CXO

How SMBs can compete against enterprises for tech talent: 5 tips

SMBs face many challenges drawing developers and engineers away from the Googles of the world. Here's how they can make their advantages clear during the hiring process.

The ongoing war for tech talent often has left many SMBs and startups to compete with major enterprises for developers, engineers, and other specialized technical positions. While this may be intimidating, SMBs can offer job candidates a number of benefits that large corporations cannot, and must make those advantages clear during the hiring process.

For any organization looking for talent, the major challenges are whether people know you exist, and whether you are able to articulate why it is an interesting place to work, more so than size alone, said Claire Alexander, general manager of Capterra.

"Smaller companies really benefit from the notion of potentially being the next big company," Alexander said. Many tech job candidates are excited to potentially be involved in a tech growth story, and to have a relatively close-knit worker community compared to a larger company. There are also more opportunities to learn quickly in those situations, compared to a more bureaucratic environment, Alexander said.

SEE: IT Hiring Kit: Programmer (Tech Pro Research)

"People want to be known, and to feel like they're having an impact, and that can differentiate you from the big guys," Alexander said.

Here are five tips to help SMBs in the war for tech talent.

1. Manage expectations

For smaller companies, tech hiring is all about expectations, said Stephanie Wernick Barker, chief revenue officer of recruiting firm Mondo. "They either need to hire high and invest in high-level, expensive talent," she said. "If that's not an option due to budget constraints, go low and sacrifice on skills initially by hiring more entry-level experts that can be trained and developed for the role."

Another option is to hire high-level talent on a freelance or contract basis, to get those workers in for fewer hours, Wernick Barker said. This may be the best strategy for competing against larger brands, since more niche tech talent is turning to consulting, she added.

"The key is to do the research and realize the current state of the market and the benefits having an established name provide when it comes to recruiting top talent," Wernick Barker said. "Understanding what SMBs are up against when competing with larger names will help them identify the best hiring strategy for their needs."

2. Tighten the hiring process

"If you can't rely on an employer brand like Google—which is most of us—focus on creating a decisive interview process that doesn't have any redundancies," said Kitty Brandtner, director of major of accounts at tech recruiting firm LaSalle Network. "Given the tight labor market we're in, interview processes need to be quick and efficient, and make sure everyone involved in the process is aligned and on the same page."

Tech talent appreciates when companies know what they are looking for in a job candidate, Brandtner said. "When companies drag their feet or have an absurd amount of interview rounds to go through, candidates will pull themselves out of the process, or simply take another job," she added.

SEE: IT jobs 2018: Hiring priorities, growth areas, and strategies to fill open roles (Tech Pro Research)

3. Consider remote workers

If the responsibilities of a role don't require the person to be in the office, SMBs should consider making that role remote to some degree, Brandtner said. "Talent is looking for flexibility, so promote a work-from-home option in the job description whenever possible," she said. "You'll widen the candidate pool significantly as a result."

4. Get involved locally

"If you're in tech and you're a small company, it's potentially not that hard to attract talent if you have a pipeline, if people know you," Alexander said. "The hardest thing for small companies to attract talent is just being known by the employable population coming straight out of school."

SMBs can strengthen their brand by getting involved in local tech associations or meetups, whether its hosting or attending them, Brandtner said. "It's a great way to meet candidates and get your brand name out there with the ability to tell your brand's story," she added. "The more you attend, the more your company name will be in front of the candidate pool. Repetition is key and is what will make your brand stick."

5. Offer the latest tools and education

If you can't offer the high salary that a larger company may be able to, be sure you have the latest software or technology tools for your workers, Brandtner said. Another option is to pay for a certification or class for them to learn or brush up on a skill.

istock-692292412.jpg
Image: iStockphoto/jacoblund

About Alison DeNisco Rayome

Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox