Hiring? Small businesses have advantages now. Here’s how to optimize them

You have the business, you have the production, but you don’t have the people to make it all happen. Is this your business?

Imagine you’ve landed a big government contracts but you can’t find enough workers to execute on it. Right now, the talent shortage is affecting companies globally. In Q4 alone, 15 million Americans resigned, and it’s why it is called the Great Resignation, and it is continuing, said Kiomara Hildago, a business consultant at Florida SBDC at FIU, the small business development center within Florida International University’s College of Business.

As a small or medium company, you compete with larger companies that can offer higher pay and more benefits, but don’t throw in the towel just yet.  Small businesses are attracting and retaining talent by leveraging advantages that large corporations don’t have, and offering attractive lures that big companies can’t necessarily match.

As Hildalgo explained, millennials and Genz workers are most interested in the culture of the company. They want to feel valued, they want flexibility and they want work-life balance, she said.

“If that is not in place, you will not be able to attract these workers,” said Hildago, who specializes in human resources. “This generation isn’t about the 9-5 mentality. In this area, small business have a significant advantage.“

The good news is these smaller businesses can leverage their offering against the money and benefits tht larger entities offer.

It’s frustrating, positions take longer to fill now. As businesses, we have to be conscious that the market has shifted – it’s an employee market, Hildalgo said. We have to be more creative in the way we target and attract people, she said, and meet them where they are. That often means social media is more effective than traditional recruiting channels.

“Believe it or not, a lot of recruiting happens in Tiktok,” she said. In your recruiting video, you need to convey why it is so exciting for them to come work for you.”

The Great Recession is also a time when Boomers and even GenXers are retiring, perhaps spurred by the pandemic.

“We have to adapt. We have to have flexibility. And to be quite honest, work at home is here to stay,” Hildalgo said.

What can small businesses do to build flexibility so those workers stay with you? That’s also key become recruiting is expensive and time intensive, and since the pandemic, the market has favored the employee.

An employee’s job market

It’s about the culture of the company and having an inclusive work environment where people can be themselves, she said.. “Companies that are agile enough to adapt, they are having the most success.”

Some tips from Hildalgo:

  • For the interviewer, make a good first impression. Be on time, be ready to engage. Candidates have to feel they can connect eiwht the organization. That will be detrimental to the process.
  • Before the interview, provide instructions on email where to park, where to meet, what to expect in the interview process, agenda for the day, etc. Make it easy for them.
  • Provide robust opportunities for growth and development.
  • Highlight the impact an employee can make by working at your company.
  • Make your company’s unique culture a selling point.
  • Show respect to the candidate with a timely response after the interview, even if the answer is no.

Colleges are a good source of talent and recruiting through events and on-campus interviews, and also  for internships, where students can get a chance to wear many hats. How do you make it attractive for them? Let them know they can be more than a task performer, Hildago said

The interview and selection process

It’s a good idea to phone-screen a candidate first, That saves both of you time.

For the main interview, ask behavioral based questions, such as tell me about a time you dealt with a difficult client and how you resolved it? Or give me an example of a time when you had to conform to a policy about which you did not agree? Or tell me about a time you failed?

Make sure it is a structured interview process, with a set of standardized questions asked to all applicants.

Having a detailed job description is critical. People want to see the job, how enriching the job is and what is expected of them. And for the employer, its not only having a good culture but it is about finding the right candidate for the culture. You are looking to ensure that they match the organization culture and can fit in.

Always compere the candidate qualifications to the job  description. Attitude is likely more important than technical abilities. Can he or she learn and grow on the job?

Once hired, onboarding of new employees in the right way is also important. People want an orientation to the company and to be introduced to the colleagues. This is the time to set the right expectations of the job.

You can get more great advice in the webinar here:

Additional tips

A recent Wall Street Journal article also reinforced the importance of touting your small business culture, flexibility, etc. Here are some additional tips from the report.

Use searchable job titles: At many small companies, employees wear lots of hats, so they often have more flexibility when it comes to creating titles. But what you call a role — at least externally — can impact your ability to attract candidates.

Move quickly: When small businesses find the applicant they like, move fast. Leverage your ability to make quick decisions — because a slow process creates space for other companies to snap that person up,

Consider more entry-level hiring: Given how hard it is to find candidates, small businesses may want to consider shifting their focus, taking on interns and entry-level level candidates who can grow into various roles.

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