Are there any aspects of business that haven’t been upended in the past year? Supply chains have broken, the cost of materials has skyrocketed, in-person events have been canceled, and small business owners are often left wondering how to keep their heads above water amidst the chaos. We have little control over future events, so our main objective should be anticipating what we can and then navigating each development as nimbly as possible. An underrated aspect of this strategy is actually leveraging the upheaval at times. A prime example is found in the recent trend of employees quitting around the country. “More US workers are quitting their jobs than at any time in at least 2 decades, signaling optimism among many professionals while also adding to the struggle companies face trying to keep up with the economic recovery,” says a workforce analysis from the Wall Street Journal. “The wave of resignations marks a sharp turn from the darkest days of the pandemic, when workers craved job security while weathering a national health and economic crisis. In April, the share of US workers leaving jobs was 2.7%, according to the Labor Department, a jump from 1.6% a year earlier to the highest level since at least 2000.” This worker exodus isn’t ideal news, and there’s a good chance that your business has felt the pain of losing top contributors. Perhaps unfilled positions are still disrupting your operations or hurting morale at this point. But you now have the opportunity to focus on attracting new (and even better) talent. There are more potential candidates than at any point in 20 years, meaning this is the perfect time to either replace a departed employee or expand your business by hiring for a new role. Tips for Attracting Top Talent Ready to make lemonade out of this rather bitter trend of employee departures? You’ll need to start by making your small business an attractive landing spot for those in the job market. And this process starts loooooooong before you bring someone in for their first interview. Manage Your Reputation You could have the best elevator pitch in the land, but it won’t do you any good if you aren’t able to meet quality candidates. So be sure to focus on the first words and opinions they will see. A great place to start is Glassdoor. Many individuals use the reviews, salary estimates, and other information from this website to gauge their interest in a business. If they don’t like what they see, you can kiss them goodbye. Carefully review your business information on Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other review sites to make sure it’s all accurate. After handling that low-hanging fruit, tackle the more important issues of reviews. Encourage your current employees to share their honest opinions. If there are negative opinions, respond to them and see if you can reach a resolution. These actions go a long way in assuaging a potential candidate’s fears and building confidence. Leverage Social Media Social media is another area where your reputation and image are on public display. How does your business look on your various channels? Your content should be updated, so if the last post is from 2 summers ago, you either need to put a plan in place for more regular posting or delete the channel altogether. If there are negative reviews on your social accounts, do what you can to resolve them. Even when a peaceful ending is impossible, the fact that you made an effort will be noticed. You should also use your social channels to showcase your culture and what’s unique about your business. Perhaps you post a monthly video testimonial from one of your employees. Or you could post photos from your philanthropic work in the community. Just don’t miss this opportunity to communicate with potential employees. Lay Out a Strategy for Recruiting Reputation management is part of your overall recruiting strategy. By putting together a cohesive plan, you’ll ensure your messaging is consistent and serves a greater purpose than just filling up space. What are the most important messages you think potential employees should see? Once you’ve identified them, make sure those messages ring through on your website, blog, social channels, advertising, and any other outward-facing initiatives. Enlist Your Employees If you want quality people who have a high likelihood of staying with your company, look to the tenured folks who already work with you. Employee referrals have always been a prime way to meet good candidates. 2 of the biggest reasons for employee turnover are a mismatch with company culture and the lack of a friend. But when someone is referred for a job, they’ll already know someone at your company. And because they were recommended by a current employee, there’s a good chance that they’ve had conversations about your culture and understand what they’re getting into. There’s an ongoing debate about whether or not referral bonuses are helpful. I think they are, as long as the program is clearly communicated to employees and the bonus isn’t paid unless the candidate remains with your company for a set amount of time. Invite Candidates In Have you ever held an open house? It can be a great way to showcase your unique culture and connect with candidates who are reluctant to jump into the interview process with gusto. Widen Your Net With so many top-notch professionals leaving their full-time jobs, lots of potential contributors are in the market. But many of them might not be interested in returning to full-time work. Consider the freelance route as a way to collaborate with talented workers on a more limited basis. Not only can this save you money in the long run, but it also makes it possible for you to partner with people who would never have considered a full-time job with your business. Never Stop Refining Your Efforts There are millions of articles out there covering specific topics like what questions to ask in a job interview or how to onboard an employee. While these are important things to consider, they illustrate the fact that too much emphasis is placed on the hiring process, beginning with a job interview. By putting a renewed focus on attracting top talent, you can create a steady pipeline of candidates. It will take effort and innovation. But you’ve got to bring great people in your door before you can even begin to think about what the onboarding process will look like in their first 30 days.