Recruitment Strategy

How to Build a Talent Acquisition Strategy for Small Businesses

Organizational leaders scoffing at the market’s recent hiring difficulties and writing them off as “pandemic-related” may be in for a surprise in the coming year - Hiring is going to continue to be tough, and 2021 was only a preview of what’s to come.  This is expected to be an especially challenging year for smaller businesses for another reason - while COVID may have sparked the “Great Resignation” and created an all-out war for talent, the economy has seen a sudden recovery in consumer demand.  This recent recovery in demand has left small businesses failing to fill massive amounts of new orders without sufficient staffing resources to cover them.

It’s a dynamic that has small businesses scrambling to adopt new talent acquisition strategies capable of attracting the best talent in a minimal amount of time.  With 60 unemployed workers available for every 100 unfilled positions the time for HR professionals to broaden their understanding of these modern hiring strategies is now.  There are fantastic resources online that can help you understand talent acquisition in a more practical sense, but there are no substitutions to the strategies we cover below.  

Objectives of Talent Acquisition 

For a small business to be successful in attracting the perfect candidate in a job market that is tilted so heavily in the favor of the candidate, they need to stop looking at the process as simple recruiting and begin to think in terms of high-level strategy. 

Recruitment is a harried process of filling an open position ASAP to keep the wheels of an organization turning.  Sometimes referred to as “reactive recruitment”, it commonly resembles a fast-paced, cursory analysis of resumes and a single round of interviewing to quickly fill a role with minimal consideration over the long-term effects of hiring the wrong person.  Recruitment still has its role in the modern job market, but it shouldn’t be relied upon to produce favorable results for every position.      

Talent acquisition is not the process of simply replacing an employee – it is a deliberate effort to craft a workforce by clearly defining the requirements of a vacant role, and then marketing to passive and active job-seekers alike on social media platforms and then engaging with those candidates.  These efforts are all undertaken to persuade the best of them to join an organization on a long-term basis.

Benefits of Building a Modern Talent Acquisition Strategy

In 2022, the overall success of an organization is based almost entirely on the talent of its workforce.  Small businesses that prioritize the implementation of the strategies listed below position themselves to become leaders within their industries, not to mention how these strategies contribute to building a pipeline of talented candidates that can be drawn upon overtime to fill key positions.  Modern talent acquisition strategies also have a direct connection to reduced organizational expenses and higher profits.  

Finally, it’s worth noting that 7 out of 10 recruitment professionals believe that investing in new HR technologies is the key to unlocking enhanced recruitment results over the next five years.  When these HR technologies are married to the strategies discussed below, small businesses are poised for the very best success in the modern job market.

Build Your Brand First – Differentiate from the Competition

Branding needs to be an essential component of any organization’s talent acquisition strategy in 2022.  Look to the marketing profession if you need to, but organizations need to find a way to get in front of their desired candidates.  Building an online brand that proactively engages with the public can yield enormous dividends when trying to attract talented candidates.  Remember, potential employees will want to know about your recruitment processes and what your culture is like, including what kind of incentives your organization might offer.  

Building your brand means so much more than simply posting information.  To build your brand successfully, organizations need to ask themselves “are we engaging with the people who are responding to our posts?”

Building your brand successfully means building dynamic relationships with the people who are responding to your posts.  A recent study shows that 4 out of 5 candidates won’t accept an offer from a company with a bad online reputation.  To avoid this, small businesses need to be sure they are talking to their online audience and be sure they are sharing requested information.  Over 70% of the world’s HR leaders believe that the perception of their organization’s brand has a significant impact on hiring.

Assemble Talent Acquisition Team

The size of a talent acquisition team depends largely on the size of an organization.  For some, recruiting and hiring might be the sole responsibility of a single person, but that team or person needs to be finely tuned in to the needs of their organization.  If a business offers technical services then perhaps the talent acquisition responsibilities should be handled by a specialized technical recruiter.

For some small businesses, their talent acquisition strategy begins by hiring an HR generalist.  As the organization expands, the HR generalist can embark on hiring specialists such as a recruitment coordinator or hire a recruitment agency.  However, there should be one person responsible for an organization’s talent acquisition strategy that can communicate that vision and hold other parties accountable for adhering to an organization’s strategic priorities.

Evaluate Application & Hiring Procedures

Once a team is in place, the first task is to administer a detailed analysis of hiring processes already in place to identify redundancies and inefficiencies.  When evaluating these processes, the best strategy is to determine the amount of time that is required for each step.  Ask what steps can be automated?   A rule of thumb could be that any task that needs to be done five or more times a day is a process that should be automated

Recent innovations in HR technologies offer automation and artificial intelligence solutions that are remarkably effective in improving the quality of hiring.  Therefore, small businesses need to build an awareness of the technical options they have when refining their talent acquisition strategies.  Also, society is often “on the go” and a small business can lose more than half of the best Gen Z and millennial candidates if your application process appears outdated. 

Building a successful talent acquisition strategy means modernizing your application and hiring procedures for a post-pandemic world that has gone digital.  Remember, the workforce is wildly different than it was just a few years ago.  Many potential candidates, especially the younger crowd, prefer to communicate via text instead of email.  Small businesses that modernize their hiring processes to fit these needs will be able to cast a wider net of talents.

Audit Personnel and Talent Requirements

The talent acquisition team or person that is responsible for locating and hiring talent should have a clear understanding of what skills their staff currently has, and what skills are still needed.  When small businesses neglect to upskill their current employees or to properly screen new candidates for the right skill set, it hurts productivity.

Small businesses that skip this part of the talent acquisition equation or want to avoid spending money to upskill their existing workforce are simply and willfully holding their companies back from achieving greater success by incubating an environment of unsatisfied, under-skilled workers.

When auditing your workforce, remember that new skills can accelerate innovative thinking.  Making an accurate determination of a workforce’s skill set can be useful in establishing a roster of trainings and seminars to offer employees.

Investing in your workforce is also a wonderful way to boost employee retention rates. 

Define a Suitable Candidate

Define what you want before you start spending money to find it.  Hiring a new employee without a clear roadmap of what they are expected to achieve and when is not a prudent strategy.  Without a clear job description, new employees won’t have the information to know how their performance will be judged.  In most cases, the hire fails, and the cycle begins again.  At nearly $15,000 per bad hire, this is a crucial part of a talent acquisition strategy.  

A small business has a much greater chance of retaining and growing their new hire into a key contributor if they clearly define the details of their role. 

Freelance or Direct Hire

The pandemic has made marvelous contributions towards the acceleration of “the gig economy” and, for some small businesses, building an understanding of how this new breed of worker potentially fits into their business model can yield remarkable results.  The gig economy has never had so much to offer and every small business should consider it as a component of their talent acquisition strategy.

Even with technologies that allow recruiters to scour the internet for candidate data and then pair it with extensive interviewing we still find it challenging to accurately assess how well a new employee will fit with an existing team. Freelancing continues to be an increasingly more resourceful avenue for getting certain things done.  A survey conducted last fall revealed that more than 70% of hiring managers plan to either continue or increase their utilization of the gig economy in 2022.

A small business has a role to play to make this strategy successful, however.  Efforts should be taken to make freelancers feel like their officially “part of the team” and not treated, by anyone on staff, as if they are just part-time vendors. Having a positive work or team culture in place when the freelancer arrives will ensure this. 

Finding New Employees

An oversimplified, yet valid, question to be asking when building a talent acquisition strategy is where do you recruit new employees from? Answering this question will have much to do with the type of skills that a small business requires.  A recruitment plan for a social media specialist may be glaringly different from a recruitment plan for, say, a physical therapist.

There are abundant resources online to help organizations refine their search for a particular employee skill set, but the distinction in 2022 is that recruiters will have a much more active role to play.  Recruiters that simply post their open positions on the major job boards and then feel as though they can simply wait for resumes to come in may have some success in getting interest, but the best candidates want to be engaged with (which we touch on later).

Not unlike everything else, Google is usually the first stop for people when they’re searching for a job so your talent acquisition strategy should consider what can be done to optimize job postings to increase the likelihood of landing at the top of search results.

Never has technology been as supportive as it is now in helping small businesses to find new employees.  The innovations in Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems have been remarkable in terms of their ability to help recruiters cast a much wider net.  The best HR technologies even allow you to build a pipeline of candidates that you draw upon for future roles.

Create an EVP

Does your small business have one?  If it doesn’t, part of your talent acquisition strategy in 2022 should be to build and promote one.  An employee value proposition (EVP) is essentially a promotion to a global community of active and passive job-seekers telling them what your small business offers that makes it such a wonderful and desirable place to work.  

Much like a mission statement, EVPs are refined over time and their development should be on a recurring agenda that company leadership will participate in.  The best EVPs answer questions like what kind of incentives your company offers and they promote the characteristics of a small business that employees value.

EVPs are not to be discounted as “fluff” – they genuinely work!  In fact, research has shown that organizations with an EVP strategy have decreased employee turnover by almost 70%.  What’s more, EVPs play a role in building an inclusive work environment that serves to attract diversified talent.  Reports show that diversified companies are more profitable and innovative than their non-diversified competitors.  

Candidate Engagement

Candidate engagement has rapidly become perhaps the most effective talent acquisition strategy for attracting talent in the modern job market.  In the past, the hiring process was simply about a company assessing swaths of resumes to find the best people to call in for an interview.

Now, recruiters are actively engaging with candidates throughout each step of the recruiting and hiring process.  This is known as candidate engagement.  The reason it should be part of your talent acquisition strategy is that modern candidates view their recruitment experience as a criterion in deciding whether an organization is a right choice for employment.  Before organizations started making candidate engagement a priority, a chief complaint of job applicants was not hearing back from recruiters, and not knowing what to expect next in the hiring process.

Recent innovations in HR technology are now giving recruiters the tools they need to create a more engaging and positive experience for all candidates.

Boost the Benefits Package

The pandemic caused a lot of people to re-examine their lives and their relationships with family.  In a post-pandemic world, people value their health and their relationships more than ever and organizations are constructing benefit packages that include perks to ensure employees can maintain a healthy, productive lifestyle.  For example, the search for remote work has grown exponentially since March of 2020 and more companies are offering this condition to attract the best candidates.

Small businesses will need to up their game when it comes to the benefits package and not rely exclusively on a new employee’s simple appreciation that they have a job.  The market is beyond that now.

Sign-on bonuses, health club memberships, more paid leave, even daycare options are now put on the table to attract the best candidates.  In fact, the number of postings for jobs that offered a hiring bonus doubled between the Spring of 2020 and the Fall of 2021.

Succession Planning & Employee Retention

Can you believe that as many as one-third of all the workers in America quit through the end of last year?   

And they aren’t leaving because of money.  Workers want flexibility, purpose and to be shown that they are valued.  One recent report that surveyed 2,000 employees revealed that 1 out of 5 employees have never received any kind of reward or recognition from their employer.  Considering how important employees are to their organization, that’s an astonishing amount of neglect. 

Employee retention can be achieved by simply rewarding workers with days off, more remote work opportunities, gift cards, and offer skills enhancement. 

Succession planning is a process of ensuring talent continuity within a company and takes anywhere from 12 to 36 months for planning.  The application of succession planning strategies isn’t nearly as complicated as the term sounds, and every small business should adopt some form of succession planning, especially for those in key leadership positions.

Adopt HR Technologies 

Perhaps the most important strategy of all.  Small businesses today are facing intense pressure from global competition, and the most tech-savvy among them will lead their respective industries.  The fact is that any small business today that isn’t prioritizing investments in HR technologies as a component of its talent acquisition strategy is setting itself up for failure.  HR technologies are rapidly becoming a necessary strategic investment for any company that wants to be competitive in the post-pandemic market.

By adopting HR technologies like cloud-based Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), organizations of all sizes can collect and analyze key candidate metrics faster and more accurately which facilitates good decision making, not to mention how significantly these technologies can accelerate the recruitment and hiring process.

In a recent report from a human capital management firm, it was reported that over 65% of companies increased their investment in talent acquisition technologies in 2021, and more than 70% intend to increase their investment in such technologies in 2022.

Manatal – Industry Leading HR Technologies

Manatal is an industry-leading technology company and guiding force in the world of innovative HR technologies.  With a comprehensive understanding of the technicalities of every HR process, Manatal has successfully developed what is recognized as the most resourceful and productive recruitment software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform on the market today.  Manatal’s platform includes a wide array of tools for sourcing and managing candidates throughout the entire recruitment process and it is used by industry leaders throughout the world.

Small businesses can take advantage of our 14-day free trial (no credit card required) via our website, or book a demo call with one of our consultants to help you understand how your business can leverage our platform to accelerate the results of the strategies discussed above.

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