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This column by Richard Lively was originally published online by Lehigh Valley Business on November 1, 2019.

For companies that aren’t the size of Google or Amazon, it can be challenging to attract top talent in today’s job market. With unemployment at historic lows yet hiring on a slowdown, a lot of small businesses are experiencing empty seats that are getting harder and harder to fill with quality talent.

It’s costly to their bottom line, especially if these small companies are operating within a big industry, like tech, manufacturing and logistics. Effective talent recruiting strategies become essential to staying competitive.

So what’s an employer with a small business to do? Below are three ways to move the recruiting needle in your favor, even if you are a small fish in a big pond.

1. Invest time and energy into your employer brand.

“You can’t sell it if you can’t tell it.” That’s according to former GE Chief Marketing Officer and author Beth Comstock. The advice translates well into today’s best recruiting practices. If you own a small business, you need to tell your company’s story in a compelling way in order to ‘sell’ the position you’re looking to fill. Building your employer brand this way helps develop and promote your organization as an employer of choice.

While many smaller companies are clear about their brand to their clients and consumers, many have not given enough thought to the image and reputation projected to their current and future employees. This is unfortunate, because employer branding impacts recruiting strategies more than most people might think.

Be more creative with your employer brand outreach, too. According to Forbes, companies are relying more and more on social media outlets for branding and YouTube for videos that show why they are great places to work. Social media also gives people a means to like and share job postings and positive workplace news.

2. Your current employees are some of your best brand ambassadors.

Your current employees can serve as a very effective extension of your recruiting program, especially when the market for talent is this competitive. Bring team members to recruiting events, share their professional profiles online and offer incentives for candidate referrals. Candidates love hearing directly from their would-be peers as to what it’s really like to work at your company. And employee referrals are more likely to result in a strong culture fit, which can mean higher retention and productivity rates in your workplace. Who doesn’t like that?

Senior leadership can also be a part of the recruiting process. When senior leadership takes the time to meet prospective candidates that is an impactful message. It signals that those who run the company are invested in its workforce. What’s more, executives tend to be some of the best sales people at the company. Use that to your advantage.

3. Cut through some of the ‘recruiting noise’ out there.

There are a lot of other businesses out there competing for the same best-of-the-best candidates that you are. Large and small organizations are trying all kinds of attention-seeking means to grab people’s attention.

To cut through this “recruiting noise,” you need to be creative too, just remember to keep it authentic. If they can’t tell right away that a rosy picture isn’t reality, candidates will once they get hired and settle in to your company environment. Don’t risk ruining the reputation you took time to build on social media and in other platforms by not delivering on the desirable, positive workplace you advertised.

Attracting and retaining talent requires a comprehensive employment strategy that runs 12 months a year, not just when you need to hire someone to fill an empty seat. Taking time to build a smart, structured plan and brand will help your small business compete in a big industry for the very best candidates.

Written by Richard Lively, partner and Vice President of HR Consulting Services, with Margo Trott Collins, Senior Consultant, Employer Branding & Digital Content.