Eight ways SMBs can recruit and retain top IT Talent

Event larger enterprises appear to have more lures for employees, there are also some very important perks that employees want that are more realizable in an SMB.

SMBs (small- and medium-sized businesses) often feel at a disadvantage when it comes to recruiting and retaining IT talent, because even in a slow market, companies of all sizes compete head-on for the best people.

Top performers are lured with great salaries, strong benefits packages, free health club memberships, company-sponsored daycare, substantial internal resources and training pools to draw from, both lateral and vertical career opportunities, and the advantage of a "name brand" enterprise on a resume if they ever decide to shop themselves on the outside again.

All of these elements seem to favor enterprises-but there are also some very important perks that employees want that are more realizable in an SMB.

Just what is the SMB "strong suit?"

#1 The work culture in smaller companies is more personalized.

Smaller staffs allow people to work together on a regular basis. This builds teamwork and camaraderie.

#2 Smaller companies can deliver a more holistic IT experience.

Years ago, I left a large enterprise for a much smaller company because I was pigeon-holed in an IT function and knew I would never get into application development-which was my aspiration. I got that experience-by moving to a smaller company.

#3 In a smaller company, you have the opportunity to work on more than one aspect of IT.

Getting a holistic IT experience was instrumental for me later in my career when I applied for a CIO job-and got it. Anyone aspiring to become a CIO must understand enough about each IT discipline to give overall IT direction. Large enterprises are highly compartmentalized. You may never see any other part of a large project besides the database schemas you continuously revise-and if you do the job too well, there is a tendency for management to keep you in that role because they know that you are dependable.

#4 Small companies can be great places for rapid technology implementations.

SMBs don't have the red tape and complications that larger ones do when it comes to trying and deploying new technologies. For IT'ers who wants to see rapid results from their work, working in an SMB can be highly satisfying.

#5 In a smaller company, you get a chance to learn the business.

Many IT'ers want to learn more about the business that they're developing technology for, but they never get the chance. Business experience is especially important today, with more companies seeking IT'ers with business savvy so they can translate IT into business solutions. The catch is: where do you get that exposure? Because of their more compact size, SMBs offer an easy way for IT'ers to gain business experience and to see first-hand how IT maps to the business.

#6 SMBs offer flexibility.

All companies have come a long way when it comes to allowing employees to work from home, or to have more flexible schedules when they need to accommodate outside situations. However, in a large enterprise, more rules and guidelines exist because there are so many employees that these rules have to be applied to. Because of this, flexibility is an area where SMBs have a tremendous advantage.

#7 Purpose and a sense of mission are easier to attain.

Since SMBs are smaller, they can give greater visibility of how IT fits into the "grand scheme" of the business. In contrast, this sense of mission and urgency can get lost in the shuffle in very large companies. Most employees want a sense of purpose from their work, and IT is no exception. SMBs are great places to find it in.

#8 The importance of good managers

The relationship between an employee and his or her immediate supervisor can make or break employment. Great managers and a welcoming company culture are areas where SMBs should invest heavily -because it can make or break your ability to find and retain the right people.


Mary E. Shacklett is president of Transworld Data, a technology research and market development firm. Prior to founding the company, Mary was Senior Vice President of Marketing and Technology at TCCU, Inc., a financial services firm; Vice President o...


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All of these elements seem to favor enterprises-but there are also some very important perks that employees want that are more realizable in an SMB. k:


Having worked for small and large companies, these points (and the negatives offered by other posters) can apply to a large or small company.  Unfortunately, what a large company always has more of, is money to offer you should they choose to do so


Another aspect that was missed is the idea of a big fish in a small to medium pond.


As someone who worked for a consulting company that dealt with large enterprises and then left to work now for a few years at an "SMB" the article isn't wrong, but its not correct either. For the most part I agree with the article on all of its points as I have experienced most of them, but the problem is that an article like this should also include the negatives. I also disagree with some of the posters on here about technology, we as a medium company are pretty up to date. We have been running VDI for over a year now and most of our technology is up to date, mostly. The reason here is a projects cost money but money grows with scale, not need.  Here is where I agree with you about your posts -- Money, time and resources. These three things are sporadic and few and far between. Is my schedule more flexible  -yes, can I afford to keep up all of my equipment correctly -- No.

So the article is correct in most ways, but there is a also a huge negativity working in the medium sized business especially when it comes to funding and resources to do things the right way. You also don't have much room for growth, no lateral movement. Decision making is also hindered in the SMB as decisions tend to be made by non-IT people and tend to be more "wants" then "needs" and money then is allocated to projects that do not benefit anyone, while some piece of important equipment (say a Core switch) doesn't get the attention or money it needs.


There are a couple of these points that I have to disagree with, #4 for instance: "Small companies can be great places for rapid technology implementations.". this can also be the opposite, often because the newest technology implementations are expensive and smaller companies can't afford it, whereas larger, enterprise level companies often have millions of budget dollars to spend on things. 

Also #6 (above), "SMBs offer flexibility." not always. At larger companies, you may be one of a team of several where someone could trade a shift (if need be) or work on what you're working on while you're out for the day or two, but at smaller companies, you might be a member of a team of two or three, and if you're not in the office that day, the team is let down. Not so flexible now, 


I really don't see it. Some of those benefits may not be so nice for everyone or may be disguised. e.g. "You can work on several areas of IT" translation> you will just do everything and anythig you are asked to. Ummm, that does not sound so nice now. You might install network wiring, upograde a server, develpop a website or train users. It might be good to have a broad experience, but you might not get tpo be an expert at anything either.

Others apply also to large companies. e.g. "Learn the business" There are some IT consulting jobs that are very very close to the business side. It even makesit necessary for the professional to know some of the business or goves him/her a competitive edge. Most others may apply to larger companies too.

Brian Godfrey
Brian Godfrey

Any article or thesis or book or anything else that lumps Small and Medium businesses together and talks about them as SMBs is naive' and probably of no use.  Small and Medium businesses are vastly different.  They do have similar needs but "corporate" organization and budgets are so radically different that virtually nothing you can say about procedures or solutions for one applies to the other.  Someone created a masters or doctors degree by stretching and inventing a lot of nonsense to justify the term SMB, but it was just BS to get a degree.  Please do not fall into the trap of believing it.

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