Small Business Guide 2009
small business
12 tips for small-business hiring

It's a great time to hire, especially if you run a small business.

Similar to buying a home or picking up blue-chip stocks, those with the money to acquire new staff will find a wealth of choices. For small-business owners, though, that may also require spending some extra time sorting through all those applications.

Here are tips to help you attract, screen and hire the right person for the job:

1. Define the position. Exactly what is the job? What skills does it require? Too many times, when a small-business owner hires, he expects the new employee to shoulder everything that isn't being done currently, says Joe Kennedy, author of "The Small Business Owners Manual." And that can be everything from keeping the books to making the coffee.

Instead, keep a running list of the tasks with which you might need help, he says, and use it to write the job description when you're ready to hire.

2. Can you fill the need another way? Unlike large businesses, which are bogged down with policies and procedures, small businesses are free to look at less traditional solutions, says Fred Steingold, a Chicago-based attorney and the author of "Hiring Your First Employee." If you need help around the office, do you want to hire someone outright or go through a temp agency for a while? While a temp will cost more, the arrangement lets you "try out" the employee without paperwork or commitments.

Another option is independent contractors. If you need occasional help, like bookkeeping, you may be able to hire someone to handle the duties from time to time as an independent contractor, says Steingold. You're paying the person only when needed, you don't have to add another body to the payroll. 

3. Don't stop recruiting. Rule No.1 for small-business owners: Never stop recruiting, says Kennedy. "The moment you’re done hiring, you should be keeping your antennae up for the future. That's something that flexible smaller companies can do that bigger firms, often weighted down with policies and procedures, cannot, he says.

4. Borrow from the competition. Little companies have to do everything the big ones do only with less staff and budget. Here's a way to even the odds: When you need to hire, scour your competition's ads for similar positions, says career coach Martin Yate, career coach. What skills are they seeking? And what are they offering in return?

Two sources he recommends: the individual Internet job boards or Indeed.com, which aggregates thousands of job sites.

And if your competitor is successful, this step can also give you a good idea of where to spend your want-ad money.

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