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Based on Guidant Financial’s Small Business Trends data, recruiting and retaining employees is the #2 challenge for small business owners – behind only capital and cashflow, understandably. This recruitment and retention problem even grew 22 percent year over year, despite historically high unemployment rates. With small business owners thinking about money and people more than anything else to keep their businesses thriving, it might be tempting to grab a huge sign and join the group of dancing, sign-twirling advertisers on the street. Before flexing your dance moves and twirling skills here are 5 cost-effective ways to attract great talent right now.

Top 5 Inexpensive Ways of Finding Great Employees

1. Referrals from Current Team Members

We believe our best people often come from our best people. Regularly remind top performers how great they are and ask who they know that could come and contribute in a similar way.

What’s also great about top performers is they have great filters. They will generally only refer people they feel confident will do a good job for the company and typically wouldn’t even refer a close friend if they knew it wasn’t in the company’s best interest. An employee bonus is optional. Some companies find it useful; others do not.

2. Recommendations from Company Alumni

Remember that offboarding team members can be just as important as onboarding them. We celebrate people exiting the company no matter how long they’ve been with us because we’re grateful for their contributions, and we’re excited that Guidant could have helped them advance in their careers. We encourage the team to stay in contact with them. This has created a powerful alumni network that regularly refers candidates back to us. We have an amazing recruiter today because they were referred by a former recruiter!

Another benefit is boomerang employees – those that return to a prior company after working elsewhere. Quoting the Corporate Culture and Boomerang Employee Study by Workplace Trends, Bamboo HR states that 15 percent of employees have boomeranged back to a former employer. Guidant’s Head of People has a monthly reminder on his calendar to reach out to former team members to check in with them and their roles. Some amazing team members at Guidant have gone to other companies for a time and have returned, ready to jump back into making a positive impact.

3. Optimize Your Glassdoor

Love it or hate, Glassdoor contains reviews of companies from current and former employees. Lean into it by encouraging current team members to leave reviews for others to see and have a senior leader monitor closely to respond to all reviews. We solicit reviews at 30 days and 90 days for new team members then throughout the year for all employees. David Nilssen, our CEO, appreciates and responds to every review. Many new hires at Guidant Financial indicate that they checked Glassdoor as part of their decision-making process before deciding to join. Jump into Glassdoor, own your page, and proactively showcase the very best that your company has to offer. This will help put you more in control of your employer brand online.

Still need some help? Check out this Entrepreneur article that also encourages responses from the CEO, along with great tips on responding to negative reviews in particular.


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4. Overhire Talent

This may cost more in the short-run but can be a significant benefit in the long-run. If there is one open position and there are two amazing candidates, hire them both! Especially if it’s a position that is open often or there are many people in that role already. Training two or more people at once creates great efficiency and can create a positive cohort-type experience for those joining the company. Having an additional person in that role can help in times of absences and saves significant time not having to recruit for the next opening.

5. Remember Prior Candidates

If you can’t overhire or a great candidate would have been a better fit for another role, we often tell those not selected that we’ll keep in touch for future opportunities. Here’s a key tip: mean it. Follow through by keeping a list of top candidates, much like salespeople do with prospects. Find ways to keep in touch and be ready to reach out when a good fit does become available.

There are some applicant tracking systems that are a good value, and even a simple spreadsheet will work. After candidates hear the old, “we had so many great candidates,” “you were our second choice,” “we wish we could have hired you both,” and “let’s keep in touch,” actually following through on a commitment is impressive. It sends a powerful message that they matter and that you care; two great reasons for them to think again about joining the company. If they’re already in a position with a company that they prefer to stay with, you still have another referral opportunity to ask who they can introduce you to that might be a good fit.

Bonus Tip from an HR Expert!

As long as we’re getting good at asking people who they know will be a good fit, let’s include our happy clients, who are our raving fans. Already committed to your success, this is a perfect way to continue their loyalty and compliment them by asking for their opinion – “I’m looking for an amazing (Nurse, Cook, Accountant, etc.), who do you know that would be the very best?” Best case scenario – you have a new candidate, worst case scenario – you’ve made a new contact that you’ve complimented by indicating they were very highly recommended. Well worth the few-minute investment.

It’s important to understand that not all of these will work for each company, and some of these approaches may have their own risks – such as how getting referrals from current team members typically maintains the same diversity as before, which can be a problem for a company looking to expand diversity, and the temptation to hire low performing alumni because “they would need no training” can be very high when the demand for people is great. Thoughtfully consider how to pause and implement whatever idea will work best.

While you still might be ready to grab that sign and start dancing on the sidewalk (which, by the way, might work if you alert your local news that the CEO or owner is going to be out dancing for a couple of hours!), we hope that some of these simple tips help bring great people into your organization before hitting the streets. At Guidant, we genuinely hope your business can thrive and you enjoy working together with the talented people you welcome into your company.


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By pressing “Get Started,” you agree to this website’s Privacy Policy. You also consent to receive information from Guidant Financial at the email address or telephone number you entered. This information may be provided by a phone system that can auto-dial. You aren’t required to consent to use our services.