Welcome to part 2 of our series on hiring: the #1 thing on every entrepreneur’s mind right now (well, hiring and a possible recession).

In part 1, we talked about the importance of leading with a great company culture. Today, let’s tackle hiring from a completely different angle: making the sale.

Too many business owners are used to a different kind of market, one where employees are hungry for work and eagerly seeking the security of stable employment. That is not the market we’re operating in today.

Today, candidates run the show. You are not the only option they’re considering. And if you introduce any friction into the sales process—and yes, you are selling yourself to potential employees—you’re less likely to close the deal.

Are You Selling Yourself to Candidates?

How good are you at selling your company to potential candidates? Not only in terms of articulating your core values but in terms of the actual process of hiring?

If you keep candidates dangling for weeks, fail to communicate clearly and regularly, or make them jump through too many hoops, you’re going to lose them before you have them. 

I can’t stress enough that this is exactly like selling to your next customer. You want to create a smooth process for candidates to step into, make it easy for them to move through your funnel, and, if there’s a match, create a seamless transition into partnering with you.

And if you’ve got an aggressive, hard-sell style, don’t think that’s going to solve the problem, either. A candidate who has buyer’s remorse about saying yes to your organization isn’t going to stick around very long—or show up at all.

How to Create a Great Candidate Experience In Your Hiring Process

We had a chance to speak with Tom Pimm of Hub Recruiting, one of our recruiting partners. Tom has some great suggestions for how to create a great candidate experience during hiring: 

Sweat the small stuff. A great experience shines through in the little details. Don’t underestimate the importance of being courteous to candidates and having great etiquette. Show up to interviews on time; end on time as well. Put yourself in their shoes and create the kind of experience you would want to have if you were looking for a new job.

Communicate early and often. You almost can’t overcommunicate with candidates when it comes to hiring. Share detailed updates as soon as possible, and never leave them in the dark if you can help it. Ambiguity drives people away. You may not be able to make a decision quickly, but you can keep them in the loop about your process and what they can expect from it. 

Leave everyone with a good impression. That second or third-place candidate you didn’t hire today may be the person you’re looking for next quarter or next year. Work to leave everyone with a great impression of your company, even if you don’t ultimately offer them a position. Regardless of whether things work out, building a relationship with candidates is one great way to establish your bench of potential hires for the future.

How to Close the Deal When Hiring New Employees

Here’s our best advice on positioning an offer that will seal the deal with your next new employee:

Compensation. You will get what you pay for. When possible, aim for 10% better than average compensation for the role or what they could achieve on their own.

Benefits. You can’t compete with Fortune 500 companies on benefits packages. Your candidates already know that. Make benefits as generous as they can be, when they can be.

Flexibility. One way to offset so-so benefits is by offering more flexibility. May you can make a role hybrid or remote, or maybe you can open up your vacation policy to offer additional time off.

Culture. The right people will be attracted to the company culture you’ve created. Don’t overlook your culture and values as a selling point.

Speed. As soon as you know someone is the right fit, make the offer. No mind games and no stalling. This is where you need a strong process to kick into place.