Are you doing enough to attract top talent for your business? Currently, there are between 5 and 10 million unfilled positions nationwide, giving prospective employees more options than ever before.

Kevin O’Connor, the Emmy award-winning host of This Old House, joined our webinar to share his top insights for attracting and retaining top talent in an extremely competitive environment.

Here are our key takeaways.

Look Inward

As a small business owner, it’s crucial to think about whether or not you’re doing enough to meet your goals.

attracting talen

Think about how you’ll be perceived among all of your competitors or other employers in your industry. If you’re able to meet the needs of employees, you’ll likely find yourself at the front of that line.

However, if you’re not doing everything you can, you’ll find yourself falling to the middle, or even the back. As O’Connor put it, “If small businesses … aren’t asking themselves the question, ‘are you doing enough?’ they are setting themselves up for failure.”

This, of course, begs the question, how can small businesses do enough? It starts by understanding what employees want.

Meet Top Talent Expectations

While each individual person has their own expectations, studies show that four basic elements most heavily affect where people apply and eventually choose to work.

  • Good Pay. It should come as no surprise that employees want to make as much money as possible in their industry.
  • Interesting Jobs. Most people want their job to be engaging, exciting and challenging.
  • Impactful Jobs. People want their work to have meaning, whether it’s positively impacting the customers they work with, the communities they are in, or connecting with co-workers.
  • Promotion Opportunities. Potential and current employees want to work somewhere with opportunities for advancement.

In addition to these four key categories, employees want to be exposed to technology and prioritize flexible work environments.

Communicate the Change

Your small business needs to figure out how to not only meet these needs but to communicate that you’ve done so.

Here are O’Connor’s ideas to get started:

1. Build a brand

Most businesses, whether big or small, have developed a brand. However, small companies often focus all of their branding efforts on attracting customers, and very little on attracting employees.

Start thinking about how to use your brand to bring in employees, in addition to customers. How can you do that? By focusing on why you do what you do, instead of what you’re doing.

Remember, people want jobs that are impactful, and focusing on the why will highlight the impact of your work. What problems are you solving for individuals and communities? How have you helped people?

The why is just as important as the what when it comes to attracting talent — and your brand needs to tell that story.

2. Embrace social media

Even if you hate it, social media should not be ignored as a recruiting tool. Social media is where your future employees are, and it focuses on a hyper-local market.

3. Expand your talent pool

If you’re only looking for employees in the most common spaces and with the most traditional backgrounds or experiences for your industry, you’ll miss out on great talent.

In our webinar, O’Connor shared how a television producer on his show used her expertise in “controlling the chaos” to transfer into construction project management — an environment where she thrives.

If the company she works for only considered employees with experience in construction, they would’ve missed out on an incredible hire.

4. Flexibility is a must

For small businesses whose work requires employees to be onsite (such as construction or service workers), this can get complicated. However, there are some creative ways to give your employees the flexibility they want.

Perhaps you can switch to a four-day work week, or employ more flexible hours that better fit your employee’s schedules.

5. Offer career advancement

Are you showing people that you’re offering them a long-term career with opportunities for growth, or are you hiring them for one specific, narrow task?

Through teamwork, access to skill development and mentorship, you can create situations where people who have skills can pass them down, benefitting the entire team.

Finding and retaining talent is a struggle that all businesses — big and small — are facing right now. By taking time to reflect on your efforts, you’ll be able to change your strategies and compete.

To join future webinars with our featured guests, please visit To watch O’Connor’s full, on-demand session, click here.

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