they find dedicated, talented people to become part of their team, those employees become more than essential business assets; they become members of an extended family who are treasured and retained. It’s easy to feel “at home” when working with these colleagues every day. This family-like environment can help candidates find sympathy and flexibility when personal demands require it.

The benefits of a small business can add up to a compelling value proposition for many talented individuals. Some candidates may still choose the well-known brand name, but those people probably aren’t the right fit for a small business.

Don’t automatically assume that a smaller organization is less attractive to top talent, and never apologize for it.

Sell the size as an opportunity for the right candidate to join and have a major impact on a team that’s poised to do great things.

Kristin Lockhart is vice president of recruiting services at Adams Keegan.

This article originally appeared in Memphis Business Journal.