Posted in HR | by: Suzanne Lucas

Where Should You Really Spend Your Recruiting Dollars? Here Are 5 Scrappy Ideas

We teamed up with Evil HR Lady, aka Suzanne Lucas, to unwrap the biggest HR issues that impact small business owners. Have a question for Suzanne? Tell us about it here.


If you work for a hot startup or a Fortune 100 company, recruiting is no big deal.

If you work for the former, applications probably flood your website. Plus, you’ve got the budget to splurge on specialized headhunters to find the exact match for each role. If you work for the latter, candidates are probably scrambling to get in on the ground floor of something huge.

But for everyone else? Well, your budget isn’t endless. The reality is, you need the best employees and you don’t want to waste any money getting there. So we came up with five affordable ideas for small businesses looking to get the most out of their recruiting bucks.

1. Employee referrals.

Do you have ridiculously talented employees? Do you want more people who are just as talented? Then employee referrals can be the single best way to find top performers. Ask your current team to recommend people from their network. Then, offer a referral bonus if that person ends up getting the job.

The benefit of this system is that candidates have already been vetted by someone you trust. Your employees can give you in-depth details on that person’s relevant strengths and weaknesses. That’s way better than a 15-minute call with someone you’ve never met.

2. LinkedIn (but not officially).

You can pay to have a job posted on LinkedIn, which could cost you hundreds of dollars. Depending on your targets, that may not be a bad idea. But did you know you can do it for free too?

If you have a strong LinkedIn presence—this won’t work if you only have 30 connections—just post the following two things as an update:

  • Brief information about the role.
  • A link to your full job listing.

And, here’s the critical part—as soon as it’s posted, have five or more people like the post and comment on it. That tells LinkedIn that it’s an engaging post. As a result, it will show up in more people’s feeds.

  • Price: Free.
  • Effectiveness: It depends on the strength of your LinkedIn network. Incidentally, it’s not so much your direct contacts that matter, but really, your second-level connections.
  • Caution: With a great network, this tactic is extremely effective. With a lousy network, this probably isn’t worth your time

3. Paid Facebook and Twitter ads.

While LinkedIn is a directory of professionals (that includes job seekers), there are plenty of other places you can advertise your open roles. For example, you can run a Facebook ad for a job posting and target it towards people who you think would be interested.

Let’s say you’re looking for people to work at your coffee shop that invites various local musicians to play. You might target the ad towards local people who like indie music. And you can do the same with Twitter, although Twitter doesn’t allow you to customize your market as much.

4. Your own files.

Sure, you’ve interviewed incredible people with incredible skills. But for one reason or another, they didn’t get the job. You may also have ex-teammates who left for a new gig but are now interested in coming back. There’s no reason not to reach out to those former employees or former candidates if you have a new opening that could be perfect for them.

  • Price: Free.
  • Effectiveness: If you use this correctly and contact people you already know will be a great fit, it can be highly effective.
  • Caution: Burning bridges goes both ways. If you reach out to a former employee, don’t require that person to sit through three rounds of interviews. You already know their skills and capabilities, so only put them through one round of interviews where you can see if the new role works for both of you.

5. A careers page.

Every giant company has a careers page, but your small business might not. The thing is, setting up a page won’t cost much, depending on who maintains your website. When you post the job description, just make sure it uses keywords that people actually look for.

For instance, don’t use unique job titles, like “Chief Technical Problem Solver,”  when any job hunter would search for  “IT Manager.”

If you’re not actively recruiting anyone, use your careers/jobs page to describe the types of people you generally hire and encourage interested folks to submit a resume anyway. The cool thing is that when you do need to fill a position, you’ll already have people in your file. (See above.)

  • Cost: From free to a few hundred dollars, depending on who manages your webpage.
  • Effectiveness: This is how job seekers look for jobs now. With good SEO, this can be a great way to attract candidates.
  • Caution: None. Every business should do this, regardless of any other recruiting plans.

See? You don’t have to pour gobs of money into recruiting for your small business. Instead, personalize your approach so it works for your budget and the types of candidates you need. Then, watch as all those flawless applications start to stream in.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent Gusto’s views.

While this article contains general information, it’s not intended to be construed as legal or HR advice. Consult an HR expert or lawyer if you have any hiring questions specific to your business.

About Suzanne Lucas

Suzanne Lucas spent 10 years in corporate HR where she hired, fired, managed the numbers, and double-checked with the lawyers. Now she writes and speaks about human resources, business, and how to make your job and company the best it possibly can be. Follow Suzanne on Twitter.