Top Talent Tips for Small Business

WeBC August 2, 2018

Trouble finding and retaining great talent? You’re not alone. Businesses across Canada struggle to retain top people. Some say it’s too expensive to train, it’s easier to hire… but the reality is, it’s tough to find the right fit and then keep good people happy. Here are 10 talent tips for small businesses.
Talent tips

  1. Pay for quality
  2. Do PR & social media
  3. Work your network
  4. Link in more
  5. Ask around
  6. Engage recruiters
  7. Self your culture
  8. Self-publish
  9. Work your websites
  10. Always follow up

BONUS: Onboard properly

Pay for quality

Good people cost more. Get used to it. One awesome new employee can return five times their output every time you motivate them. Recognition is its own reward and employees seek acknowledgement from their boss more often these days. But I think remuneration still reigns supreme.
How can you avoid reaching deep in your pocket to keep top talent from exiting your business? When you find a high-potential employee, consider offering them shares.

Do PR & social media

Find your stars from your fan base. Businesses that stay top-of-mind attract a better crop of candidates. Talk about your involvement in the community, the charities you support, and your passion for the industry. Reveal a corner of your world that people don’t usually see. People love to go “behind the scenes.”
Nurture a fan base by distributing press releases, posting tweets, sharing photos and videos, and publishing thought leadership content, like your best practices.

Work your network

The jury is out on whether businesses get better quality through referral than advertising in the open market. So, do both.
If you manage a database of referrals or past candidates and have the required opt-in, a well-designed email communication generates leads because it can be easily passed along through people’s business networks. Include a solid job description and desired profile information.
Looking for some HR help? Try Dynamics for Talent, part of Dynamics 365. Use it to automate HR tasks. Eliminate paperwork. Source candidates. Track applicants. Retain top talent. And more!

Link in more

LinkedIn, the professional business network, has replaced many job search websites as the work portal du jour. However, traditional job search websites—like Monster, Workopolis, Indeed, and Emploi-Quebec—remain popular.
LinkedIn enables your business to gain followers, to grow a network of fans, and you can do it all yourself free. Eureka! Connect with potential hires and build a relationship with candidates before you hire them.
You can also try a paid service like LinkedIn Premium, which allows you to avoid the cost of recruitment agencies while still outsourcing the task of finding qualified candidates.
LinkedIn tip: Open a Recruiter account and sort through potential candidates to your heart’s content.

Ask around

As the lowest cost option, word-of-mouth still reigns supreme. But remember, talk is cheap. Should a viable candidate present themselves, referred by a friend of a friend’s co-worker for example, they will still need vetting and will expect you to provide them with a competitive level of compensation.

Engage recruiters

If you can’t spare the time and resources to conduct your own search, you can always work with a recruitment agency. This option can yield excellent results but comes with higher costs. Most recruitment agencies accept flat fees or a percentage of the annual salary of the position.
Buyer beware. Once you decide to move forward with a candidate represented by a recruiter, verify references before making your final decision.

Sell your culture

Like advertising your product and services, you should advertise your business culture to attract top talent. You can talk about your on-boarding experience, your mentoring approach, and stories of employee greatness, like the unlikely sales person who hit a home run and landed a big account.
Shared values attract like-minded people and help keep them together. Make sure you talk about what you believe in.
Don’t just talk about it. Draw from your business experiences to humanize your social media feed. Remember: the social side of the business is a deal-closer for top talent. And why not? We spend two thirds of our life working with people. Isn’t it better if it’s with people you like?


Publish a blog, email a newsletter, tweet announcements, or just talk to your customers. Discuss your industry and your role in it. Focus on what makes you different. Celebrate ways that you bring value. Remember: if you don’t talk about your culture, how’s anyone ever supposed to know?

Work your website & communicate

  • Ensure that there’s a clear path to inquiries for candidates looking for employment opportunities.
  • If your website accepts job applications, remember to thank candidates for taking the time to submit their interest in the position.
  • Include the contact info of the person they can follow up with and the turnaround time for a decision.
  • Always follow up

After shortlisting candidates, call them. Have a list of questions ready (no more than four). If a candidate impresses you, book the in-person interview while you have them on the phone. If not, thank them for their time and promise to keep them informed. Flag these candidates in your CRM and stay in touch.
Always act professionally and remember the golden rule. If you expect a courtesy call, so do they. Follow through. No one likes to be left hanging. Just a bit of time and energy can keep someone from souring on you and your business.
Bonus tip: On-board properly
Too often, new employees get left alone to sort through the former employee’s files to find their way. In fact, that scattered approach can breed mistrust from the beginning. Not sure what to do? Ask your colleagues to help you define what your on-boarding experience should be. If your business already has an HR person, task them to design an experience appropriate for your brand and budget.
Get the ebook
From IT leads to marketers, collaboration styles span a wide spectrum. It’s important to deploy a collaboration solution that’s as adaptive as it is inclusive. Read the “5 Faces of Today’s Employees” ebook to find out more. (Requires registration) Link here.
This article is part of a series written by Microsoft in partnership with Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada.

About WeBC

WeBC is a non-profit organization devoted to helping BC women launch, lead and scale their own businesses. Our full range of services includes business loans up to $150K, business advice, skills training, mentoring, resources and a supportive community to help women entrepreneurs realize their business potential. Connect with us today for personalized support for your business!

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