7 Ways to Distinguish your Business in a Competitive Hiring Environment

With new businesses starting up every day, the hiring environment has become very competitive. Businesses need team members to serve clients and grow. This requires ‘recruitment’ which can take many forms like hiring full or part-time, subcontracting, and offshoring. So, how do you attract new staff, especially entry-level employees, to work in your firm?

The answer is complicated. Everyone is different… and the concept of employment is evolving fast. We asked some young professionals for THEIR views.

Whatever the approach, a recruitment strategy should help the business to stand out from other options candidates are considering.

We asked some recent graduates what attracts them to businesses as potential employers and to provide some examples.

Here’s a summary of their feedback.


An Employer with Resilience

A majority of graduates said they want to ‘avoid employment uncertainty’, especially when beginning their careers. They prefer to ‘find their feet’ in their first role and MAY consider more ‘risky’ employment options later.

Tip: A business that shows it has weathered (or even thrived) in tough times (without reducing the team) will be more attractive to job seekers. A firm that states clearly (on their website and in interviews) how they have emerged stronger through recent economic challenges gives confidence in the future of this business.


An Employer which Stands Out

A challenge in many industries is to stand out from the competition. Differentiation can take many forms including services, clients, working conditions or culture.

Tip: Address the question. “How are we different?” throughout the recruitment process. You may not appeal to everyone… but are more likely to attract the candidates that will ‘fit’. A business might emphasise their “family values” as a differentiator. They can describe how their business has thrived under three generations of the same family and mention many family businesses they serve. Perhaps you can differentiate your business by focussing on what types of clients you look after?

An Employer which is Flexible and Responsive

Your business may be on the smaller side (revenues, number of employees, etc.) compared to employers in other industries. But this can be an advantage. A small business can easily design attractive compensation plans, provide exposure to a wide range of duties and be flexible on employment policies. (Compare this to large firms, which can be impersonal and inflexible).

Tip: Emphasize that you are flexible as an employer (while still maintaining good processes and discipline). So, consider advertising your flexibility on Work from Home and Flexible Working Hours.

An Employer Offering Attractive Compensation and Benefits

This will be a factor in swaying an applicant’s decision, especially when considering several job offers. However, applicants don’t just consider the annual compensation in the first year. Many will look at longer-term earning opportunities, like bonus plans, equity participation, and non-financial benefits.

Tip: Take a flexible view on compensation. Know that it is important but will mean different things to different candidates based on their ambitions. Tailor packages which will make sense to your target employees.

An Employer which Offers Advancement Opportunities

Career advancement can mean formal training. It can also mean exposure to new opportunities in a growing, dynamic business which will offer new management positions in the near future. A clearly-defined career path is attractive… but some candidates will recognize that the best and fastest advancement arises in ambitious firms which take on interesting and challenging projects.

Tip: Demonstrate how people learn in your business both through your professional development activities and because of your bold, innovative approach. Provide a clear Career Matrix that shows what employees are expected to be able to do to progress up the ladder. Provide opportunities for personal and leadership development (as well as technical training). Some professional services businesses even offer a ‘path to partnership’ program in which employees can receive guidance and training to prepare them for partnership. Although a small percentage actually go on to partnership, this can be very appealing to job seekers.

An Employer which Takes a Long-Term View

In some industries, businesses have short-term horizons, including the ‘exit’ of the founders as the business transitions to new owners. This can be appealing and exciting but is not ‘normal’ in professional services industries. A professional services firm that hires entry-level candidates so they can be groomed for long-term success in a growing, vibrant, stable organization is likely to be an attractive employer.

Lesson: Emphasise long-term commitment to employees since this will attract more loyal employees who want to develop their skills as the firm grows. Employers could commits to (partially) funding tertiary education for certain employees, especially with a business focus (like an eMBA). This develops skills, increases retention, and attracts employees who want to continue investing in their education.

A Successful Employer

Success means different things to different candidates but most want to feel proud of their association with their employer. Growth is an obvious indicator of success but other factors include a good reputation, significant client engagements, industry leadership, prominent partners, a track record of innovation, and community service projects.

Tip: Highlight your accomplishments, especially those which help you to stand out.

How does your business stack up on these criteria? A small tweak in your messaging may yield significant results.

If you’re looking for comprehensive business management advice, our team is here to help. Contact us today and we can provide you with ideas to help you build a better business!

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