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How Small Businesses Can Gain Advantages in a Tough Hiring Environment

A group of people work together to pack reusable bags and cardboard boxes on a table.

Hiring new employees in the current job environment is challenging, especially for small businesses. You’re competing against large corporations for talent, and Goliath can often have the upper hand with any number of advantages: higher compensation, expanded benefits, and career growth opportunities, to name a few.

But as a small business there’s one advantage you can seize that’s harder for big corporations to match: the ability to provide employees with meaning from work with purpose, impact, and community.

If you’re reading this blog, you’re likely already there or on your way — a small business that’s incorporating social and environmental impact into its operating model. And that’s a good thing when fighting the recruiting wars; current research supports findings that professionals, particularly younger generations, are strongly attracted to working for companies that share their values and enable them to activate personal impact in their workplace. (Indeed, this article from the Harvard Business Review concludes that 9 of 10 employees will trade a percentage of their lifetime earnings in exchange for meaningful work.)

Since much of the hiring game happens online these days, we thought we’d point you in the direction of digital water holes where job searchers motivated by purpose hang out. These sites serve as “match-makers” between impact organizations and talent. You might find your next team member at one of these sites or perhaps these resources and their messaging will help hone your recruiting pitch. Happy hunting!

One Work

Here’s a new startup with an innovative new spin: Instead of focusing solely on matching necessary skills and compensation requirements, One Work adds other compelling factors into the hiring process: company culture, impact, and cause orientation, etc. Jobs are organized by mission to make it easy to find your meaning: education, poverty, renewable energy — you get the idea. The intent is to help people realize their potential and make a difference, while ensuring a better and longer-lasting fit between the candidate and the employer. One Work also drinks the Kool-Aid — it is a public benefit corporation.


Are you an environmental impact company using your business model to positively affect the climate or working specifically on climate solutions as a primary emphasis? You might just find your next teammate on Climatebase, a hyper-targeted jobs platform that’s mobilizing talent for a climate-friendly world. Since its launch in 2020, more than 500,000 people have applied for jobs with 3,000 climate-tech companies and environmental nonprofits. Its Climatebase Weekly newsletter reaches 35,000 subscribers twice a week.

Work for Impact

Okay, so maybe you’re going uber-flexible these days and don’t need a full-time employee. In that case, Work for Impact might be just the ticket. Work for Impact is a purpose-powered, on-demand talent platform designed to help social enterprises (both for-profit and non-profit) find freelance talent on an as-needed basis. What’s even better is the freelancers are looking to work with like-minded organizations, which is great because who knows — perhaps today’s freelancer is tomorrow’s full-time team member. Work for Impact is also a certified B Corporation.

80,000 Hours

This site scores points for creativity that’s rooted in science. 80,000 Hours takes its name from the number of hours a person typically works in their career. (Eight hours at a time, right?) Well, if there’s one way to make those hours fly, it’s by carving out a career path of impact that’s fulfilling beyond a paycheck by making the most of those 4.8 million minutes units. The 80,000 Hours methodology for achieving maximum job satisfaction was developed alongside scientists at Cambridge in the U.K. The site offers lots of resources: career guides, a job board, and a community aspect.


Here’s an interesting landing pad for people seeking meaning through their work, which means it’s another good resource for employers seeking purpose-driven talent. goodgigs uses an active newsletter subscriber base, serving up weekly emails with job listings, with distribution on Google Jobs to help match employers with talent that 1.) cares about your cause and 2.) shares your values. This covers freelance assignments, full-time gigs, or remote employment. The service also has a cool feature that allows you to post a video for your job opportunity.

B Work

B Work bills itself as the “World’s Largest Impact Job Site.” B Work connects purpose-driven jobseekers with positions at social enterprises, typically certified B Corps, who are using business as a force for good. It has an interesting feature called “Dream Jobs Alert.” This enables a person to search the site for dream companies and positions, which the site will then alert you to if one of these dream position becomes available. B Work is a partnership between B Lab, the nonprofit overseeing the B Corp movement, and Fitzii, a hiring platform.

Escape the City

Bonus points here for creativity in naming. Escape the City is a community of a half-million purpose-driven “escapees” from traditional workplaces. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, many of its job offerings are located there or internationally, with a few in the U.S. We included it because it’s a cool site –  and for its just-released The Escape 100, a list of the top purpose-driven companies to “escape to.” Check out the companies on the list; they could serve as a blueprint for you to shape a workplace that attracts impact-oriented humans. 


Purpose-oriented people are out there looking for you; you just need to figure out how to make the connection. Here are a few takeaways and tips to help you find the right people to propel your growth.

  • Make certain to define and articulate your purpose clearly, along with your impact focus (poverty, climate action, human rights, etc.). This helps attract the right candidates.
  • Promote your purpose — on your website, especially, and in your social media. When you’re trying to attract purpose-oriented people, they must believe that purpose is primary to your organization and not just a side-gig.
  • Speaking of which: Job hunters today can sniff greenwashing a mile away. It helps to formalize your impact via a credible third party: Certify as a B Corp, restructure as a legal benefit corporation, adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), join an industry trusted group (e.g., Green Business Council).
  • Don’t forget that this same value proposition of providing meaning through impactful work also holds true for employee retention.
  • Lastly, measure your impact on an ongoing basis (great for benchmarking and performance improvement) and publish an impact report to transparently communicate that you’re making positive change — you’re the real deal.