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How to Find Qualified Applicants When on a Limited Budget

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Employees are the heart and soul of any successful company. You need skilled workers to execute tasks without error, keep the business afloat, and encourage brand loyalty with exceptional customer service. Keep reading to find qualified applicants on a limited budget.

If you hire the wrong employee, the consequences can range from mildly inconvenient to severely detrimental. They might turn loyal patrons away with a bad customer experience, require extensive training on basic processes, or make an expensive mistake that digs deep into your bottom line—none of which are good for business.

Find qualified applicants is essential, but that’s easier said than done when you’re working with a tight budget. This places small business owners up against a tough challenge; their Big Corp competitors have deep pockets with endless recruitment resources, in addition to dedicated HR professionals on-staff who are trained in the art of recruiting top talent.

So, is all hope lost? Not necessarily; you don’t need to resign your fate and settle for mediocre employees. Here’s how you can find qualified talent on a limited budget for sound hiring decisions you feel confident in.

  • Ask around for references

The cheapest way to recruit is by word of mouth. Ask your friends, family, and professional network about whether they might know of anyone with experience in your field who is looking for work. You might not be able to take their word as concrete truth, but their referral could be more reliable than a stranger’s reference.

If you have existing staff members, you can also ask them for referrals. They likely know better than anyone what the job takes, and they’ll feel personally invested in your hiring decision—which could motivate them to work harder to lead by example, or take on training initiatives so they know their recruit fulfills his or her potential as promised.

  • Advertise on social media
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If you don’t want to blur the lines of business with family, and would rather avoid extending a job offer to your little cousin Jimmy, then announce the job opening on your company’s social media. Those who see and respond to the ad are probably followers of the account, meaning they support your company, follow its news, and have probably made a purchase in the past.

They’ll be familiar with your business model, but more importantly, they’ll relish the opportunity to get their foot in the door of a company they love—and a happy employee, is a hardworking employee.


  • Host a competition

Another budget-friendly recruitment strategy you can do on social media is hosting a competition that draws top talent. For example, let’s say you’re looking to hire a web designer. You might announce a competition on Instagram that calls for the submission of reimagined brand logos, with the winning prize of free products or a public shout-out.

While there may only be a few winners, you might draw hundreds of submissions from qualified job applicants who clearly have time on their hands, suggesting they might be available for hire.

  • Use free classifieds

If you have to go to the job boards, start with free classified sites before paying an expensive monthly subscription for professional recruitment services. Although the latter might match you with more qualified leads, you can still find qualified applicants on sites like Craigslist by clearly listing the minimum requirements within the job description.

Not all candidates will necessarily read the instructions, and you might have to sort through resumes to see who matches the criteria. Will it require more time than a paid-for service? Yes, but it will also save you a lot of money along the way.

  • Screen every applicant
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Professional recruiters take steps to verify the accuracy of a candidate’s reported skills, experience, and certifications; small business owners can achieve the same peace of mind with pre-employment screening.

You may be surprised to know that employment screening isn’t always as expensive as you think—in fact, you can even do it yourself if you’re willing to put in the grunt work. But you can also order a free criminal background check that provides insight into an applicant’s past, so you can trust that they actually are who they claim to be.

With these low-cost recruitment strategies, you’ll be able to find qualified candidates on the dime. Happy hiring!

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