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Zilla Efrat
Business Journalist

Zilla Efrat is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 25 years writing on all facets of business and finance for print and online publications, and has been editor of Company Director, AB+F and Super Review

Zilla Efrat
Business Journalist

Zilla Efrat is a freelance journalist who has spent the past 25 years writing on all facets of business and finance for print and online publications, and has been editor of Company Director, AB+F and Super Review

At the heart of any small business is the staff. By applying some discipline and the right tools, you can give yourself the best chance of scoring the cream of the crop.

a man and a woman sit on opposite ends of a couch, writing and using a smartphone

Understand what you want

Many small businesses don’t spend enough time clearly understanding the role and kind of person they want, says SEEK’s executive search manager Sarah Beck.

Her advice is to consider what, if you looked back in 12 months’ time, would have made the search a successful exercise and what you'd want the successful applicant to achieve in that time. And then be crystal clear on what type of background, skills and other factors are needed to attain this.

“That informs the advertising process and your subsequent talent search,” says Beck.

Communicate well

“It’s vital to communicate the role requirements in a way that is going to get people’s attention,” says Beck.

“The use of language is really important. There are some key action words you can use to really bring to life what the requirements are. But writing is a skill.

“Researching how to write a great job advert is well worth the investment and currently, there’s some great information on SEEK’s website on this.”

So think about your audience when you’re writing – the tone you use to describe a tradesperson will be different to how you advertise for a creative role in an advertising agency.

Widen your talent pool

LinkedIn’s Australia New Zealand Talent Trends Report for 2015 reveals that 30 per cent of people in the workforce are presently proactively looking for roles.

“Our statistics [also] show that 75 per cent of passive candidates would be willing to consider a new opportunity if it was the right opportunity,” says Jason Laufer, director of talent solutions, Australia and New Zealand, at Linkedin.

Market your talent brand

Laufer says 77 per cent of Australian employers believe their talent brand (how appealing your business is to potential employees) has a significant impact on their ability to hire great talent. But for small businesses this rises to 81 per cent because most don’t have the known brands that large businesses have.

“Talent brand is just as important as having the right job description out there,” he says.

Laufer believes small businesses can promote advantages like flexible work arrangements, work-life balance and the ability to offer a broader job responsibility.

“Quite often we hear from small businesses that they attract talent because roles are not as defined as they are in large businesses. Candidates can get a broader perspective on how a business is run.”

He recommends using sponsored updates and career pages on LinkedIn.

“A career page allows you to add flavour to who you are. It’s a rich multi-media platform which helps you go out and source passive candidates, then lead them straight back to that career page, which details who you are.”

Amplify your reach

Laufer says there is a 72 per cent likelihood that someone will apply for a role if they know someone at your workplace or if you do business with them.

“So it’s important to reach through your employees’ networks to widen your candidate search,” he advises.

“If you are a small business with, say, 40 employees, you will probably find that among them, they may collectively have 4,000 connections.

“Employees can promote your brand, for example, by listing their education, achievements, interests, charities they support and so on, and by using rich media featuring their work. Through this, their connections can see the professionalism, fun or whatever it is you are trying to promote.

“A lot of small businesses make the mistake of believing that their personal networks are enough, but using a network such as LinkedIn, where you have 380 million people globally and seven million in Australia, you get access to such a significant candidate pool.”

The right tools for the job

Seek's talent search:

SEEK’s Talent Search enables you to access a pool of candidates you may not have been aware of if you just posted a job advert online. It attempts to predict the career intentions and likeliness of candidates to switch roles which, combined with their working history, can assist to give you an accurate view of who is best suited for a role.

Linkedin recruiter:

This tool provides algorithm-based suggestions of prospects who might be a fit for your role or company and allows you to follow people as soon as they update their LinkedIn profile indicating a change to a skill or role so that you can engage them in a timely way. It also has the ability to send targeted and personalised messages to nurture prospects and it provides visibility into how you are connected to the candidate to easily gauge candidate “fit”.

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