The global talent shortage is real. Many businesses already struggle to fill skilled job openings, and it is only going to get tougher. By 2030, the global talent shortage could top 85.2 million people, according to Korn Ferry Institute research. Failure to find the right talent could cost industries billions in lost revenue annually.

As the talent gap widens, the best and brightest candidates will have their pick of opportunities, which means small and midsize businesses (SMBs) are competing--even more than usual--with large organizations. So, SMBs need to start finding and retaining the talent they need for the future, today.

To maximize your recruitment return on investment (ROI), learn how to recognize, attract, and retain high-value candidates. These are the people most likely to contribute to your organization, and to stay engaged and productive for a significant time period. These tips should help.

  1. Design your culture

Research shows that the number-one reason candidates choose one job over another is company culture. Every business has a culture, either by design or default. If you don’t define it yourself, your employees will do it for you, explains Mary Massad, division president of employment operations at Insperity, a professional employer organization (PEO) that offers businesses full-service HR solutions.

So, take the reins. Define your culture, consider how it contributes to your business objectives, and learn to describe it in the recruitment process. This will help candidates better understand your workplace and determine whether it is the right fit.

Massad adds that you can’t fake it. “You can’t tell the world your culture is one of creativity and then squelch creativity at every corner. The culture you develop has to be real,” she says.

  1. Share the “bad” stuff

At “What’s Your Workplace ROI? It’s All About the Company You Keep,” a panel discussion in Chicago, sponsored by Insperity , Massad spoke about recruitment and retention strategies. Grace Zuncic, svp of people at yogurt manufacturer Chobani also contributed, advising business owners to be honest about their culture, even the so-called negative aspects.

The yogurt brand embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s just 10 years old and growing, so Zuncic says some areas of the business lack defined processes. But, strong candidates actually like that. They see it as an opportunity to take ownership, build things from scratch, and advance their careers. Being honest about what it is like to work there has helped Chobani attract the right people and compete with larger consumer products companies. 

  1. Identify your recruitment UVP

Compensation and benefits matter, but they are not everything. Massad’s advice during the panel discussion was that smaller businesses should lean into their unique advantages, as Chobani has done. For example, many small businesses give employees access to the C-suite, something you won’t get at all enterprises.

You need to identify the workplace attributes employees value, as well as what makes your company unique. Insperity does this when recruiting talent for its own team, and it advises its small business clients to do the same.

  1. Think like the NFL 

Massad suggests businesses take a page from the NFL playbook and scout talent early. Insperity partners with local high schools to help students apply to college. Employees assist with resumes and applications and conduct mock interviews. This reflects Insperity’s commitment to the community, engages employees, and helps with recruitment. These students, and their parents, remember Insperity when it is time to apply for their first job, Massad explains.

To get started, reach out to your local high school to offer your support. Or, contact local universities to find ways to lend your time.

  1. Remember the practical

In addition to the culture component of your recruitment program, you have to remember the practical side, explains Massad. Define your interviewing strategy--what you are asking and why--and figure out who is conducting the interviews. Leverage pre-employment assessments for personality and skillsets and incorporate background checks to ensure you are choosing a viable candidate. Zuncic suggests that small businesses prioritize resources by starting with the job openings that matter most to the business strategy.

No matter what your business size is, success depends on people. Investing in recruitment and retention will help you secure the talent you need to compete with larger companies and achieve your goals.