10 Small Business Hiring Tips for a Tight Labor Market


A recent NFIB survey identified labor quality as the second biggest concern for small business. It’s a tough labor market and small businesses face what seems like an insurmountable challenge to find qualified employees for their jobs at the salaries they can pay. To make matters worse, available workers often lack the necessary experience or education. This creates a climate where small businesses find it increasingly difficult to recruit the top talent they need to grow and thrive.

How can small businesses compete for the best employees in a tight labor market? Here are some helpful suggestions that you can use to attract the talented labor force you require.

1.    Share Your Vision, Mission, and Values.

The best, most engaged employees want to know where your business is headed and how their work will contribute to getting there. Set goals and objectives for them within the context of that big picture view. When you show the connection between the purpose, impact, and importance of their work, your employees bring their energy and passion to their jobs.

2.    Offer Flexibility and Work-Life Balance.

Instead of staying locked in traditional models of work, allow your employees the flexibility to do things differently. Today’s workforce values freedom to enjoy personal time and work-life balance are important to them. Consider making meeting the deadlines with exceptional work the barometer of performance, rather than hourly accountability.

3.    Offer Growth and Development.

Continuous learning and career development are important factors for employees. They want to know what they will learn and when the opportunity to learn will take place. Make sure to have frequent performance conversations with your team and let them know what their career path looks like.

4.    Recognition and Rewards.

Pay reasonable salaries and, if possible, create a bonus structure for outstanding performance. Consider smaller things like gift cards for a job well done, or even a regular thank you, which go a long way towards attracting and retaining workers.

5.    Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.

Today’s workers resist being treated like cogs in a wheel. Create an environment that values open communication with multiple communication channels including online team portals, mobile apps, or Skype in addition to face-to-face meetings.

6.    Small Is an Advantage.

Being small is an advantage most organizations don’t leverage. Resist getting stuck in the “we can’t because we don’t have money for high salaries, generous benefit plans, or [insert other cool perks here].” Instead, focus on what you can offer and use that to attract great candidates.

7.    Build Relationships.

In a tough labor market taking time to build relationships with candidates is essential. Small things like responding to emails, answering questions, and giving job seekers tips and feedback that makes interviewing easier for them helps solidify relationships. Later, these candidates can be your future candidate pipeline. They are also a networking source for future referrals because they received something of value and were treated well.

8.    Use the Right Tools.

Choosing the right tools is essential. You want to choose tools that are appropriate for your needs and help you find your ideal candidates. While technology and social channels can be effective for quickly finding and hiring eligible candidates, the old-fashioned word-of-mouth method can be just as effective. You may also need a recruiter. Recruiters can save you time and money when weighed against the time and effort that may be put on the shoulders of HR managers, who are not expert recruiters and have other demands on their time.

9.    Be Honest.

Provide your candidates with a realistic picture of what the job entails and what it’s like working at your company. Resist the temptation to omit or gloss over the less attractive parts of the job. Be honest and straightforward.  Don’t keep them in the dark. Share results, both successes and failures.

10. Don’t Hire Fast to Relieve Pain.

Most of us have rushed through the recruiting process to fill a critical role and lighten the load. This can result in a bad hire causing more pain when you have to deal with a Lazy Larry or Debbie Diva. Resist the temptation get a quick fix—it’s better to be understaffed than to have a bad employee who will cost you time and money, and create problems with productivity, turnover, training costs, and retention of good performers.

In my upcoming book, The YOLO Principle™, the recruiting process is broken down into a system you can easily use to hire confidently, with more clarity, and make the right hiring decisions for your business.

If you need some insights to get started, schedule your insight session todaycall mesend an email, or text RECRUITER to 44222 to get a free sample of The YOLO Principle™. And, the best part is that it’s FREE!


Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, is The Small Business Hiring Expert and works with small business owners and entrepreneurs who want to end their struggle to hire the right people. She is the author of the upcoming book, The YOLO Principle: The Ultimate Hiring Guide for Small Business, and a co-author of Rethinking Human Resources. She can be reached at 843-779-YOLO (9656) or rebecca@yoloinsights.com.