James CEO of XYZ Company in Austin, TX writes...
"My name is James and I own a 5 year old Technology Consulting firm specializing in Medical Applications. We just hit our first milestone of $1mm in revenue and have been given additional project work which is great. However the problem is we need to hire critical tech talent in order to "ride the wave" and scale, however I know we don't have the "deep pockets" of bigger organizations to compete. I have spoken to a couple of candidates that are definitely interested in coming to work for us because they like the idea of working for a small company and like our mission. However I know I can't pay them what they are worth."
"Help Me Recruiter" what do I do?"
James first of all thank you for writing in I appreciate you writing in and sharing your issue! It's one that a lot of organizations of your size have so you asking will also help others in our community! The easy answer to that question is you don't play a game you can't win and don't compete with those organizations on trying to "one up them" on paying a higher salary.
Now that doesn't mean James I'm telling you not pursue the talent you need and want, you absolutely should! You just need to play to your organizations strengths. Here is what I mean.
First of all you want to find out other motivating factors the candidate has in selecting a "new home". If money is their top motivating factor, then James that is a candidate you DON'T WANT to pursue. Because even if you could give them the salary they are asking for. More than likely another firm will come in with more money 6 to 12 months down the road and they will leave you anyway.
Next you want to evaluate what makes your organization special to work for? Being a smaller firm you can offer more flexibility in work/life balance such as working from home or generous PTO. Work/Life is a very important factor to employees. Also being a smaller firm there is far less layers of management . Therefore the employee has more autonomy to do the type of work they want to do and have their efforts more visible at a higher level then in a large silo organization. Also being in a smaller firm opportunities to "wear different hats" gives employees the opportunity to expand their skills and maybe move into a different area far easier then in a larger organization.
James I can go on and on with the examples but I think you understand, find what makes your company special. Then when you are interviewing candidates hone in on what is motivating them besides money. If you can't find anything else I would decline them immediately in the process even if they are a "Rock Star" that you covet.
As mentioned earlier even if you "go all in" and can land them, chances are you will lose them in less than a year because someone will throw "outrageous money" to lure them away and if you are relying on them in a critical project that could be more devastating then never having that employee in the first place.
Once you find what motivates them this next step I know seems risky but it makes your organization look classy. I would say to the person, "so and so we are very interested in your candidacy and potentially see you as someone we want to bring onboard. However to be honest, with your skill sets I know you are going to have a lot of interest out in the market which will probably pay you way more than what we have budget for. We would love to compete in salary for you and would so without hesitation if we could. However being honest with ourselves we can't do that, but here are some other perks of working for us." Then James you start making your case. You would be surprised what that type of honesty and vulnerability does with a candidates emotions. If they can work with the salary you can afford, they would rather work for an organization like yours than a larger firm that will just throw money their way.
James I hope this helps and hang in there and good luck hiring that person to keep your business growing!
Hey guys if you like this article and think it helps or want to ask me another Hiring Question, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear from you! Until next time, Peace out!
"Help Me Recruiter"