If you’re like most small business owners, you’re stretched thin, with everyone at your business doing more with less. Maybe business has picked up a bit and you’ve finally decided to hire.
Well, according to a new study by The Wall Street Journal and Vistage International, if you’re like most small business owners, you can’t find anyone to hire.
That’s hard to believe in today’s economy, with millions of workers still unemployed. But as of last month, 31 percent of the small business owners and CEOs polled said they had jobs they couldn’t fill because they couldn’t find qualified workers.
The problem was particularly onerous for manufacturing firms, with 41 percent unable to find the right workers. Still, 30 percent of service businesses and 29 percent of retail companies reported the same problem.
Small business owners in the Journal article say the lack of skilled, experienced workers is hindering their ability to expand. While some 36 percent of respondents say they offer training for their workers, training can take time and money a small business may not have.
If you’re on a tight budget and need someone who can hit the ground running, it may be more cost-effective to get along with an unfilled position than to hire someone who not only won’t be productive from Day One, but will also take up another employee’s time to train, lowering overall productivity.
A less popular solution is raising salaries for jobs that are hard to fill. About one-fourth of respondents report they’ve tried this tactic in order to attract better-qualified workers. But not every entrepreneur can afford this option.
By the way, if you think this issue isn’t a concern because most companies aren’t hiring, think again—nearly half (46 percent) of companies in the survey say they wanted to hire.
Where can you find qualified workers with the experience you need? I’m a firm believer in the power of networking—both social networking and the old-fashioned kind. Here are three suggestions:
- Tap into your networks. Let your contacts on social media networks and in professional organizations know you’re looking for new employees. Delve into the industry groups you participate in on LinkedIn and keep an eye on promising people in your industry who might be a good fit for your business. Tell your friends, relatives and neighbors what type of jobs you’re looking to fill. You never know when a friend of a friend of a friend will turn out to be exactly what you’re looking for.
- Tap into your existing employees. Birds of a feather flock together, so an employee who’s reliable, trustworthy and smart is likely to have friends who share the same qualities. Let your employees know about job openings you’re looking to fill. Offer a “finder’s fee” for anyone who refers a candidate that gets hired and passes your probationary period. When employees know their reputation is on the line, they’re likely to think carefully before they refer anyone who might not work out, so this can be one of your best resources.
- Tap into local colleges, universities, trade schools and technical programs. If you’re looking for employees with specific technical experience such as that required for IT or manufacturing jobs, contact local schools or programs that provide training and certification in these areas. Typically they’ll have hiring programs that connect qualified grads with local businesses. This can be a great source of workers who have up-to-date training and skills.
How do you find qualified workers?
Help Wanted Photo via Shutterstock
I love point #3. Luckily we’re located within 15 minutes of two universities with student enrollment over 25K. The university does all the sifting and brings them in. We find the right people and bring them on. It’s a great way to get top talent at an affordable rate.
A question for you SMB managers: before the recession, were you able to acquire talent that required the new hire to relocate? I wonder if the problem isn’t so much that there aren’t skilled workers, but that you can’t get the skill to your doors. Problems with labor mobility etc.
Another symptom of homeowners being underwater on the mortgage, perhaps…
Job board software for small business can be an affordable way to reach only those applicants who are most talented to fit the job. ForceFinder incorporates social media as well as targeted questions for employers to screen applicants out to avoid being inundated with unqualified applicants.
Thanks for the tips. I use freelancing websites to hire talents but linkedin can also be used to find professionals.
It’s truly a big challenge for small businesses finding qualified workers that are affordable, in addition to that, how do you hire someone that you might only need their service for just one month or so, the alternative solution that most of the small businesses are using now is the freelance marketplace. An example will be freelancedomain.com, they match businesses with freelancers, you don’t pay the freelancers until you review the work done and the work meets the agreed terms between you and the clients. They have services for all IT and office task.
David Hunt, PE
That’s the biggest load of bovine scatology I’ve heard. There are a LOT of people out there. Companies are just too hung up on finding a seventeen-sided peg to fit into a seventeen-sided hole. And too unwilling to invest in people – instead, they believe that somewhere “out there” is a school cranking out perfect candidates.
Upper execs should be asking, ‘where is everybody?’