Attract top talent who prefer working for small companies. There are big company people and small company people -- your job is to find the ones that are naturally attracted to your environment. A sharp young woman recently told me that she and her friends made a pact after college that they would not "sell out" by working for big companies. Working for a big company can be terrific for the right person, but the fact is there are many people who prefer a smaller work environment. Actively promote the fact that you are "a small company that does big-time projects," or something similar. Don't try to hide the fact that you are small (it won't work anyway.) Instead, emphasize to candidates the clients whom you serve and the quality of the work that you do.
Let your company culture come through in your job postings. Typically, small companies have a more laid-back, less corporate work environment. If that is true for you, let that "un-corporate" attitude come through in your job postings as part of your recruiting strategy. For example, a client of mine in the kitchen and bath industry posted a job opening for a designer. In the ad, they described themselves as a company that designed "award-winning, high-end kitchens and baths while not taking ourselves too seriously." Then, they described their ideal candidate as follows:
"You know how to design kitchens and baths and are darn good at it. You can sell what you design (that seems obvious but you would be surprised.) You like people and they like you. You are a good problem solver and you can prove it. You care about where you work and the people you work with."
This is a great job description because it clearly describes the profile of this company's ideal candidate and does it in a non-reverent tone that captures their culture. You should strive for an appropriate tone in your postings on Monster. Be clear about what you want in job applicants while using the tone of your posting to attract people who will do well in your environment and culture.
Use the interview process to play up your work environment. I once referred a young salesperson to a client of mine as a job applicant. The salesperson worked for a big company. The President of the client company, a smaller franchisor, set up the interview himself. He arranged to meet the salesperson at a local coffee shop, and told him that he would be the guy "wearing shorts and riding a Harley." You can imagine how much that appealed to this 25-year-old. Here he was stuck working in a corporate bureaucracy while other people were running companies and riding their motorcycle to work. It was a powerful, non-verbal way for my client to communicate the advantages of his small-company culture.
This doesn't mean you have to head to your local motorcycle dealership (unless you want to). Use your own authentic, distinctive characteristics to appeal to applicants. Let them experience you and your company, and see who responds to your culture. The people who respond positively are likely the ones who will fit your company best.
Provide flexibility. The world is filled with people who are looking for flexible work arrangements. There are seasoned A-players in all professions -- salespeople, attorneys, CPAs, and consultants just to mention a few -- who would do anything for a job that lets them use their skills and still have a life outside of work. Design a role for these people, let everyone in your network know about it, and see if you get any A-player referrals. Remember that time and flexibility can be more important to people than working for a big company. If you design and promote different roles with this in mind, you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of people you can attract.
Pay and benefits. If you want to compete for A-player talent when making a job offer, you have to offer competitive pay and benefits. However, there is a difference between being in the ballpark and matching the benefits of the Fortune 500. Put the best plan that you can afford in place for compensation, health insurance, retirement, vacation, and associated areas. If a job candidate puts together a spreadsheet to compare your dental coverage to that of a Fortune 500 company, you likely won't be able to beat them. Don't worry about it; move on and find other people who are the right fit for your environment.
Hiring takeaway: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. For many A-players, small is beautiful. Work hard to find A-players. Actively promote the advantages of your smaller-company culture. Get creative about things like flexible work arrangements. Be competitive about benefits but don't worry about matching bigger companies in everything. Your job is to promote your advantages to a wide number of candidates so the people who prefer your kind of culture and work environment can step forward.