Hiring Doesn’t Have to Be Hard: Here Are 4 Challenges and Their Solutions

The 4 Biggest Small Business Hiring Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Small business owners are optimistic about almost everything, including their hiring plans, according to the latest Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC) and Gallup Small Business Index. More than three in 10 (31 percent) predict the number of jobs at their companies will grow in the next 12 months; just 6 percent say it will shrink.

Small Business Hiring Challenges

But although small business owners are confident they’ll have job openings, they’re not as confident about being able to fill them. In fact, the survey identified four major challenges small business owners face when hiring new employees. Here’s a closer look at the problems and possible solutions.

Problem 1: The difficulty in identifying qualified candidates is by far the biggest problem small business owners cite. More than half (52 percent) say this is a challenge, so if it’s any consolation, you’re not alone.


  • Form a relationship with a local college, university or adult education program whose graduates fit your needs. Many such organizations would be eager to have a pipeline to job opportunity for their students.
  • Cast a wider net. If you need specialized workers your community doesn’t have, consider outsourcing to remote workers in other parts of the state, country or even overseas.

Problem 2: Forty-three percent of small business owners say they have difficulty knowing how well job applicants will do once they’re hired. As a small business owner, time is precious, and you don’t want to waste it bringing someone on board only to find out they’re a poor fit.

Solution: It’s impossible to predict with complete confidence how well a new employee will do at your business, but you can improve the odds of success by:

  • Conducting interviews with multiple people at your business. Have the department manager and immediate supervisor of the position join you in the interview or conduct separate interviews. Once a candidate is on your shortlist, have them meet other members of the department they’ll be joining; that way, you can get everyone’s impressions and feedback before you make a job offer.
  • Give pre-employment tests. You can find companies that provide skills or personality tests, or create a test of your own to really hone in on employees with the exact skills you want.

Problem 3: Nearly one-third (32 percent) of survey respondents say people who apply for jobs at their businesses are either overqualified or underqualified.

Solution: If you aren’t getting the right types of candidates, the problem could be in your approach to advertising the position. Try these tactics:

  • Make sure your job description is crystal clear about the skills and experience that are nonnegotiable, as well as those that are “nice to have.” Provide as much detail about the job duties and responsibilities as you can. This should help people without the necessary skills self-select out.
  • Change how you advertise. Huge, general job-search boards like Monster.com may not get the best results. Look for niche job-search boards in your industry and boards focused on your local community.
  • It’s easier than ever to reach out to people you know and tell them you’re hiring. Wouldn’t you rather interview someone recommended by a trusted contact? Use social media and in-person networking to spread the word about your open job.

Problem 4: It will come as no surprise to busy entrepreneurs that 32 percent of business owners in the survey simply don’t have the time or resources to find the best candidates.


  • Offload the grunt work of recruiting job candidates to one of your managers if possible. Have them sort through all the applications and resumes and present you with the best options.
  • Use recruitment software. You can’t fully automate the process of recruiting and hiring, but software can make it a lot more manageable. Check out this list of the best recruitment software for small businesses and see if there’s one that meets your needs.
  • Take your time. I know you’re eager to fill your job openings, but this is one situation where it’s smart to take it slow. Once you’ve identified the best possible candidates, don’t rush the interview or deliberation process. It’s the only way to make sure you get the best person for the job.

Image: Gallup 1 Comment ▼

Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

One Reaction
  1. Outsource your effort to a specialized recruiter, who will do all of the things listed above for you.