Recruiting in a Tough Climate

Did you feel the heat this summer? Today, the Washington area is home to one of the nation's hottest economies. And that's making local professional service firms really sweat. For many, the biggest challenge isn't developing new business, it's keeping up with all the work.

Look around. Almost everyone's hiring, and all that competition means firms are having a lot of trouble finding qualified talent to sustain their growth. With local unemployment hovering around 3.4%, many companies in their quest for new blood are offering hefty cash rewards to staff who refer new employees.

What can your business do to beat the heat in a torrid market? Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

1. Are you keeping what you've got?

The last thing you want to happen in a tight job market is to lose valuable employees to a competitor. Do what it takes to motivate and reward your business' most important assets—your employees. Institute profit sharing, invest in team building, recognize employee contributions, or upgrade your benefits. You can't afford to lose top talent.

2. Are you getting the word out?

Tysons Corner-based CPA firm Beers & Cutler says it right on their home page: “We are hiring.” They've run that message for seven years—and over that period they've doubled in size. So don't be shy—let the world know you're looking for great people. Growth will come a whole lot easier.

3. Is your brand hiring?

College graduates know all about the Fortune 500 companies. So how can smaller firms attract quality talent? Your brand can make all the difference. Don't be afraid to retool your brand image to appeal to a younger audience. By expressing your firm's personality through your brand, you reveal your human side. In the often impersonal world of professional service firms, personality can differentiate you and make your company more approachable, friendly, and engaging. Prospective employees and customers will see and feel the difference right away. Count on it.

The bottom line? Great employees are the engine of every successful business. Equip your brand to speak to prospective employees and you'll feel a lot cooler in today's torrid climate.

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5 Tips to Attract Great Employees

Be honest about who you are and your working environment. You never want to hire people under false pretenses. Tell it like it is, and you'll attract individuals who fit your corporate culture.

On your website, devote a page—or better yet a whole section—to recruiting. And be sure it tells a compelling story.

Ask current employees to describe their hiring and job experiences. Then feature these true-life stories in your marketing materials. You'll be surprised how persuasive it can be.

Working for a smaller firm has its advantages. Make a list of the great things about your workplace. Then talk them up.

Show your personality. If you have a fun workplace, offer outstanding benefits, or give back to the community. Don't hold it in. There's a good chance it will differentiate you!

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