Hiring is getting extremely competitive. Candidates have a plethora of resources for finding positions — and skilled workers are in peak demand. As a small business, you need to raise your game to compete with the larger companies so you also have a shot at strong candidates. This starts with how you handle the hiring process.

Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to overcome these challenges — and find the right person for the job.

Steer Clear of the Mundane

It’s essential you make your business stand out online because this is the way most applicants search. In fact, the Pew Research Center found that the number of job seekers using the internet to find work has more than doubled since 2005.

One of the easier ways is to inject personality into your job listing. If you use boring boilerplate language, candidates won’t know why you’re special and what it’s like working at your company.

Think of your job posting as a billboard for your business. Give it a little pizzazz — and you’ll get more attention from job seekers. Be sure to include any special benefits your company provides. Many times, small businesses can offer unique benefits that big businesses can’t. For example, if you offer flexible schedules, mention that in your ad. Can employees occasionally work from home? Share this, too.

Be a Social Butterfly

It’s no secret that applicants turn to social media when looking for work. And leading the pack is LinkedIn. This resource is the predominant network for professional recruiting, and 96% of employers surveyed by the Society for Human Resources Management are using it for recruitment. Why is this?

LinkedIn’s Recruiting Solutions lets companies easily source candidates, share and advertise jobs, and create company career pages to attract and engage talent. Job seekers can search for positions directly on LinkedIn and follow companies to get the latest news and current job openings.

Respondents to a SHRM study ranked LinkedIn as the most effective social media site, followed by Facebook (58%) and Twitter (42%).

If you’re using LinkedIn, focus on your profile, and make sure it’s carefully optimized with search terms related to your open positions, so applicants can find you. Also, because LinkedIn charges to post a position on the site, consider a free way to advertise a job opening.

Just use your network activity box (also commonly called the status box) to communicate to your connections that you’re hiring. (For example: “I’m looking for qualified customer service reps. Contact me if you know anyone who might fit the bill.”)

Don’t overlook other social media sites. If your company has a Facebook page, use it as an inexpensive means to communicate that you’re hiring.

And then, of course, there’s word of mouth. Some of the best referrals come from current employees. Your superstars probably know other superstars, so let your staff know you’re hiring and tell them to send interested applicants your way.

Referred employees tend to be happy with their new jobs. A talent acquisition survey found that 65% of referred employees were very satisfied with the job fit or their ability to fulfill the requirements of the position.

You may want to implement a referral program in your business as well. A simple way to do this is to offer employees a cash incentive for hired referrals who pass the 90-day mark.

Let Your Website Persuade

You likely developed your website with the intent on selling to customers. But it’s also a great selling tool for job candidates.

Again, most applicants use internet searches to look for work. And candidates applying at your company are virtually guaranteed to check you out online. That’s why your website is such an important tool in the hiring process. It’s the first impression you’ll make with job seekers.

Your website should appeal to the type of people you want to recruit. This means a professional and current appearance, with no broken links or missing pages.

Your “About Us” page should tell your story so job seekers can read about who you are, what you do and how you do it. It’s also a great place to brag about your successes. Everyone wants to work for a winning company.

The “Career” page should be prominent on your home page and easily accessible. To be an effective selling tool, it should:

  • Tout the benefits of working for your company
  • Incorporate quotes from current staff talking about their positive experiences
  • Show pictures of company events

Just as important, this section should reflect your company culture. If your company is a fun, casual place to work, be sure the content reflects this. On the other hand, if your business is high-tech and progressive, emphasize that.

Set up email alerts for people who want to be notified of new job opportunities. List the job descriptions of positions you regularly hire. When a candidate has relevant experience, tell him or her to apply even when a job isn’t listed. After all, you’re always looking for talented team members!

Finally, it’s essential to provide a way for applicants to apply online. They should be able to easily fill out a job application and attach a cover letter and resume through your website.

Make sure you’re using a job application that is compliant with federal and state laws. Generic applications commonly found online often contain illegal questions.

Don’t Leave ‘Em Hanging

Once you start the interviewing process, do everything you can to keep candidates informed and interested. Always end your interviews by explaining what’s next. Let the applicant know your general timelines and the notification process. For example, share when you’re in the initial rounds of interviews and how you contact applicants — as well as any additional steps in the process, such as background checks or drug testing.

You never want a promising candidate to think he or she is out of the running. Professional communication can keep candidates interested and hopefully keep them from accepting another job — without talking to you first. Remember: The best candidates might be contacted by multiple companies. You want them to be excited about the opportunity to work with you.

If you’re certain you want to hire a candidate, make your offer quickly. And if you know the person isn’t right for the job, send a rejection letter. It leaves a good impression of your company when you make the effort to let applicants know of your decision.

Upgrade Your Hiring Process

Finding the best person for the job requires the best tools. Expand your applicant pool and improve your screening process with the Job Application Smart App, which allows you to link an electronic employment application on your website, to online job ads and via email. Accelerate your hiring process to present a more professional image with the Applicant Tracking Smart App. Use the Applicant Tracking app to incorporate a consistent, legal and streamlined tracking process that keeps you organized and ensures consistent communication.

Key Takeaways
  • Make your business stand out online because this is the way most applicants search for jobs.
  • Inject personality into your online job posting, conveying why your company is special to candidates.
  • Take advantage of social media to get the word out that you’re hiring.
  • Use your website as a recruiting tool — and make sure your career page reflects your company culture.
  • Use professional and consistent communication to keep candidates informed and engaged.