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5 Tips for Making Your Business a More Desirable (and Competitive!) Employer

It’s a tight labor market out there. With 10 million job openings and an unemployment rate of 3.8%, businesses of all kinds are having to work hard to recruit and retain employees. It’s not enough anymore to post an opening on LinkedIn and wait for the resumes to roll in. Here are five things you can do to make your business more attractive in today’s market.

1. Create an “Employer Brand”

Every successful business should be able to define their brand: the often intangible qualities that set them apart from their competitors. But whereas a brand is generally customer-oriented, an employer brand is oriented toward job seekers.

Even though your employer brand is applicant-oriented rather than customer-oriented, develop it in the same ways you developed your business brand. Think about the kinds of applicants you want to attract. How can you meet their needs? Is your business a fun place to work, with a dog and a mini-fridge? Or is it a fast-paced, results-oriented workplace for driven and competitive workers? Is it a collaborative work environment, or is the position best for an independent worker? Looking at the bigger picture, what does your business stand for? Are you an active member of the community? Do you make charitable donations and offer volunteering opportunities for your employees?

Whatever your employer brand is, it has to be authentic. Don’t sell applicants an image you can’t deliver in an effort to bring in as many applicants as possible. It may seem counterintuitive, but the more specific your employer brand is, the more applicants you should be able to attract because yours won’t be just another listing on LinkedIn.

2. Rely on Your Current Employees

Your best recruitment tool might just be your current employees. If they are having positive experiences at work, they are more likely to refer their friends. It all begins with creating an “employee-centered” workplace. In the teaching profession, much has been made of a “student-centered” approach to teaching over the past 15 years or so. A student-centered approach assumes that the teacher is there to help students develop intellectually and socially, overturning the old idea that students are there to simply behave and do the work given to them. The students aren’t there to perform for the teacher; the teacher is there to give each student what they need to succeed.

The same could be said about the relationship between employers and employees. By soliciting employee input, putting employees in situations that help them succeed, and creating a collaborative environment where everyone is valued, an employer can create an atmosphere in which employees are not just present but are active, motivated participants at work. These empowered employees will be more intrinsically motivated, and they’ll be more likely to have a positive opinion of your business.

These happy employees can also be trained as brand ambassadors. Take a few hours to train interested employees on a set of talking points that they can use to entice friends, family, and other contacts to apply for a position at your company. Even better, since you are creating an employee-centered workplace, would be to collaborate with your employees to define what makes your company attractive. You can then refine their input into a consistent message that they can then share with others. If they need further encouragement, try offering referral bonuses, as well.

3. Offer Flexibility—And Not Just for Remote Workers

Some office workers couldn’t wait to get back to the office, where they could both focus on work and socialize or collaborate with coworkers. For others, the pandemic spared them long commutes and stressful workplaces and gave them a chance to focus on work, and get more done, in a peaceful home environment.

Chances are, the candidates you interview will hold conflicting views on remote work. Some are going to want to come into the office, some are going to want to work from home, and others will prefer a hybrid approach. Whatever their preference, offer them the flexibility to choose the approach that works for them.

Flexibility isn’t just for remote workers. Employees have the power to quit a job they’re not happy with, so offering flexibility in scheduling and days off will give them an incentive to stay in the face of burnout, or help avoid burnout entirely.

4. Build Relationships With Local Universities

If you’re looking for entry-level talent, local colleges and universities are the places to go. Contact the university career center and ask them to list your job openings, and make sure to book a space at the school’s career fair. Individual departments will host job fairs for employers in fields relevant to their students. Many departments also partner with local businesses for internship opportunities. Reach out to the relevant department—say, the university’s business school, if you’re looking for salespeople, or the computer information technology department for IT people—to see if your business is right for an internship.

5. Present a Job Opportunity as a Stepping Stone

Face it: your best employees are going to leave sometime. Recognizing this fact from the outset might help you recruit talented, ambitious candidates. Sell the position with what it can do for the employee: let them know that they will gain valuable skills and experience that will help them land their next job, whether it’s with another business or a promotion within yours.

It’s a tough labor market out there, but using these tips will help you improve your recruiting strategy and get better results.