It can be challenging in any job market for small businesses to compete for talent with bigger companies. But when it’s as tight as it is today it can be especially daunting, so small businesses need to be where the talent is and differentiate themselves from competitors.  


A recent survey of small business owners by LinkedIn Talent Solutions found that very few small businesses now rely on offline recruitment like print job advertisements and career fairs—only four percent still do.  Online efforts lead the way in small business hiring, used by 64 percent of those surveyed, with nearly 50 percent saying they hired successfully using online sources.

The job search is also mobile now, with nearly 30 percent of Americans searching for a job on their smartphone, according to a study by Pew last year. More than half of 18-29 year olds use smartphones in one way or another as part of a job search. It’s crucial, in a tight job market or not, to make sure your website–and in fact your entire digital presence–is drawing talent to you and sending out the message that your company is a great place to work.

Here are four ways to make sure your digital footprint is attracting talent:


In other words, be mobile-friendly. If your website has not yet been mobile optimized, it should be. That means your website is easy to see and navigate on smaller screens.  About one in four searches (for everything from jobs to rain boots to the nearest Jiffy Lube) is done on a mobile device, so your site needs to be easily accessible to mobile users.

Mobile-friendly websites also rank higher in Google—in 2015 it announced that non-mobile web pages would be penalized during mobile searches (meaning they will not come up high in search results). The goal, ultimately, is to make sure your website visitors are able to achieve their objectives. If they want to read your blog, check your reviews, or apply for an open position, their experience should require the fewest interactions possible. Google recommends using something called responsive web design, or RWD, which allows your website to adjust to the size screen on which it is being viewed.


Build a website that showcases your company culture.

You already know your website is the digital door to your business, but once that door is open, you have about 30 seconds to convince a potential candidate they want to be part of your team. Your website should convey not just your business brand but your employment brand. That’s done by clearly communicating the fundamental values and mission of your business. Visitors should get a sense of what it’s like to work for your business.

What do the offices look like? The people? What is the corporate environment (or lack thereof) like?

Sure, your company’s website needs to have nuts-and-bolts information like location, number of employees, executive bios and company history, but that doesn’t necessary showcase your culture. In addition include links to the company’s blog and social media pages. You might want to add a short video, perhaps a virtual tour of the offices, interviews with a few employees about what it’s been like for them to work at the company, footage of last Friday happy hour or a recent community service event.

Don’t be afraid to inject your business’s personality into your website.  It will help you stand out from the corporate giants and attract talent that is aligned to your mission and core values.

Create a careers page.

Believe it or not, many small business websites don’t have a career page or if they have one it’s buried, tacked on as an afterthought that essentially says: “Here are our open positions and here’s how you can apply for them.” That’s not a career page, that’s a job openings page.  It doesn’t communicate why someone would want to work for you.

Make your career page very easy to find and make it stand out from other small business career pages. For instance, instead of using stock photos (where the actors are dressed in neutral tones, having a great time in their sparkling offices), show your actual employees working hard and having a good time. Talk about career trajectories at your company, how long your current employees have been with you, their level of autonomy or the amount of teamwork required. You want someone coming to your careers page to be able to see themselves (or not see themselves) working for your organization.

Airbnb makes it easy for candidates to see themselves working there.

Make applying easy.

Job seekers, especially top candidates, are aware that the market is competitive and opportunities for their skills and experience are likely plentiful. If they like your company but the application process is complicated and has too many steps or you take too long to respond, they will simply put their energy elsewhere.

For instance, make sure your site provides an email autoresponder that an application has been received. You can use this thank-you moment as a chance to reinforce your employer brand. You might include a little more info about your company and links to things like examples of the firm’s work, photos, recent awards, customer reviews or press the company has received.

If you have an active company page on Linkedin, you can also post your openings there to attract talent.  That way, interested candidates can apply with just a click or two to instantly submit the information on their LinkedIn profile – helping you catch candidates immediately before they’re distracted by another opportunity.


Make sure you identify strong candidates early and communicate with those applicants regularly to let them know more about your business and how they may—or may not—fit in.