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Owners of young businesses often wear multiple hats: sales associate, marketing director, customer service representative, and of course, human resources manager. This last role refers to the responsibility of finding the right employees. But before beginning their search, new business owners must first understand how to find employees without wasting money and time.

They can’t just post advertisements for open positions and expect qualified candidates to reply. Even if the ad draws attention, relevant experience does not always accompany the other required characteristics of an early small business employee.

For these reasons, the search for employees calls for additional measures and resources. You have to step outside of the box to attract candidates and determine the perfect fit. In this guide, we’ll go over the many unorthodox ways new business owners can find employees, both online and in-person. We’ll also explain how to use the most popular resources, and why certain entrepreneurs would choose one over the other.

How To Find Employees: General Recruitment Methods

You can’t start looking for employees if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. The nature of the position should give you an idea of the kind of person who can do the job well. Then, consider what makes your team and their working environment unique. Certain personalities may find these conditions particularly uncomfortable or take longer than necessary to adapt.

Once you’ve nailed down your target candidate, think of the circumstances affecting the search process. You should have an estimated timeline to fill the position, as well as a budget for the aforementioned resources. This timeline will likely come down to how much of your own time you can afford to spend searching for and interviewing candidates. The same goes for the current employees involved in each phase.

Laying out this information and staying as organized as possible greatly increases the likelihood of success. You won’t worry as much about compromising your other daily responsibilities, largely because there’s little chance of wasting time on the wrong people.

Once you’ve prepared yourself for what lies ahead, you can shift your focus to the following networking tactics:

How To Find Employees: Where To Look, What To Use

You may have heard entrepreneurs compare learning how to find employees to learning how to market your business. This makes sense because, just like marketing, what works fabulously for one business could achieve the complete opposite result for another. And it’s not so much about the tool you use but how you use it. Luckily, there’s only three major tools, or general recruitment methods, to choose from. You’ll feel a lot more confident if you use all three.

So, before delving into specific tactics, let’s reiterate the general recruitment methods that will guide this process:

Online Posting

It often seems like another job posting website becomes massively popular every day. Many entrepreneurs prefer the more familiar and proven options, while others prefer those only known in their industry. Examples of the former include Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn or Craigslist. Facebook has become an increasingly useful recruiting site as well. Wouldn’t you like to see if your giant list of friends could actually come in handy?

Depending on your needs, however, you might want to try the more specified options. When searching for freelance workers, for example, you should explore Upwork or Flexjobs. Nearly every industry also has its own job site, especially tech-oriented industries like marketing, graphic design, or media.

Budget definitely plays a role when choosing how to find employees online. Though most websites don’t charge anything for job postings, some have costs for certain amounts of posts, or keeping posts active for certain lengths of time. Research these costs before posting on any websites and make sure you only pay for websites or services you absolutely need.

Referrals

The entrepreneurs that have the hardest time figuring out how to find employees tend to struggle with asking for help. Otherwise, you wouldn’t see so many articles emphasizing the effectiveness of referrals. To some, it seems like common sense: when seeking new employees, why wouldn’t you ask virtually everyone you know for help? But for others, admitting that you need help at all feels like admitting weakness.

Well, if this sounds like you, it’s time to swallow your pride and ask your employees, friends, and relatives if they know anyone who could fill the open position. Everyone has their own network, which almost always features at least one young adult looking for work. Referrals have proven so effective for some businesses that they now offer bonuses for employees who bring in new candidates.

Online/In Person Networking

Despite its various interpretations, the term “networking” simply means making an extra effort to talk to as many potential candidates as possible. In other words, you essentially initiate conversations even though you have no idea if the individual has any interest in the position. These conversations could take place online or in-person, and yes, this implies literally talking to strangers.

While old fashioned networking might appear counterproductive, it continues to fill positions from all sorts of industries. After all, countless success stories began with random encounters in the least likely of places. Networking can also give you valuable experience in pitching your company and explaining the position. So, you should at least try to put yourself out there and see how people respond to your offers.

How To Find Employees: 12 Proven Strategies

Now that we’ve established the general strategies for how to find employees, we can move on to specific ways to use them to your advantage. Without this knowledge, you won’t get the full value of social networks, face-to-face interactions, job posting websites, etc. The following strategies have proven successful for myriad entrepreneurs, though the one that works best for you will likely depend on the kind of personality you have in mind.

Always Have Your Business Card on You

Entrepreneurs talk business everywhere they go. They pitch their companies to any new acquaintance who fits their target audience, partially because business cards make it much easier for these new acquaintances to remember and contact them.

Always having your business card on-hand will also make you more likely to pitch your company to potential job candidates. You never know where you’re going to run into someone who possesses the qualities you’re after. Think about it: How many times have you been pleasantly surprised by an individual’s dedication to his or her job?

The service industry, for example, often requires vital skills like multi-tasking, staying calm under pressure, and up-selling. Does this sound like your desired employee? If so, don’t ever go out to eat without your business card on you.

See How Prospects Respond to Conversation

Entrepreneurs often preach about basing hiring decisions on attitude, as opposed to industry experience. Anyone can learn about your business’s fundamentals, but you can’t teach general affability with strangers. We previously alluded to the scenario of observing these qualities in people you encounter in mundane environments, like the hair salon or coffee shop. You might suspect, however, that this person can only maintain the right attitude in short interactions, or only during pleasant exchanges.

How can you tell for sure?

Before whipping out your business card, see how this person responds to an elongated conversation. Someone who truly understands the value of customer service will not appear annoyed or caught off guard. But you’ll only see these talents on display when you actively look for them. Thus, you might want to express more openness to these exchanges as you go about your life. If someone doesn’t pass the test, just move on to the next possible candidate.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask, No Matter Where You Are

When searching for employees, you must take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself. This means engaging with anyone who piques your interest, regardless of the environment. Some people might hesitate to bring up their businesses during genuine conversation. “I just met this person,” you might think. “I don’t want to create awkwardness or sound sleazy.”

Yes, it’s incredibly uncomfortable, but you cannot adhere to this logic when an opportunity comes your way. Let’s say you meet someone on vacation and quickly discern that this person has all the characteristics of your desired employee. As much as you’d love to continue having fun, it’s time to talk business. Don’t think twice before telling this person about your company, asking for contact information, and of course, whipping out that business card.

In sum, you should probably go with your gut when you meet someone who has what you need. This will likely happen again and again throughout your career, so you might as well learn how to recognize these opportunities early on.

Tell Employees What Kind of People to Refer

Employee referrals will only achieve the desired result if you tell your employees exactly what to look for. You can’t just ask your employees to refer anyone who can work hard, communicate effectively, etc. They need specific criteria and an understanding of the position’s responsibilities. This information will make your employees much less hesitant to refer their friends. It’s safe to say that most people wouldn’t tell their friends about an opportunity if they weren’t 100% sure this person could do the job well.

Contact Local Universities

Recent college graduates don’t waste time capitalizing on entry-level opportunities. Rather than browsing job websites, however, they prefer to take the first offer that seems exciting and different.

For example, lots of students find jobs through their professors. Thus, you could contact professors at local colleges and ask them to tell their classes about the open position. The school’s employee directory will tell you which professors teach the courses that bear the most relevance to your industry.

If you live or work near one such university, you could also print out flyers and post them in crowded buildings. Much like Facebook’s job boards, people like seeing companies make the effort to attract their attention.

How To Find Employees: Online Tips

The following strategies pertain to online job postings on websites and social networks:

Use LinkedIn’s Search and InMail Capabilities

LinkedIn allows you to search keywords associated with the open position. The results will show LinkedIn users who included that keyword in their work history or executive summary. For example, if the position involves writing ad copy, you could search those terms and see which users mentioned them most frequently in their LinkedIn profiles.

With LinkedIn Premium, you can use the network’s InMail service to contact people you have not already connected with. Candidates will likely respond better to InMail than standard email, primarily because the user can clearly see that you’ve done your research.

Don’t Rule Out Social Networks Without Trying

Since you don’t have much experience with online job postings, it’s difficult to decide which website or social network has the highest likelihood of success. For this reason, you might as well try your luck with each of the most popular options. Some of these might not have the best reputations with your industry, but that doesn’t mean you should count them out completely.

New entrepreneurs often make the mistake of creating one job ad and posting it on several websites or networks. They forget that each option has its own format and style. What looks good on Indeed might not work for Facebook or LinkedIn. You’ll only have to make minor changes at most, but it’s crucial to do this for every ad you post. If you tailor your ad correctly and it still fails to gain traction, then you can consider leaving this option behind and shifting your focus elsewhere.

Choose Social Networks That Occupy The Most Attention

New entrepreneurs typically search for young employees. Different types of young adults favor different social networks, like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn. So, before focusing on one specific network, figure out which one draws the most attention from the kind of individual you have in mind. You can then use this network to connect with potential candidates. On Instagram, for example, you can send candidates direct messages.

But you must also build up your presence on the network as you scout for talent. You’ll get more responses if it’s abundantly clear that your company’s page reflects your culture and explains what makes your company unique. Many businesses have reportedly found success using social networks to fill creative roles, like content development, along with entry-level roles, like executive assistants.

Use Reddit To Find Serious Prospects

One of our previous sections alluded to the appeal of different social networks for different types of young adults. When searching for creative IT (information technology) professionals, you might want to try Reddit. This network features subreddits, or forums, centered around job opportunities in major cities. Reddit users (or “Redditors”) also tend to take their passions very seriously.

This suggests that anyone browsing jobs on Reddit likely has every intention of pursuing them. In general, people usually choose to post on Reddit (as opposed to another network) because they want real responses, not just “likes” or shares.

Use Facebook’s Job Boards

After researching your target audience, you may conclude that they spend more time on Facebook than any other social network. In this case, you should probably post your job on Facebook’s local job boards, many of which have massive amounts of followers.

These followers will then see the job posting on their news feeds. This shows them that instead of expecting users to contact you, you went the extra mile and made sure your post reached them. The number of followers significantly increases the likelihood of responses. Also, remember to include links to your company’s website or application page in each job posting. People prefer seamless application processes that don’t involve clicking through several pages of the company’s website.

To maximize exposure and the chances of referrals, share the posting on your own news feed as well.

Showcase Your Company Culture in Job Postings

Different personalities thrive at different companies. Your new candidate’s attitude must mesh well with the rest of the team, so you have to display this attitude in your job posting. Rather than listing the desired traits, you might find more success with implying them through the posting’s language.

In other words, put yourself in your desired employee’s shoes. What kind of language would make this position seem right for your personality? Which personal traits make you so great at what you do?

Using generic language, like “Content Writer Needed,” won’t allow your ad to stand out. In order to succeed at your company, this person needs to have more than just relevant work experience. It also helps to use highly specific and unique words, as opposed to “energetic,” “obsessive,” “motivated,” etc. Do you really expect someone looking for work to say, “No, I don’t want to work hard. I guess that’s not for me.”

Offer Perks Your Employees Will Take Full Advantage Of

Seemingly minor perks can do wonders for your recruitment efforts. You just have to choose perks your employees will most likely take full advantage of. Common examples include the ability to work from home on occasion, free gourmet coffee, gym memberships, or free Spotify premium accounts.

The increasing popularity of shared workspaces like WeWork stems largely from the numerous perks they offer. Their large kitchen areas, for example, feature tables and booths for employees who prefer privacy and open space instead of the traditional office.

How To Find Employees: Try Everything!

To summarize, recruiting differs tremendously from other business-related endeavors in that there’s no harm in trying every potentially successful strategy. You simply cannot rule anything out until you’ve put it to work. And yes, different types of employees will likely require different recruitment strategies.

Still, the process of building your initial team will provide numerous valuable lessons about recruitment in general. You’ll apply this knowledge every time you search for new employees moving forward. For this reason, certain tactics that work this time around will continue to work time and time again. With the right mix of proven strategies and adjustments, no type of employee is out of reach.

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