Finding Skilled Professionals Remains a Challenge for Small Businesses

By Jason Bramwell
 
What's the greatest challenge for small business owners when it comes to hiring and managing staff? For 60 percent of business owners who were recently surveyed by Robert Half, finding skilled professionals for the job is the biggest hiring hurdle.
 
Other hiring challenges facing the more than 300 small business owners and managers surveyed include maintaining employee morale and productivity (19 percent), managing difficult employees (8 percent), and retaining staff (7 percent).
 
"Large corporations often have established brand recognition and larger human resources budgets, which can provide an advantage when attracting talent," Paul McDonald, Robert Half senior executive director, said in a written statement. "But small businesses may appeal to professionals who want to acquire a variety of experiences and move up quickly. These companies can level the playing field in their recruiting efforts by highlighting what makes their cultures unique and emphasizing opportunities for skills development."
 
Four Hiring Tips for Small Business Owners 
Robert Half Chairman and CEO Max Messmer, author of Human Resources Kit for Dummies, 3rd Edition, offers the following four tips from his book to help small business owners enhance their recruiting efforts and position themselves as employers of choice:
 
1. Make your company stand out. Small businesses offer advantages that larger companies cannot match. Emphasize the potential for new hires to wear multiple hats and advance quickly. Also, highlight the benefits of working with a small, close-knit group, which may be less common at bigger corporations.
 
2. Have an accurate job description. The description of your open position should be specific and identify the must-haves for the job. If a description is too broad or doesn't adequately convey the position's requirements, you run the risk of receiving an overabundance of resumes from unqualified candidates. It's better to have five applicants who definitely deserve an interview than a hundred who don't.
 
3. Network. Participate in local professional association or community groups to build your personal network. Also, ask your existing employees to provide referrals. Employees tend to recommend strong candidates because they don't want to tarnish their reputation by recommending professionals who are unequipped for the job.
 
4. Work with recruiters. Professional staffing firms can significantly reduce the amount of time it takes to find a qualified applicant. Look for ones that specialize in the field for which you're hiring. For example, if you're hiring an accountant, work with a firm that specializes in filling accounting and finance roles.
 
About the survey:
The survey, which was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm, is based on interviews with more than 300 small business owners and managers from a stratified random sample of US companies with fewer than 100 employees.
 
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