Job candidates sometimes overlook smaller companies and startups in Seattle, especially when the “little guys” are going toe-to-toe with big corporate brands such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Nordstrom.

Share story

Let’s face it: Name recognition matters.

Job candidates sometimes overlook smaller companies and startups in Seattle, especially when the “little guys” are going toe-to-toe with big corporate brands such as Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks and Nordstrom.

Further challenging those who recruit and hire for lower-profile organizations are the tech giants that are growing their local presence, such as Google, Facebook, Salesforce and Alibaba.

So how can recruiters compete for talent, often on much tighter budgets?

Most Read Stories

Unlimited Digital Access. $1 for 4 weeks.

Part of the solution lies in employer and recruitment branding, as well as reaching out to candidates. Here are some tips for competing with the big guns.

Tap your current employees for referrals.
Host a lunch (provide pizza — it is an astounding motivator) where you help your employees identify qualified candidates in their professional networks, in real life or on LinkedIn. Craft a message with them and show them how to share it with their networks. Remind them that referrals don’t have to be just about the people doing the same job they are; expand it to everyone who might either be interested or could help boost the signal with their own professional referrals.

Speaking of LinkedIn, a simple source of referrals are your company followers. Anyone who has an interest in your company might know someone else who is, too, or may even be excited about the chance to throw their résumé into the ring.

Network at industry and social events. This doesn’t just apply to you as the recruiter or hiring manager — find out where your executives are socializing with their peers, and remind them to take business cards and talk up the need for new talent. Reach out to local chapters of professional organizations for the types of roles you need to fill. See whether they have a job-posting board or email list — even if there is a charge, it is a direct pipeline to candidates whose profession and geography match your needs. Find local Meetup groups with interests that overlap the skill sets your position requires. There are hundreds of them in the Seattle area.

Use free or low-cost branding tools. Take advantage of Twitter, Facebook and your own LinkedIn page. Develop a hashtag for branding and use it liberally. Update your profiles at least weekly with things other than job postings: photos, press releases and product updates, for example. Show why your company is a great place to work.

Dig into your files. Look through your own historical records of candidates who have communicated, applied, interviewed or declined an offer in the past. That new graduate who just didn’t have enough experience three years ago might be interested in talking now. Or the candidate who declined your offer to go to a competitor might be ready to talk again. Don’t be afraid to ask for referrals from these folks, as well.

Make appealing job postings. Many candidates out there actually prefer the idea of working at a small company, where they will have a more direct impact on the business and customers/clients. Play this up in your job postings. Don’t have a boring block of marketing jargon and a long list of requirements. Candidates want to know what the team is like, what they will be working on, and what sets your company apart from others. A well-crafted job posting answers questions they don’t know need to be asked.