By Deborah Sweeney
Salesforce Research recently released the third edition of the Small & Medium Business Trends Report. The report shares insights from more than 2,000 business owners and leaders throughout the world on topics that include how demographics shape entrepreneurial experiences, how customer expectations dictate investment plans, the role of technology in a small business, and the increasing need to establish and retain trust.
The report also breaks down responses according to country of the respondents. For the United States, 624 small business leaders said hiring the right talent is the number one factor constraining their business activities, and they ranked hiring and retaining employees as the number two growth challenge they will be facing over the next two years. (Their number one challenge is maintaining financial growth.)
According to the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy, there are 30.7 million small businesses in the United States, and 59.9 million people are employed by small businesses. Yet, we continue to hear stories in the news of small businesses struggling to find and retain talent. The truth is there isn’t one magic answer on how to keep your employees forever. However, there are small, significant steps small businesses can take to ensure they attract the best possible talent.
Create a vision statement
It is possible your small business already has a mission statement. Much like an entrepreneur, a mission statement must also “wear” a lot of hats. It should be able to clearly define what the business does, what it can do for customers today, and connect consumers to your brand through inclusive and inspiring language.
While mission statements give potential new hires an opportunity to learn more about your business and its values, they aren’t built for tomorrow. Mission statements generally only have an understanding of what will happen today. This is where it’s key for small businesses to craft a vision statement alongside a mission statement.
Vision statements are a glimpse into what the business seeks to become and how it will continue to better itself. This is appealing to most, if not all, demographics. Most job seekers look for businesses that align with their beliefs. They want to be part of working towards that greater good. Seeing a vision statement that matches their values will only draw them towards your business and get them interested in finding a role in your company.
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Overhaul job descriptions
The wrong job descriptions might be scaring away the right talent for your business. Read through job descriptions you may have posted in the past. How did you feel after reading the description? Did it accurately describe the role? Did it reflect the voice of your business?
If you answered “no” to any of the questions, it’s time to revamp your job descriptions. Consider these points during the revision process:
- Simplify the workload. Avoid listing every single duty within a specific position. If you have upwards to 20 bullets in a job listing, chances are potential talent will lose interest or feel overwhelmed. Narrow it down to a handful of key responsibilities. You can discuss more details during interviews.
- Personalize to find the right fit. Most small businesses want to recruit talent who not only can do their jobs, but who can fit into the company culture. Add a snippet to your description that describes the workplace environment: Is the office outgoing? Cool with flexible scheduling? Dog friendly? Then, flip the switch on the ideal candidate who would thrive in this atmosphere: What kinds of personality traits and characteristics should they possess? Are you looking for an accomplished multitasker? Someone who can keep calm during hectic seasons? Do you want someone who is adept at taking initiative?
- Mention benefits in brief. These may be discussed in-depth during the interview, but 401(k) plans and dental insurance should not be a focal point in a job description.
- Let the brand’s voice shine. Even if it’s just a job description, your business should be able to easily reflect what it does throughout the listing. Be yourself, avoid complicated jargon, highlight major accomplishments (like awards or media mentions), and be authentic.
Finding—and retaining—talented employees generally doesn’t happen overnight. It also doesn’t happen in less than a week after sharing the job listing. Speed isn’t a hack for finding talented employees.
The real hack for finding and retaining talent? Intention. Once a small business has created a vision statement and updated job descriptions to reflect the environment and its needs, it should be slow to hire. Work alongside HR to sort through resumes, and conduct due diligence, researching potential candidates online.
If there’s no immediate fit, regroup and re-strategize. Where else can you post the job listing? Are certain job boards popular with the talent you’re looking to hire? Can you tell existing employees so they can send along potential referrals?
Make it a point to hire slowly and with intention. You’re in it for the long run with your small business and the talent you hire should be on the same page.
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