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6 Ways to Attract Applicants to a Small Business
by Sara Pollock
May 5, 2022
Young black small business owner placing a "hiring" sign in store front window

Attracting applicants for a position at your small business can feel like an uphill battle. Without the deep pockets and big contracts that larger companies have, it can feel nearly impossible to secure the kind of talent that can successfully propel your business forward. At the same time, you understand that businesses are about people, and you're just a few superstars away from assembling a dream team that can accomplish any task.

This article discusses the most important aspects of attracting new applicants to your company. While you may not be able to provide everything on the list, if you can find an applicant who desperately wants something that you can provide, you have a much better chance of bringing them on board and seeing the best work that they have to offer.

Here are our top six factors that attract new applicants to a business.

Greater Compensation Attracts More Job Applications

Everyone wants to make more money for their time, and if you've got the budget to pay big salaries, you'll find it much easier to attract high-quality professionals to work at your business. On the other hand, you may feel like you can barely afford to pay minimum wage for your first employee. For small businesses, hiring your first employee can feel like a huge step, especially when most small business owners don't even pay themselves enough for the long hours they put in.

Insurance and Health Benefits Highly Valued

Many people will accept lower salary offers if they come with a substantial benefits package or health insurance. Applicants are looking for jobs that provide health insurance, and many people tend to view health insurance in terms of its potential value versus its expected value.

Imagine an applicant that wants to make a $50K salary. You offer them $35K, along with a health insurance package that costs you $5K. The employee "knows" that the value of the insurance does not make up the additional salary, but the thought that they might get sick and have a $10K hospital bill leads them to accept the reduced salary. Health insurance is a high-value benefit, and offering it to new employees could potentially save you a lot of cash in salary.

Attract a Younger Demographic with Special Job Perks

Let's face it - many people would never get out of bed and work in the morning if they could help it. Perks are the things that make working life a little more bearable for everyone, and they're also something you can emphasize during a phone or in-person interview to reel in an applicant.

Can you provide a company car? Will the employee be able to expense their gas or travel time? Do you provide catered lunch for the office each day or even once a week? Can an employee take home free or reduced-cost product? Does your break room have a mechanical bull in it?

Modern start-ups are known for designing offices full of perks – ping-pong tables, lounges, fridges full of beer – to entice young people into working there.

Applicants Love Working Closer to/at Home

Convenience is king, and people will bend over backward for the opportunity to work remotely or somewhere close to home. Applicants know that the time they spend traveling to and from work comes out of their leisure and family time, not to mention the cost of bus passes or gas for a personal vehicle.

The business itself could also be near a desirable location – a shopping mall that makes it easy to grab groceries before heading home, or a subway line that makes transportation easier. If your business is located in the middle of nowhere, it becomes more difficult to find applicants that are willing to travel.

Job Satisfaction Comes from Creating an Impact

Attract applicants to your small business by selling them on the meaning and impact of their work. Many professionals relish the chance to work at a small company, as they can more readily see the immediate benefits of their work. Workers at large corporations often feel like "cogs in a machine," or like their work doesn't matter. As a small business, you can tell applicants that their efforts are very important for the overall growth and success of the business. You can also emphasize the opportunity to make an impact in the description of any role you are trying to fill.

Equity Opportunities are Enticing for Applicants

Some small business owners offer special opportunities to early employees, such as receiving a profit-share or equity in the company in exchange for accepting a reduced salary. This structure works for prospective employees who believe in your business model and are in a position to accept reduced salaries today if they can own a portion of the company later.

Ownership shares plus salary can be an enticing deal for an applicant, but they'll need to enter a performance-based role where they have the opportunity to generate significant value for the company over the next several years.


Attracting more applicants to your business starts with understanding what exactly you have to offer. Whether it's a cool set of perks, health insurance and other benefits, a competitive salary, or an opportunity to do meaningful work as part of a team, you're bound to find someone whose needs match what you can offer.

About the author
Sara Pollock
As the Head of Marketing at ClearCompany, Sara has spent hundreds of hours interviewing, hiring, onboarding and assessing employees and candidates. She is passionate about sharing the best practices she has learned from both successes and failures in talent acquisition and management.
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