How to Market Your Business to Attract Top Talent

Present your company as an ideal employer to the types of workers you want to attract.

July/August 2016

Consumers aren’t the only ones doing their research before making initial contact with your business. Prospective employees do, too.

Whether a company has two or twenty employees, every personality type and skill set added to the team has a significant impact on the productivity, ability to innovate and growth of a business. The lower the employee headcount, the higher the stakes for every hire.

When searching for new talent, it is important to put out the right type of messaging and image to attract the right type of workers. Here are a few key considerations.

Figure Out Who You Are Looking For

Before you start searching for prospective workers, you have to determine what type of workers you want, starting with the first employee you hire.

“Hiring your first employee can be daunting, so it’s important to find someone who augments your own skill set,” says Jennifer Scott, vice president of talent acquisition and strategy at Sum Innovation. “If you’re really good at selling your vision and networking, and like the finance and numbers side less, then perhaps your first employee should be a bookkeeper or operations manager. If, you’re great at operational strategy and prefer to stay behind the scenes, then a sales-oriented person is the way to go.”

If your company has already hired a few workers, your own team can serve as invaluable resources for making your organization more appealing to additional hires.

“Start with an interview with your own ‘A-players,’” she says. “Find out what makes them tick, what they love about the company, what they would change about the company, and what attracted them to your company in the first place.” This effort will not only help you to get a clearer picture of the kind of workers you are looking to attract (i.e., those similar to the employees you currently view as your top performers), but also to learn where and how others like them are most likely to be reached.

For example, if you run a tech company and find that your sharpest programmers spend much of their off-hours on gaming sites that may be a good place to promote job openings. Scott gives the example of an HVAC company that bought a billboard ad above a major supply house frequented by qualified HVAC engineers.

Creating an effective employee brand has to go beyond just a job posting. Potential new hires will be evaluating your company, and what it stands for, from many different sources. Create a checklist of websites and sources where your potential employees may be looking for information about new career opportunities:

  • Glassdoor, where employees and former employees review their workplace
  • Job boards and search sites for specific industries, such as MediaBistro or Creative Circle
  • LinkedIn or Facebook Groups
  • Yelp
  • Your own website

Of course, you should tap your star employees to serve as recruiters of new talent as well. Provide current workers with incentives to bring others on board and ask them directly if they can think of any friends or acquaintances who might be good fits for the current team.

Determine Your Employee Value Proposition

Once you have this clear sense of who you want to attract, and where you can reach them, your next step is determining how to attract them. This does not mean salary or pay packages—as a small business, it’s tough to compete in purely monetary terms—but a broader set of benefits Scott dubs your “employee value proposition.”

“You are answering the question, ‘in return for working for us, here is what you are going to get,’” explains Scott. “If you offer work-life flexibility, and don’t care about specific hours or if an employee works from home, you’ll be an attractive employer for stay-at-home moms and dads whose kids are in school but have time during the day—people who want to do something with their time, but are scared to jump in to a full-time job.”

Other offerings that could be added to an employee value proposition include any skills workers will acquire or training they will receive (software programs, mechanical skills), work environment (friendly staff, working alongside experts), office location (close to a fun part of town, offers an easy commute), corporate culture (collaborative, focused on social responsibility), opportunities for advancement, and so on.

This employee value proposition should be placed front and center in any advertisements or promotions of the positions available.

Continue to Make a Good Impression

Once you have caught the eye of qualified candidates and they have applied to work for you, the marketing work is not yet done. From your first interaction and throughout the interview process, you should continue to present your company in a way that is most attractive to prospective employees.

“You want a candidate to love you even if they don’t get hired,” says Scott, pointing to employer review sites such as Glassdoor. Not only can poor reviews or bad word-of-mouth hurt your chances of attracting other qualified workers, it may hurt your business in other ways. “If your business is perceived as a bad place to work, you don’t just lose candidates, you could lose customers too. If you get a bad reputation, people may not buy your products or use your service.”

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