How to attract great candidates on a budget
Operating on a small recruitment budget doesn’t mean businesses can’t market themselves as an attractive place to work and appeal to great candidates.

From the job ad through to the interview process, Nathalie Lynton from Shared and Halved Consulting says, “No budget? No problem.” Lynton recommends small businesses capitalise on different (and usually free or low-cost) resources to maximise their chances of appealing to great talent.

A standout careers page

It’s imperative that candidates can easily find your business’s website. “There should be a page about what it’s like to be an employee at your company,” says Lynton. She suggests including images of employees, their career profiles, photographs of company events, as well as a list of current vacancies. “You can even post videos about ‘a day in the life’ of one of your employees,” Lynton says. “You don’t need any budget for this – you can use your phone and there are lots of photo editing apps available.”

Outstanding ad copy

Lynton recommends adding your logo to your recruitment ad. “It makes it polished and visually appealing,” she says. “It’s an ad, so advertise!” Use lots of white space, bold type, action words, headings and subheadings, as these types of ads are more appealing to candidates.

Go viral

Using your existing network of friends, family and colleagues can really help boost the number of people who see your ad. Lynton suggests forwarding your job ad to people you know and asking them to send it on, in addition to posting it on social media.

“If you’ve got 20 employees, and they post the ad to their social media accounts, then your ad may go out to 4,000 people, most of them the right demographic,” Lynton says. “If only 0.5 per cent are the right fit, you’ve drawn 20 candidates toward your business – and it’s costs you nothing.”

What businesses with small budgets can offer candidates during the recruitment process

According to Lynton, small businesses have more power than they realise when it comes to recruitment and interviews. “Nothing irritates candidates more than a 200-step application process,” she says. “A great thing about interviewing with a small business is that you don’t have to go for a six-round interview process.”

This is something that pastry chef Chris Edwards has found in running his small business, Peddling Pastry. “Over the years we have learned that skills need to be demonstrated,” he says. “It is one thing to look at a CV and tick off the skills that someone claims to have, but another to demonstrate them in a kitchen and customer service environment.”

Skill-based interviewing

Skill-based interviewing can save small businesses time and money. “Our second interview will always be in the kitchen or in our patisserie so we can ask the candidate to demonstrate a particular task or set of tasks that we believe core to the role we are recruiting for,” says Edwards. “Skill-based interviewing also gives you the opportunity to observe a candidate’s general behaviours, such as how they present themselves, how they organise their work space and importantly how they interact with other members of the team.”

Emphasise the benefits

Small businesses can be much more agile than big organisations. This means that you can usually offer many of the benefits that candidates are looking for. “We find that flexibility is the key to attracting and retaining great staff and as an small business, we are lucky that we can be adaptive to the demands of our team who are often juggling parenting and work,” says Edwards. Edwards says he is happy to discuss minimum and maximum hours rather than a fixed 38-hour week.

When advertising a position, it’s important to emphasise the benefits that you offer, such as flexibility in working hours, proximity to childcare or opportunities to work from home. “We focus on flexible work arrangements and personality over set skills as we believe that we can train passionate people,” Edwards says.

The personal touch

Many small businesses can offer candidates an up-close-and-personal look at the environment they may be working in. “Being transparent about what your workplace looks and feels like is key,” says Lynton. Lynton suggests recruiters take to social media and file Instagram stories or use Snapchat as additional recruitment tools to engage potential candidates. “If your leaders are not blogging, why not?” she asks. “The world wants to hear what they have to say and so do candidates.” This is a key way of building your social media collateral and brand. And best of all, it’s free.