David vs Goliath: How SMBs Can Win the War for Talent

Tammy Cohen, PHR, SHRM-CP

February 17 2020

When it comes to the war for talent, people often say that small and mid-sized businesses are at a disadvantage. Large businesses tend to have more money, time, and resources to devote towards recruitment. Like the biblical Goliath, these corporations seem to be unbeatable when it comes to recruitment—every software engineer dreams of working for Google, right? But just like Goliath, it doesn’t take much to topple them in the war for talent. Here’s how your small or mid-sized business can gain the edge in the battle for qualified employees.

1. Utilize Referrals

 Your top employees are often the source of your next great hire. It may be a friend of theirs, an old colleague from college, or someone they met at a previous job. If you’re looking to fill a position, ask your current employees who they know that might excel in the role. You’ll be surprised how often this approach bears fruit. You never know who your employees might know.

Referrals shouldn’t be given preferential treatment over candidates found through other means, but already knowing someone within the company can be a bonus. Referrals also tend to be high-quality candidates, as employees understand their referrals reflect on them. As a result, your employees might be reticent to recommend someone who might not be a good fit for the role or your company.

A solid way to solicit referrals from your current talent pool is to add a referral bonus program as part of your small business hiring process. If an employee refers a candidate who is eventually hired, offer monetary compensation. It can be pricey, but research shows that the benefits outweigh the cost.

2. Know Your Strengths

There are obvious benefits to working with a large, well-known company, such as potentially higher salaries, brand-name recognition, and the occasional coffee store in the lobby. But small and mid-sized businesses bring more to the table than people realize. Take a critical look at your business and identify your recruitment strengths. For example, small businesses are often flexible in ways larger companies simply can’t be. This can be through allowing employees to work remotely on certain days or working with employees to create a schedule that fits their needs.

There are several other advantages you can use as selling points. Small businesses also tend to have more room for growth than a large business and a more diverse workload. In a role at a large company, employees can end up feeling like a cog in the machine. In a smaller business, it’s easier to create an engaged work environment. Identify your business’s strengths and play to them—and make sure to highlight those benefits in your job listings during your small business hiring process.

3. Utilize HR Tech

There’s a wide array of HR technology available for small business hiring. Even if your company has an HR department of one, investing in the right software can take your recruitment strategy to the next level. Solutions can be all-inclusive or single service; it all depends on your needs and budget. An applicant tracking system (ATS), for example, enables business owners to quickly post to job boards, to boost current ads, and to integrate with other essential components in the recruitment process.

With so many options, it can be difficult to figure out which HR tech will benefit your business most. Analyze your current recruitment process and attempt to identify where you might be losing candidates. Is your application process too lengthy? Does your HR team have difficulty communicating with candidates? Is your team using multiple, unintegrated systems and wasting time switching between them? Finding and addressing these pain points keeps your business from losing out on valuable talent.

4. Talent Analytics

Your company may or may not already offer your standard benefits package. These can be an obvious bonus for candidates, but small businesses can also offer perks that larger companies can’t or won’t offer. Many small businesses are getting creative with their benefits: from dog-friendly offices to free popcorn in the breakroom, owners of small and mid-sized companies are finding ways to lure in great talent.

Think of what unique perks your business could feasibly provide to your employees. Holiday celebrations, catered lunches, a breakroom library, and professional development sessions can be low-cost perks that draw in high
quality talent.

When it comes to winning the war for talent, small business hiring may feel like little David facing down an unbeatable giant. But a good recruitment process, smart use of available technology and professional networks, and knowing what your business can bring to the table can give your small or mid-sized business the edge it needs to topple your larger competitors.


Ready to find the right candidate for your business? In addition to our on-demand screening portal, InfoMart designed TalentASAP, an applicant tracking system specifically for growing businesses. Check it out today!

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About Tammy Cohen

Tammy Cohen, an industry pioneer and expert in identity and employment screening, founded InfoMart 30 years ago. Deemed the “Queen of Screen,” she’s been a force behind industry-leading innovations. She was most recently the first-to-market with a fully compliant sanctions search, as well as a suite of identity services that modernizes talent onboarding. Tammy revolutionized the screening industry when she stepped into the field, developing the first client-facing application and a due diligence criminal search that has since become standard for all background screening companies. Cohen has received national awards and honors for her business and civic involvement, including Atlanta Business Chronicle’s Top 25 Women-Owned Firms in Atlanta, Enterprising Women Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award, the YWCA of Northwest Georgia’s Kathryn Woods Racial Justice Award, and a commendation in the 152nd Congressional Record.

About InfoMart

InfoMart has been revolutionizing the global background and identity screening industry for 30 years, providing businesses the information they need to make informed hiring decisions. They develop innovative technology that modernizes talent onboarding, including a first-to-market biometric identity authentication application and a verified sanctions search. The WBENC-certified company is a founding member of the Professional Background Screening Association, and they have achieved PBSA accreditation in recognition of their consistent business practices and commitment to compliance with the FCRA. The company is dedicated to customer service, speed, and accuracy, and it has been recognized for its success, workplace culture, and corporate citizenship with over 45 industry awards. To Get the Whole Story on InfoMart, please visit, follow @InfoMartUSA, or call (770) 984-2727.

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