How To Compete With Corporate When Hiring For Your Small Business

Scaling / August 4, 2016 / Kristie

While small businesses may not be able to complete with the big salaries, benefit packages, and job security that comes with a corporate job, there are other ways small businesses can crush corporations when it comes to hiring.

small business vs corporate

Hiring really great people for your small business can seem difficult when you have a smaller pool of applicants. It may seem that all the “good ones” are taken or looking for high paying, secure corporate jobs. But there are many hardworking potential job candidates out there that are fuelled by more than just money.

Sure, you need enough money to pay the bills. But when comparing a job at a small business that pays average to a corporate job that pays more, there are many factors that can make the small business job more attractive to candidates.

Here are six ways you can compete with corporate jobs when trying to hire employees for your small business.


For individuals that crave a mentally stimulating job with like-minded, motivated individuals, culture plays a huge role in their decision when applying for jobs. Leverage the culture of your small business when writing job descriptions to attract amazing employees to your company.

What are the people like? What are they passionate about and trying to do for the world? What is the atmosphere of the company like? Do you take your team on outings or do things together that are really fun to build a strong bond between team members?

If you’re still working on building a great culture for your small business and want some additional ideas on how to go about it, read these 7 Ways to Cultivate Company Culture.

Employee appreciation

Small businesses easily crush corporations when it comes to showing employee appreciation and recognition. It’s easier to see the direct impact that an employee has on the company when working in a smaller team. Instead of being just another employee trying to climb the corporate ladder, they’re an instrumental part of the machine.

As a small business owner, you can leverage this by putting effort into letting each team member know they’re appreciated and that their role adds value to the company.

When writing a job description, highlight the impact that the job candidate will make on the company. Let them know how they’ll be directly contributing to the success of the company so they feel empowered.

Having more time with the leader(s) of the company can also be a perk because you can offer them mentorship on their growth path.

Fast paced environment

Small businesses are more agile and can make faster changes because there’s less people and levels of management to go through. For candidates that get bored easily, a small business is definitely more engaging.

If your small business is always experimenting and changing, leverage that when hiring people. Let candidates and potential candidates know that you take pride in adapting and listening to suggestions for change.

Team activities

Small businesses often have strong bonds between team members because there part of a smaller knit group. One of the common reasons people enjoy their jobs and stay at a company is because of the people. The more connected your team members feel to each other, the more connected they are to the company.

You can encourage this team-building mentality by organizing team lunches and activities. Let potential job candidates know that your company encourages a strong bond between employees and organizes team lunches and group outings is a nice perk for someone looking for a job where they feel valued and included.

Variety of learning experiences

When it comes to working for a small business, it’s often implied that everyone wears a lot of hats. You share jobs and tasks and get to learn multiple components of the business because you’re working in a smaller team than at a corporate job where people are generally trained for one specific area.

When writing  job description for an opening in your small business, highlight the diverse nature the role. Let candidates know that if they’re easily bored by jobs and looking for something stimulating with many opportunities for learning, you’re the place they’re looking for.

You can also encourage continued learning by offering to pay for in-class or online courses that your employees are interested in. It’s a win-win because they get to explore areas they’re interested in and you get a team of people that are constantly learning new things that can be applied to the job.

If you’re worried your employees will take the training and go elsewhere, think about how you’d feel if you were in a similar position. Wouldn’t you be more likely and eager to invest your efforts into a company willing to invest in you and your own personal growth? There’s a story I’ve heard many times where the CFO says, “What if we train them and they leave?” to which the CEO replies, “What if we don’t and they stay?”


Another way you can compete with corporate jobs when hiring people for your small business is by offering more flexibility. You can offer flexible hours and the option to work from home on certain days.

Having a job that fits a person’s lifestyle goes a long way. Offering flexible hours and working from home days shows you’re accommodating to your team and empowers them because it tells them that you trust them to get their work done. Instead of putting a focus on the hours they’ve worked, your focus shifts to the quality of work they do and the results they get.

When writing a job description for your small business, leverage all the things that make your business a fun and exciting place to work at. Don’t just say that it’s “fun and exciting”. Explain why. From the people to the environment, paint a picture of what it’s like to work for your small business and why people will love it. Let the personality of your business shine through.

Be sure to check out our Top 9 Tips for Hiring Amazing Employees when the resumes come flooding in.

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