Finding and retaining talent can be a challenge for small business owners, especially amid a nationwide hiring frenzy when many companies are competing for the same top talent.

To help entrepreneurs grow their teams during the ongoing workforce shortage, CO—’s latest Start. Run. Grow. event highlighted current best practices in recruiting and managing great employees.

Start: Seek out and support employees with growth potential

Traci Tapani, Co-President of Wyoming Machine, encourages business owners to seek candidates who not only have the necessary skills and qualifications, but who also have the potential to grow and learn.

“I look for opportunities where people are learning as a normal part of their life — [even if] that’s through just hobbies that they have,” she explained. “When I can see that on a resume, or I can bring that out during an interview, it gives me a lot more confidence that they can be a continuous learner on the job.”

Business owners can also support existing talent by offering benefits, including parity in wage increases and flexible work schedules. She also stressed the importance of building relationships and communicating openly with employees.

“[My employees] know they could tell me virtually anything, as far as troubles they’re having at work,” Tapani said. “That kind of dialogue has given me the opportunity, as the owner, to fix those problems.”

[Read more: 4 Smart Enhanced Employee Benefits To Kickstart Recruiting]

Run: Optimize your hiring process to find the right fit

As the Vice President of Employee Experience at, Danielle Beckford focuses on helping companies make informed decisions around recruitment and retention, which begins with the right job ad.

Beckford recommends companies keep their candidate-facing job ads short — between 300-500 words — and highlight must-have qualifications, the day-to-day work, and what benefits the company offers. When it comes to putting salary in the job description, she believes the decision is up to each company, though the trend is moving toward pay transparency.

“You have to make sure internal equity is a tight-run ship before you post salaries,” Beckford emphasized. For example, a job posting for a junior-level position should not have the same salary as a current senior-level employee.

“You have to make sure internal equity is a tight-run ship before you post salaries,” Beckford emphasized. For example, a job posting for a junior-level position should not have the same salary as a current senior-level employee.

At the interview stage, Beckford explained different types of interviewing and the information they yield. Competency-based interviewing focuses on specific skills required for the job, while behavioral interviewing involves real-life situations and examples to back up those skill sets.

When it comes to cultural fit, Beckford shared one of her favorite questions to ask: “Tell me about the best manager that you’ve had in your career, and why [that] relationship was so successful.”

“You’ll learn a lot [from that question],” she explained. “You’ll learn how that person [defines] success, what kind of culture [they are] looking for, [...] their work preferences, and how they work with people.”

[Read more: 10 Interview Questions to Ask Entry-Level Job Candidates]

Grow: Support the development and retention of a diverse workforce

When it comes to attracting and nurturing top talent, creating equal opportunities for employees of diverse backgrounds is critical — both from a moral and a business perspective.

“For a long time, a diversity strategy [...] has been seen as a recruiting strategy,” said Rosanna Durruthy, Vice President of Global Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging at LinkedIn. “But when we think about diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, you’re really looking at central components to an organization’s environment [and] culture.”

Durruthy highlighted three components of a successful approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI): setting expectations for everyone involved, providing the necessary education and training, and fostering accountability.

A well-considered, well-implemented DEI strategy often reaps a significant return on investment. With the right tools and resources, a candidate with untapped potential can become a top performer within a company.

“We as leaders sometimes presume that individuals aren’t equipped — and yet the difference between being ready [or not ready] is an opportunity,” Durruthy stressed. “[And] the difference between fulfilling that opportunity is having [...] someone who supports you and believes wholeheartedly in you.”

[Read more: Crafting a Diversity Strategy That Drives Real Results]

Catch up on our previous Start. Run. Grow. events here.