I was reminded, again, the other day, that the best recruiter for a small business is an engaged and valued employee.
Big businesses rarely have the opportunity to convert a customer into an employee. Even Starbucks has become a poster company for poor customer service stemming from poor employee experience. Small businesses, however, have a daily opportunity to check both their customer service and their recruiting brand. Just ask your customers if they would like to work for you.
I was interviewing a prospective employee for a client company and asked why she had applied for the position. She said it was because she had had such a great customer experience with the company from the first time she shopped there that she told herself that, should she ever want to re-enter the workforce, she would want to work for my client. Imagine the power of that word of mouth in your community, 'I loved shopping there so much that I went to work there.' Note to prospective employees: Don't forget that business owners are proud of their companies (even when they shouldn't be!). If you have had a good experience as a customer, tell them, it can't hurt your chances.
As a recruiter you want to find out what your clients' current employees think about working there, what works, what doesn't. Your candidates are going to find out the ugly truth soon enough and you'll be paying back that big signing check when they exit before your guarantee runs out. If the customer has retail operations, go check them out. Buy something. If you have a great shopping experience you can probably recommend the company to your talent pool.
Too often businesses separate the customer and the employee experience. Managers fail to understand the fundamental link between great customer loyalty and great employee engagement. Great small businesses can achieve a truly outstanding result, effective employees and happy customers, if they understand thet they can be the same person.