Attracting Management Talent for Middle Market Companies



The economy has growth, and the job market is better now than it has been in years. Finding top talent has never been an easy proposition, but with startup companies filled with perks like indoor basketball courts and catered lunches, and the salaries afforded by larger companies, how do you compete? The National Center for the Middle Market said that it is a “significant challenge” to both bring in new talent and retain current employees for “the vast majority” of middle-market businesses. Of the companies polled, three out of four CEOs said that issues with talent were either “highly” or “somewhat challenging”.


While it is difficult to recruit from the top down, high level management is currently one of the most difficult areas to bring in the right people and to keep them. Small businesses, personal entrepreneurship, and tech startups are exciting, have incredible room for creativity and wild growth. The energy, flexibility, and potential for greatness are very appealing to some. On the other hand, large firms have stability, well-known names look great on a resume, and the financial resources are often there to drive higher salaries for top talent.


In a mid-market business, the best way to to attract talent is often to walk the line between the two. While there are limitations fiscally to big benefits packages and robots you can play ping-pong against, pulling wisdom and tactics from both sides of the market surrounding you is the best way to give candidates a mixture of stability and excitement, perks and office camaraderie that today’s job market is looking for.


  • Consider a unique brand for your company. If your middle-market firm does not have a clear inward, employee-facing brand, a strong voice, and firm company values, it is harder for the outsider to see the appeal or differentiate your company from other companies in their job search. Know what you believe in, what the day-to-day attitude of your office is, what your business is striving for. Only then can you sell the ideals to a newcomer. From the report: “Firms with a solid reputation that offer unique benefits and rewards experience greater success in securing top talent.”


  • Have strong, structured “employee value propositions”. An employee value proposition is the mix of benefits, company culture, and method of working. It is, in essence, a deal that is struck between the employer and the employee, the roster of non-monetary benefits that a company rewards all employees with in return for their contributions and performance. According to the Corporate Leadership Council’s research, a well-thought through and executed EVP can:
  • Improve the commitment of new hires by up to 29%
  • Reduce new hire compensation premiums by up to 50%
  • Increase the likelihood of employees acting as advocates from an average of 24% to 47%
  •  EVPs can range from company-organized social events like happy hours of board game nights, to instituting a creative brainstorming suggestion process that promises employees their ideas will be heard. One of the best EVPs out there right now is the paid vacation before starting. Bring a new candidate on board, but have them take one or two weeks paid leave between their former employers and you. This gives you an employee who is excited and refreshed, clear of all previous burn-out, and can be an immediate deal-closer for top talent in a job interview. The opportunity to relax and recoup before starting a new job is worth it’s weight in gold for some interviewees.


  • For a great candidate, there is more to a job than a salary. Passive candidates are those who are simply looking for a better title and better pay, not looking for new opportunities to learn and grow within a company. For the passionate, top talent in the market, growth opportunity, promotions, and a work/life balance showed to be bigger motivators than a larger salary. To be competitive, take a look at your company, and see if your structure is conducive to those three things. If it isn’t, you may need to restructure some things in your organization to appeal to and retain the best candidates.

Make sure your candidates know why are you unique, and why the middle-market is unique. Emphasize your distinctive benefits. Do you offer sabbatical leave after seven years of work? Make sure people know that! Do you offer wellness perks for a healthier staff? Put it in your documentation! Do you have offices in more desirable locales and allow for transfers? Make that known as well. Do your staff get along well and welcome newcomers as part of the family? Do you have the stability of a major company, with the electric growth potential of a startup? According to the organization: “the quality of a company’s associates, meaningfulness of the work, and the company culture are leading components of effective” employee value proposition.