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Small Business Branding to Acquire Top Talent


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in America is currently 3.5%. With 6.4 million available jobs, and fewer workers to fill those positions, America is currently witnessing a highly competitive labor market. In South Carolina, alone, unemployment has been holding at a country-wide low of 2.4%.

As a result of the tight employment market in America, and especially South Carolina, there has been an employment relationship shift between employers and employees. Now, businesses need employees more than employees need the business. As workers live in a growing economy and are offered more significant job opportunities, the competition to acquire talent continues to increase. Most importantly, economic forecasts indicate the current labor situation will not improve. Rather, we will continue to see a high level of competition, especially regarding specific industry skill sets, which are critical for the enablement of business.

Small Business

In America, there are over 28 million small businesses, which the Small Business Administration defines as an enterprise with fewer than 500 employees. Likewise, in South Carolina there are 312,108 small businesses. At large, over 50% of the working population is employed by a small business.

While small businesses employ a majority of the available workforce, they face a large challenge from big businesses and corporations: consumer brand recognition. Since small businesses cannot compete with big businesses in terms of monetary resources and networking capabilities, they must expel greater effort and intentionality in defining their own differentiators.

To position themselves strongly in a difficult labor market, small businesses must foster an employment brand. Provided by, an employment brand is “the market perception of what it’s like to work for an organization.” Thus, to build a reputable employment brand and better position oneself in the tight job market, a small business should emphasize:

  • Perspective: view potential employees as customers, marketing your small business as a great employer. In doing so, a shift in perspective allows companies to focus on how they deliver value to the end user, or in this case, job candidates. By centering the attention on the needs of the employee, rather than the demand of the employer, a company highlights care and the value proposition of the position. This minor shift in marketing efforts is extremely attractive to talent in the cluttered labor pool.
  • Flexibility: this “how-to” step involves heavily promoting company culture. One of the most important factors to candidates who are considering a new job is the ability to have flexible hours, work remotely, and the ability to be engaged in their community and happy outside of work. Even if your company doesn’t offer all of these options, it’s important to showcase what you DO offer, and that you value work-life-balance.
  • Voice: to many workers, voice plays a large role in job satisfaction. Generally, in small businesses employees are offered a larger voice than one granted in a large corporation. Moreover, employees in these positions can wear many hats, working in many roles and utilizing different resources. This can be a great selling feature, especially for Millennials and Gen Z, who value challenges and evolving work responsibilities. Candidates want to hear about these opportunities, especially from those who can speak from experience. Current employees can play an exemplary role as vocal company ambassadors - make sure you use them.

It’s important to remember that word of mouth communication is extremely influential in echoing employment branding among small businesses. Be strategic about how your branding is communicated, and who communicates it. Your employment brand should be emulated from the inside-out, allowing for a genuine and sincere view of the organization. Your brand should loosely tell the company’s story, and can be tweaked to the needs of different individuals when trying to acquire great talent. Small companies have a great amount of employment advantages - make sure you actively share yours.