Small business owners are optimistic about their businesses and plan to invest and expand as a result, according to a July 2018 survey report from the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB). Despite optimism, there are still struggles that business owners must tackle. Attracting and retaining qualified individuals for positions is a great example.
Snapshot of the US Job Market
In July 2018 alone, 157,000 jobs were created nationwide and US unemployment rates dipped to 3.9%. When looking just at small businesses, which are characterized by the US Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy as businesses with 500 or fewer employees, 1.9 million net new jobs were created in 2018.
With open jobs up and unemployment down, it’s no wonder that small businesses are struggling to find qualified candidates. According to the NFIB survey, “fifty-nine percent reported hiring or trying to hire” and “52 percent (88 percent of those hiring or trying to hire) reported few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.” Additionally, 23% of owners cited difficulty finding qualified candidates as their single most important business problem. That’s a significant challenge facing many small businesses.
Addressing Competition Through Recruiting
Competition is high. There are more jobs available than there are qualified people to take them. This makes it even more important to put your best foot forward to attract (and retain) the candidates you need. It’s time to up your recruiting game.
- Stay up to date on current compensation trends and match them. Today’s workforce is filled with savvy individuals who are doing research on their own and know what they are worth. Don’t make the mistake of basing the compensation on your budget. Set your compensation on the market rate for the position and the skill level you are seeking. If given the choice between two similar jobs, candidates will logically choose the opportunity that best meets the compensation rates they expect.
- Play up the unique benefits or perks your company offers. Perhaps you are able to offer flexible schedules, volunteer days, or work from home opportunities, or you have a dog-friendly environment. Or maybe you have a unique company culture that you just love and are looking for like-minded employees who will love it just as much. Get creative. What makes you stand out as a company? What do your current employees say they love about your company? Use this information to identify benefits that make you stand out in the crowd. Your prospective candidates will take notice.
- Offer a career path. Whether your employee base includes hourly or salary employees, offering a career path demonstrates your commitment to your employees right away. This does not need to be lengthy or complicated. Simply offer a vision for the candidate to imagine growing with the company and let the conversation grow from there.
- Consider upgrading your advertising channels. Are you relying on a sign in your storefront or an advertisement on one or two job sites? If so, it may be time to widen your net. There are more than 100 job boards active today. Some are generic and advertise positions in a variety of industries. Others are more niche and focus on specific industries (e.g., healthcare, IT/Tech, hospitality). It can feel daunting to expand your advertising to multiple job sites, but with an automated solution, you can post your open position to many job boards with the click of a button. Plus, you can track which job boards are giving you the most (and best) traffic.
So Now You’ve Widened Your Pool of Candidates. What’s Next?
A good approach to managing your candidate pool is to rate or score your applicants. With an automated solution, like Efficient Apply, you can set qualifying questions that will help you identify which candidates have the specific skills or experience you’re looking for. You can weight the questions in order of importance as well so the best candidates filter to the top. You can also denote questions that are deal breakers or disqualifiers so they drop to the bottom or automatically archive. These actions will save you a considerable amount of time. You’ll finally be able to elevate the right candidates (instead of weeding through a mountain of applications) so you can get them on the phone and into the interview and hiring process quicker.
Elevate your recruiting and applicant tracking and save valuable time and money.