How SMEs can gain the edge when it comes to recruitment

Good news this week in the form of the latest Job Index from recruitment firm Reed–which shows the UK jobs market continued to grow in March. It’s been a pretty good quarter all round – with overall nine per cent more job opportunities on offer than in the final three months of 2012 and a significant majority of sectors (81 per cent) now stronger than they were this time last year.

Recent research from McKinsey has shown that it’s a small but select group of SMEs who are driving a great deal of the job creation – and that bigger organisations could benefit from embracing some of the entrepreneurial practices that are driving their rapid growth.

The fast pace and vibrant culture that characterises these SMEs often gives them the edge when it comes to recruitment too. They may not be able to offer the same salary and benefits packages as a larger employer – but they certainly do have plenty to offer talented individuals looking to build their careers in a stimulating environment.

Of course not all SMEs have highly entrepreneurial cultures and when it comes to recruitment, there’s no point in positioning yourself as a rapidly growing, free-flowing business if you fall into the more traditional camp. But smaller businesses, by their very nature, can often offer candidates an experience they simply wouldn’t get in a larger organisation.

Here are five reasons why rising stars will be interested in working for your SME – and the key messages you might want to convey next time you’re looking for someone outstanding to join your team.

Faster pace

SMEs are typically much faster-moving than a lumbering, larger business. There are less bureaucratic hurdles to surmount and fewer people who have to have their say before a decision gets made. This means they are able to seize new opportunities and respond to changes in the market much quicker – making them an attractive proposition for an ambitious high-flyer.

Bigger impact

New recruits can start making an impact in an SME from day one. They are less likely to come across the “this is the way we do things around here” attitude that prevails in larger organisations and will generally find new insight is welcomed with open arms. The satisfaction of seeing a new idea put swiftly into practice counts for much with an enthusiastic employee who wants to make a difference.

The chance to multi-skill

People who work for SMEs often find they are required to step out of the confines of their job description and turn their hand to a variety of tasks. There’s often an “all hands on deck” culture when deadlines are approaching or at particularly busy times, which means employees get the chance to learn new things which not only add to their overall skill-set but also make for more varied and interesting times.

More opportunity for stretch

There’s typically more chance to get involved in stretch assignments in an SME. Smaller businesses don’t have the luxury of allowing people to build skills slowly over an extended period of time. They are more likely to get people involved in bigger tasks and to allocate more responsibility at an earlier stage. The opportunities for promotion in its conventional sense may be more limited, but the chance to build experience quickly and learn with support on the job is generally up for grabs for those who want it.

Entrepreneurial culture

SMEs can be pretty exciting places to be and the chance to get involved in a business that’s going places can be extremely appealing for talented individuals. They have the opportunity to exercise their own entrepreneurial flair and to play a significant part in the company’s development. There’s less chance that their creative and innovative ideas will be stifled and a real opportunity for them to grow alongside the business. Make sure you don’t convey this message about your culture, however, if it isn’t the case. Nothing will drive staff away faster than being sold one thing in an interview – only to find the reality on the ground is very different.

How have you attracted top talent to your business? Let us know what’s worked well for you.

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