Don’t just rely on one recruitment website if you want to advertise a job opening at your business. Be sure to get the word out on multiple platforms. And don’t forget word of mouth. That’s one of the best ways to find top candidates when you’re looking to hire a new employee. Start with your current employees and vendors. Give them your job posting and ask if they know of anyone who may be a good fit. Then, up your game on platforms like LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to pay for a little advertising to get your job posting in front of more people. Finally, make sure your business’s reputation is solid. Check out Glassdoor and other reputation websites and see if there are complaints. Be sure to respond to them professionally and then set course to remedy those issues.

Why Advertising Your Job Opening Isn’t Always Easy

Finding new employees to hire isn’t so simple for a small business. With national unemployment dipping toward 4% — a 17-year low — the most common strategies for recruiting talent may not pan out as well as they used to.

Internet job boards and LinkedIn alone may be effective recruitment tools when the talent pools are filled with people eagerly seeking employment. But today’s ultra-tight labor market calls for companies to be more creative in their hunt for eligible hires.

This is especially true for small businesses. A January 2018 survey by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 89% of small companies trying to hire struggled to fill open positions because they had few or no qualified applicants. Of the business owners surveyed, 22% named the difficulty of finding qualified workers as their top business problem.

“Finding qualified workers now exceeds taxes and regulations as the top concern for small businesses,” says NFIB President and CEO Juanita Duggan in the report.

The problem: Small businesses don’t have the name recognition or large human resources staff common among larger corporations. Moreover, they often can’t compete on salary and traditional benefits like health insurance and retirement plans — thus losing talented workers and job candidates to their larger competitors. (There can also be the perception among job seekers that small companies don’t offer the same growth opportunities as Fortune 500 companies.)

So, what’s a small business to do? How do you broaden your search beyond the old standbys like Internet job boards? Read on to find the best ways to advertise your job opening.

21 Ways to Advertise Your Job Opening

1. Connect With Local College Students

Colleges and universities do more than just host career fairs these days. Many are proactive to help their students and soon-to-be graduates find jobs and internships.

It’s worth reaching out to the academic counselors and leaders of the departments that you would want to hire from, preferably at least a few months before you need to fill a position. They may already know someone who’s a great fit for your opening or put you into a database of local employers looking to hire.

A 2014 survey featured in Harvard Business Review found that millennials care about a company’s culture more than any other attribute, and are most persuaded by social referrals — what their friends think — when deciding where to work. So it’s very important to build a reputation on campus as a rewarding and fun place to work.

Consider building connections among students in the fields you need to hire from and showcasing the success of young employees. See if you can join a panel about the future of your industry or have a profile written about your company in the student newspaper — whatever you can do to build awareness of your company as a great place to work among students.

2. Use LinkedIn to Network With Professional Contacts

Social media also is a good way to mine your professional network for job candidates. LinkedIn is the best social network for spreading the word about a job. Of course you can post a paid ad on LinkedIn. But you can also use it to network with your connections to recruit job candidates for free. First, you can browse your connections to see if there’s anyone you overlooked who might know a job seeker or be able to tell others about your hiring search. You can message these people directly on LinkedIn. Second, post about the job opening in the newsfeed of your company page. If you don’t already have a company page, create one by going to your LinkedIn account and clicking the work icon on the bar at the top of the page. Scroll all the way down to “create company page” and click the plus sign. From there, you’ll be directed through setting up the page. You can use the page to publish updates and news about your company and to publicize any future job openings. Finally, you can post about the job as a status update on your personal LinkedIn profile.

3. Ask Your Vendors If They Know Any Candidates

Many small business owners might not think of chatting about job openings with vendors. But vendors often have many connections and can be a great source of employee referrals. Ask the small business owners you do business with if they know of anyone who might be a good fit for your job opening. For example, your accountant, your web designer or your consultant might know the perfect candidate.

4. Attend In-Person Events to Spread the Word in Your Industry

Are you going to any upcoming trade shows, industry meetings or events for local business owners? While this tactic isn’t absolutely necessary if you shy away from in-person networking, it can be an excellent way to let others in your industry know about the job. At these events, keep an eye out for professionals who might know a candidate or for attendees who might be candidates, even if they currently have a job. Chat with people about their careers, keeping your ears and eyes open for answers that impress you. Collect a business card from anyone who catches your attention so you can keep in touch.

5. Connect With Local College Alumni Groups

Your college outreach shouldn’t stop with current students, though. Local colleges and universities are also a rich source of alumni referrals. For many institutions, “career development” support also includes resources for alumni, not only for current students.

Alumni associations or clubs with members who graduated in a particular field, such as engineering or marketing, often have networking events, job boards, and other opportunities for local employers to get the word out about job openings.

6. Start an Internship Program

Consider hiring unskilled or partially skilled workers and teaching them the skills they need to build a career at your company. This approach offers benefits: You can hire more entry-level positions and ingrain those employees in your company culture and practices. Then you can promote them as they improve.

Offering summer internships to local college students getting degrees in career fields your business wants to tap can be a win-win: The student gets valuable real-world career experience and you get to test drive a potential hire. Find interns through your local colleges or even try placing an ad on Craigslist or another local job board.

7. Start an Apprentice Program

Techtonic Group Inc., a software development firm in Boulder, Colorado, plans to take on 40 apprentices this year. The company looks for people with transferable skills from other industries and then trains them on the specific skills needed to perform various roles at the company. One place the company looks for prospective hires: the local Verizon store. “They’re trained in the soft skills of customer service but they also have some technical training,” founder Heather Terenzio told The Wall Street Journal.

8. Turn Your Company’s Website Into a Recruitment Tool

Your website is a one-stop place where people learn about your business and your culture, and it may make or break your reputation among prospective hires.

Make sure it has information that prospective job applicants would care about — including information about your business’s culture, workplace practices, and the employee benefits you offer. You might even post short profiles of current employees, featuring how they’ve progressed at your business and why they like working there.

Post any job openings on your website and make sure it’s easy for people to apply for those jobs, whether through an online application or by providing an email address to the person who oversees hiring.

9. Embrace Your Glassdoor Profile

Glassdoor is best known as the site where current and former employees leave reviews and salary information about the companies they work for. It’s increasingly becoming a recruitment tool as well, allowing employers to post jobs and promote the benefits of working for their companies.

Embrace the site by building out your business’s profile, such as writing an overview that explains your mission and values and why you’re a great company to work for. You can include benefits information and photos. Encourage your employees to leave reviews so you have a robust profile — and hopefully several flattering reviews — on Glassdoor.

10. Tap Your Former Employees

Your former employees may be your best recruiters, assuming they left on good terms and still work in the industry. When you have a position to fill, reach out to those former employees to see if they know anyone who might be a good fit. They may at least be willing to reach out to their network about the opening.

11. Build An Attractive Company Culture

Your company’s reputation as an employer can make or break your success in finding talent. If young job seekers hear that you, say, offer career-building opportunities such as on-the-job training or regularly promote your workers, you’re going to be more attractive to them. If you are considered the most fun company to work for, that will only help you attract people looking for a positive work environment.

12. Look Beyond Standard Online Job Boards

Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder are three well-known job posting sites. But they’re not the only game in town anymore. Job posting sites that offer more advanced and customizable features may provide you with better candidate leads. ZipRecruiter, for example, lets you add prescreen interview questions to ensure you’re getting applications or inquiries from qualified candidates. It also sends your job ads out to more than 100 job sites across the Internet and creates postings on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. It allows you to consolidate your applicants in one platform and identify those that most closely meet your needs.

13. Consider Candidates You Liked, but Didn’t Hire Before

If your company is well established, chances are you’ve interviewed people for positions before and had to turn them down. And maybe some of them were impressive, but you ended up hiring someone else or didn’t feel they were a right fit for the position you were filling. Any previous candidates you liked could be a good fit for an opening today, and may be worth reaching out to for a current opening.

14. Think About Companies’ Employees You’ve Dealt With

It’s become a dog-eat-dog world when it comes to hiring, and you may run across some very talented people at other companies you interact with. It could be your suppliers, your vendors, your competitors — or anyplace, really. Think about people you’ve met that have the right skills and personality for your company. They may just be looking for a new opportunity.

15. Connect With Vocational Schools and Their Alumni Networks

Don’t just consider major colleges and universities. Many vocational colleges provide hands-on training to their students in particular trades, whether accounting, computer programming or interior design. And these colleges may even better prepare their students for their careers than large colleges, by encouraging internships, apprenticeships and other real-world training. Most trade and vocational schools have alumni networks along with job boards for their upcoming graduates and alumni.

16. Seek Referrals From Current Employees

Large companies have used this strategy for a long time, knowing that their current employees can sometimes be the best source of qualified candidates. (Many even offer a referral bonus to employees for recommending someone for a position who ultimately gets hired.) Consider tapping your current employees for potential candidates and look at ways to incentivize them to give you leads, whether that’s a monetary bonus or an extra perk.

17. Hire A Professional Headhunter

Depending on the position you’re trying to fill — and how hard it is to find qualified leads — you may need to bring in a professional recruiter. Yes, they cost money and may charge either a flat fee or a percentage of the hire’s total first year of earnings, such as 15 percent to 25 percent. But for certain key positions that seem impossible to find strong candidates for, it may be worth the price.

18.Audition Candidates Through Temp Agencies

Most temporary agencies today offer temp-to-hire positions. This essentially means that if the temporary employee does a good job, they could be considered for a full-time job at the company they temped for. While temporary agencies do charge fees, it can be a good way to connect with potential job candidates and audition them before making the leap to hiring someone officially.

19. Consider Local High School Students

You may think you need to hire only college grads. But for entry-level positions, you might well find that a high schooler will serve your needs — especially if the position’s hours are flexible and can be worked around their school schedule. High schools may have job counselors who can help connect you to students or place a job ad.

20. Consider Freelancers You’ve Worked With — Or Come Highly Recommended

Not everyone who does freelance work wants to remain a freelancer. They may be seeking a full-time job and salary that meets their need and eager to jump at the right opportunity. Look at freelancers you’ve worked with in the past or reach out to your connections that work with freelancers to find potential people worth approaching about a job opening.

21. Make Connections Through Volunteering

If you volunteer for a cause, you very well might encounter talented people worth hiring. Always be on the lookout for people who would be a good fit for your company’s culture and positions — you may find them in unlikely places.

In today’s hot job market, small businesses have to work harder than ever to find and attract applicants. They have to show the benefits of working for their company over all the other companies out there trying to hire. It’s a good time to think about how to improve your recruiting techniques in the months and years ahead.