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recruitment word cloudIf there’s one thing all startups have in common, it’s an obsession with growth. And when it comes to growing your small business or company, what’s the first thing you should invest in? The answer is probably the same no matter what industry you’re in: top talent.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. Job seekers are everywhere—it’s getting your job post in front of the right applicants that’s the challenge. Before you get started, here are the best tips for finding the right employees to join your team.

1. Determine if you can really afford a new hire
You need to do your research if you want to find the absolute best candidate to fill a position. You probably know how you want the position to help your business, but does the cost outweigh the benefits?

For example, research the average salary range for this position in your city. (Glassdoor is an easy place to do this.) In order to hire the best person for the job, you need to be financially prepared to offer a salary somewhere within (or even above) this range. Other costs to consider are the equipment you’ll need to buy for the new hire, the benefits you’ll offer with their hiring package, and the time and resources that will need to be spent training them.

After determining the potential costs of hiring someone new, have a clear picture of the benefits, too. How much can you expect this person to bring in in terms of revenue? Will they take some existing burden off your current employees? Will they be there to bring on new clients, or manage existing relationships? Big picture: what’s your potential ROI in hiring them?

If your benefits outweigh your costs, now is a great time to move forward with the hiring process.

2. Strengthen your brand as an employer
Your employer brand is vital in the recruiting process. Eventually, your applicants will have to sell you on their skills and experience. But first, you have to sell them on your company.

A good start in appealing to potential employees is having a company name that they recognize. Perfecting your brand means you’ll be able to attract top talent and keep up with competitors. The more excited applicants are about potentially working for your company, the better.

You can start improving your brand image and visibility by harnessing the power of content marketing. Blogging with authority is a great way to establish yourself as an industry leader. If you’re still working on your own website’s SEO, consider posting a few articles on Medium that link back to your company page. Also, use your company’s social media accounts to appeal to new hires by emphasizing your desirable company culture.

Even if applicants haven’t heard of your company before stumbling upon your job ad, the more information they can find out about you, the better. Expect that a job applicant is automatically going to research your company’s website, blog, and social media presence. If that’s the case, what would you want them to find? Now, take it from there.

3. Don’t be afraid to get visual
Especially if you’re hiring a graphic designer or other creative position, nothing is more exciting than a visually-compelling job ad. You know those infographics you see all over blogs and social media? Think of putting together a job ad in the same way. Make it cohesive and visually striking, and consider outsourcing the job to a freelancer if you have to.

After putting together your visual job ad, consider the various spots you could post it. It belongs on your website’s careers page, for sure, but also on social media. Instagram and Pinterest are the most visual of the popular social media platforms, and it wouldn’t totally be out of place on LinkedIn, either.

4. Be completely transparent
This goes for both what the job entails, and what you’re looking for in terms of personality. Finding someone that fits within your company culture is just as important as hiring someone for talent. So be open about what working for you will really be like, as well as your overall expectations for the position.

Don’t mislead your job applicants with buzzwords that don’t have anything to do with the actual position. If this job isn’t for everyone, be clear about that. You may get fewer applicants—and that’s good! Intentionally decreasing your pool means you can spend more time evaluating each applicant. It also helps weed out bad fits before they even bother applying.

5. Post on niche boards
Staying in the vein of intentionally decreasing your applicant pool, it’s a good idea to post to niche job boards that are only meant for people in your industry, or in the department you’re hiring for. For example, Mediabistro is a good place to look for writers, while GitHub is great for finding web developers. Do some research on the best niche job posting sites for this industry, and target those instead of the bigger, general job boards.

6. Appeal to people who don’t know they want a new job—yet
Finally, the best potential employees are often the ones who already have a job. They might not even consider taking on a new job—unless the right opportunity came along.

The best way to find these people is through social media. Search LinkedIn to make connections with talented people in your industry; once you’ve made connections, send them a personal message noting your interest in speaking with them about a potential opportunity. It might be more time-intensive than other recruiting tactics, but it also might be the most effective.

Meredith Wood is the Editor-in-Chief at Fundera, an online marketplace for small business loans that matches business owners with the best funding providers for their business.

Want more tips and advice from Fundera? Read "Five ways to market your business on a shoestring budget" today.

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