Hiring for SMEs in the Digital Economy

Jasmine Toh

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If you are still using newspaper classified ads for recruitment, read this blog.

If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, read this blog.

What is the Digital Economy?

A quick Google search shows the definition, “an economy that is based on digital computing technologies”. People are moving away from traditional forms of communication to online and social media; millennials have stopped reading newspapers and their primary source of information is their Facebook or Twitter news feed.

But what does that mean for your business?

Linkedin and online job applications are the new norms, and the world of recruiting has gone nearly 100% digital. So if your business still uses newspaper classified ads and lacks a LinkedIn profile, that should raise a red flag for you.

If you are an SME owner, you definitely understand the importance of recruitment and attracting talents for the business. 40% of SMEs found it tough to attract talent, stating the key challenge being their lack of reputation as “good company to work for”.

If you want to learn how you can boost your hiring using digital technology, read on.

Perspective of a Gen Y Job Seeker

You might think us Gen Ys are like aliens – mysterious and hard to understand. But with Gen Ys expected to form one-third of the global workforce in 2020, learning to see things from their perspective can give you a head start in the tug-of-war for talent. So as a member of Gen Y, I have decided to share my personal experience when sourcing for my internship to help you see things from “the alien’s” perspective.

My personal favourite job hunting tools include Linkedin Jobs, career fairs, my university job portal, and external portals such as Glints. (I managed to find an intern position with clickTRUE thanks to Glints!) Sometimes, I even like and follow certain company Facebook pages so that I can be notified when there is a job opportunity with them.

You may find this shocking, but before sending in my resume, I will always stalk the company’s social media and Glassdoor profile to have a glimpse of the work culture and determine if it’s a company I want to work for. The determining factor as to why I chose clickTRUE was the fun and friendly image the company had from their website, job description, and employee blogs.

Approaching HR with a Marketer’s Mindset

Recruitment is like sales, think of the candidate as your customer and recruiter as your salesperson or marketer. The various digital technology that you use for your sales can also be used for your HR needs. Here are some tips you can use.

1. Sell Your Employer Brand

You want your future employees to see your company as a great place to work for. My university professor once told me, “It is harder to get into Google than Harvard” and then proceeded to tell me about all their cool perks and office. After hearing that, I remember thinking, “Wow I want to work for Google too”.

How do they do it? Today’s talent are looking for work-life balance, a good company culture and opportunity for growth. Google has massive news coverage on how they can give employees all that. Coupled with their swanky new Asia HQ and attractive employee perks, no wonder they are Asia-Pacific millennials’ favourite employer. They have built their brand so well that people are spreading the word for them! (My professor would be a good example, considering that he has no affiliation with Google.) Of course, it might be too far a stretch to offer the same things Google does, but take leaf from their book, and start by embracing work-life balance policies, employee empowerment and building upon your company culture.

If you remember what I shared in the previous section, you know that candidates today will research on you just as much as you research them. They will look up your website and social media platforms, this is your chance to pitch your brand. You might think being on LinkedIn and Facebook is enough but if you want to increase your outreach, you have to be on Twitter, Google+, Instagram and so on. Different people have varying preferences for social media platforms, so it is important to be active on various channels. Here are some examples of companies that do it right.

Company Website


A good website will demonstrate the company’s mission, vision, and values. 


Employee blogs are also a good way to showcase your company culture. clickTRUE has blogs that feature employee reflections and special work events, to offer insight on how working in your company is like.


Coca-Cola currently has 1.1 million over followers on their LinkedIn profile. Asides sharing stories about their products, they also share stories relating to business innovation, jobs and workplace to better cater to the more professional audience on LinkedIn.


Dell’s career page has 600,000+ likes, which is more than Facebook’s own career page. They use pictures and videos to offer users a sneak peek of working life in Dell and showcase their culture. The main reason behind their large following and job applicants is user engagement.

They ask their users questions, from their new year resolutions to what they are doing on the weekend.


Before using Twitter as part of your social recruiting strategy, ensure that your target talent pool uses it. In other words. if you are looking for a chemical engineer, make sure that you have chemical engineers following you on Twitter. Otherwise, you will be barking up the wrong tree. If your customers are not your ideal employee, it might be a good idea to create a separate recruiting Twitter handle. Otherwise, it would be a better idea to leverage on your existing following.


AT&T has a different Twitter handle for recruitment efforts @attjobs. They use their employees as their own employee brand advocate, with #LifeAtATT to get employees to share about their work experience, give career advice to potential job seekers and more.

Do note that ultimately, all your social media pages should sing the same tune about your employment brand for it to be convincing and effective.

2. Optimise the Career Section on Your Website


When a job seeker enters your company website, it should take less than a second for them to find your career section. That’s one of the things that I love about Hyman’s corporate website – the careers page is highly visible on the top of the corporate site.

Also, the tone of their copy-writing is written with their target audience in mind. A common mistake many companies make is talking too much about themselves. Hyman distinctly stands out from such companies, “we’re confident that our early career programmes offer you something different”. Job seekers would be more engaged with such a description compared to the usual self-boasting and seemingly egoistic ones.


With the high smartphone penetration rates, it is crucial to have a mobile-friendly website. List all your unique selling points in one scroll-able, easy to read page that is aesthetically pleasing to your viewer.

3. Showcase Your Culture in Your Job Description

According to Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends survey, 82% of respondents believe that culture is a potential competitive advantage. No doubt, the key to attracting, engaging and retaining employees is your company culture.

There are four ways types of organizational cultures – clan, adhocracy, hierarchy and market. A clan culture is one that is very family-like and places a lot of emphasis on teamwork and collaboration. Adhocracy places emphasis on innovation and coming up with new products. Hierarchy is highly formalised and structured, with high emphasis on rules and policies. Market culture is results-oriented and highly competitive. Identify which type your company falls into and build on it by aligning your company policies to it.


Treat your job description as your sales pitch, you want to tell your candidate what is unique and exciting about your company. Look at the above example by the Events Artery, the use of quirky language breaks the typical boring job description mould. If your company has a fun culture, drop the formal language to attract fun-loving applicants.

4. Proactively Seek Passive Candidates Using LinkedIn

For most companies, it is no longer the norm to have qualified candidates swarm to your job advertisement anymore. Job seekers are becoming increasingly more passive, they do not mind waiting for the right job and almost expect you to find them instead. For all but critical jobs, 75% of the people you want to hire are passive. You can look for passive candidates through their social media profiles such as LinkedIn, which is often more accurate and updated than the traditional paper resume. These are some of the things you can do to hire a passive candidate using LinkedIn.

Step 1: Perfect Your LinkedIn Profile

A good LinkedIn profile should have a professional display picture, an attention-grabbing headline, concise biography and relevant stories that build their employer brand. Besides all these, it should be keywords rich. Prospective employees search LinkedIn using keywords and look at company profiles to decide which company they want to work for. This applies to both your company and recruiter’s profile.

Step 2: Search for Potential Employees


  • Using Keywords
    Using the “Advanced People Search feature”, type in key skills that you feel would be important for the job. Let’s say you are looking to fill a graphic designer position, you would probably type in “Photoshop” or “web design” etc. LinkedIn will then filter out a list of people who possess the skill set required.
  • Using Past or Current Employers
    Another way to narrow your search is to search for employees who are working in the same position for rival companies. More often than not, they will possess the relevant skill set you are looking for.
  • Using Recommendations
    LinkedIn will give you candidate recommendations based on second or third party connections via your immediate contacts. Members of LinkedIn can also write notes of recommendations for each other, so search for prospective employees that have recommendations from people you trust.
Step 3: Contact Them via Inmail or Email

The main mode of communication with your prospective employee is the internal inbox on LinkedIn, Inmail. You can craft a standard introductory Inmail template to guide your recruiter. However, it is important to have some levels of personalisation so that it would not seem like you copied and pasted the inmail.

A few other tips for your introductory inmail:

  • Keep it brief, maximum six sentences long
  • Try to find common interests from their social media profiles to build synergy
  • Talk about them, not you. Share about what they can benefit and how they can grow.
Step 4: Build Your Recruiter’s LinkedIn Network

On LinkedIn, there are members from all 500 of the Fortune 500 companies, people from 130 different industries, and over 100,000 recruiters. This poses a great opportunity to increase your candidate pool and create a referral chain. To successfully get quality referrals, you will need to build strong and authentic relationships with your network. This may mean going beyond virtual conversations and making the effort to meet them face to face on a regular basis.

Step 5: Connect with former, trustworthy colleagues for potential future employment

Identify the people who have worked for you for a long time and have made valuable contributions to the company. The key to networking is to build long-term, strategic relationships. By staying connected with them on LinkedIn and you never know if they might come back as your next star employee or refer you to one.

Step 6: Join LinkedIn Groups

Groups are a great way to network with like-minded individuals who share your interests, profession or industry. Participants of the group may be your next potential employee. Even if they are not, they might know of someone else who will be a good fit for the job!


To sum off, digital technology can never completely replace the human aspect in recruitment, but staying on top of digital trends in today’s digital economy can help you find the right hire and ultimately save time and cash for your business.

p/s: If you believe that digital technology can boost hiring for your business, take a step further by using it to generate sales! We offer our readers an exclusive one-hour digital marketing crash-course, reserve your spot by clicking here.