Your Essential Guide to Small Business Recruitment Marketing (Part One): Know Your Audience

Small Business Recruitment MarketingLooking to hire? Businesses need quality talent to grow, but those people aren’t always easy to find. In today’s super-connected online recruiting environment, you’re not just competing with other similar businesses in your area. You also have to worry about large national brands who can afford to spend more money on advertising and branding.

But does that mean you don’t have a chance at the top players in your field? Do all the talented workers go to Google, while everyone else gets the leftovers?

Not at all.

Small businesses have plenty of valuable tools and effective strategies available to them that can level the playing field.

And you won’t have to part with six months’ profit to get it done.

Who Are You Recruiting?

Recruiting isn’t a one-time job ad. It’s a long game that takes strategy and effort—but it’s worth it. This series will look at four essential steps to developing your small business recruiting strategy.

In this post, we’ll focus on the first of those four steps: knowing your audience.

Yes, you’re competing with everybody from Bob down the street to Mark Zuckerberg for the same candidates. Sort of. In reality, though, most candidates are looking for something specific in a company. Not everyone wants to be a cog in a giant corporate machine. 

Learn What Makes Your Ideal Candidate Tick

As you think about the people you want to hire, ask yourself what kind of person would want to come work for a business like yours. You may not be able to offer the highest salary, but there are other benefits people want, such as:

  • Fabulous culture
  • A family-oriented environment
  • Opportunities for professional development
  • Mentorships
  • A great manager
  • Interesting work
  • Social or environmental investment

Up-and-coming millennials in particular rate compensation as less important than things like opportunities to grow, quality managers, interesting work, and advancement potential when it comes to choosing a job.

Develop Candidate Personas

The bottom line is that your small business recruiting efforts will be most successful when you aim them at the right audience. One of the best ways to do that is to develop candidate personas so that your job titles, descriptions, and posts will appeal to the people most likely to make a good fit for your business. Here's how:

  • Dig Deep. Candidate personas give you a close look at specific segments of your target audience. They dig deeper than a demographics sketch by evaluating your candidate’s interests, goals, successes, challenges, hobbies, and other personal details. This information will direct the kinds of content you produce for that segment.
  • Gather data. Where do you find all that information? Start by talking with your top performers. What common elements do they share in terms of experience, background, and career choices? Next, look at your hiring data. Where do your top performers come from and how do you find them? Finally, reach out to people in your network who may be able to offer insight about the hiring landscape.
  • Document your research. Gather all your data under the headings which will become your personas. Give each persona a name to help you think of them as real people, and be as detailed as possible. For example:

Techie Teresa

Gender: Female

Age: 37

Background: Degree in computer science with a coding focus

Goals: To develop skills in specific coding languages and work on projects she finds interesting. Would like to gain experience in program design.

Interests: Enjoys talking shop with her techie friends, learning more about her field, and getting outdoors after work.

Challenges: Often has to work on projects she doesn’t enjoy with little opportunity to offer input. Hasn’t been able to find a position where her talent is used to greatest potential.

When done well, candidate personas serve as a window into the minds of your target audience. And that's extremely valuable as you prepare for Step Two: Planning Your Strategy. 

Invest in Your Recruitment Marketing Strategy

Recruitment marketing doesn’t have to make you go broke, but it will require an investment of time and resources. If you need help, consider partnering with a PEO that can help you plan and execute your recruiting strategy.

In Part Two of our small business recruitment marketing series, we’ll take a look at the four pillars of a successful, cost-effective recruitment marketing strategy for small businesses.

Need help finding a PEO? Take our brief survey to find a PEO that meets your unique business needs!


About the Author: Susan McClure is our resident content marketer at She writes about HR outsourcing, HRIS, and general employment issues. When she isn't writing, you might find her browsing shelves at the library, exploring a local hiking trail, or digging in the garden with her family and fur kids.