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Hiring challenges in smaller companies – how to combat?


Siddharth Sethi

December 09, 2007

One of the key challenges that a smaller software development company faces is in hiring.

Whenever we go out there in the market, there is always a difficulty in getting new resources on board. In this post, I would like to reflect on our company’s experiences in attracting talent.

The key challenge that we face at InfoBeans is that our competition when it comes to hiring is the competition with the larger name brand companies and the fact that we are in a smaller town. My analysis will keep these two factors in mind.

Company Culture

Get the company culture right. This is the first and foremost thing that the top management and pretty much the entire organization has to set right. The current team members (our employees are not employees, they are team members) are your best advertisements in the market. They are the ones who will bring in their friends, get your HR folks more referrals and tell their friend if NOT TO JOIN. Create a great atmosphere for your team and they will reciprocate. After all they would be more than happy to work with their friends and family members.

At InfoBeans, I am proud to say that our team is the first set of people we go to whenever we want to hire new resources and they respond overwhelmingly. It is an open policy at our company that we are actively looking for people that are acquiantances of our team members.

Make the organization the first place the team member wants to go in the morning. Even if that means coming to work for exercise.

Involve the team member’s family

We invite our prospective team member’s family to come and take a look and talk to us regarding what the future holds for the family as a whole in the organization. This makes them feel at home as well. After all, it is easier to decide when you have actually met people and seen the work space. This has produced extra ordinary results specially when a prospective team member decides between many smaller companies. After we do not have a brand value as high as the larger companies.

The Compensation Package

It cannot be less than the market. Period. In today’s day and age, it has to be more than the competition – especially the larger ones you are competing against. Don’t crib, it is much lower than the billing rate, and you cannot continue living to ignore it. Save money elsewhere. Splurge here.

The Benefits Package

You have to provide a benefits package. Cannot shy away from it. There are times when obviously you cannot compete with the bigger ones on an eloborate gym or a cafetaria, but you can find out middles ways where you can provide these benefits outsourced. Definitely get them on to a family health insurance plan. They will love that, specially if the prospect is married and is single. Then go search for establishments who would treat the Team Member’s ID card as a priviledge card – restaurants, coffee shops, retail outlets etc. All go towards enhancing your brand image as an employer.

Maintain a strong Alumni Bond

Keep in touch with the team that has left you for greener pastures. Do not severe ties and do not keep an ego. These are the people that have worked for you and would always have a soft corner in the heart. They will probably never speak negatively about you, specially if they have worked with the organization for a longer duration. They moved on, but the relationship can prosper. At InfoBeans, we have made a concious effort to make sure that all our team, who have left are still on the Yahoo IM added somewhere.

Newspaper and other expensive ads will take you nowhere

They are a criminal waste of money if considered purely from an HR point of view and from a marketing viewpoint, an expensive branding exercise.

Folks this is the bottomline –

You have to start thinking like a big employer but implementing all those things within your constraints.

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