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

5. Make a list. Large corporations have computer programs and staffs to sort through resumes. But you can do the same thing on a budget. Now that you have a job description for the new position, what are your "must-haves" for the new hire? Make a list. (These are also the criteria you want to include in your job ads.)

Enlist a couple of family members or trusted friends to help you go through the pile, says Kennedy. Be brutal. Any resume that doesn't have all of the qualifications on the list is set aside. (Go through these later and hang onto any promising leads for future searches.)

If you're doing this solo, you can set up a macro on MS Word (and some similar programs) to search a document for keywords that you select. This feature can be very useful in scanning through a large number of resumes, says Kennedy, who often uses it himself.

6. Seek out the best employees. You may be a small fry, but chances are your company can offer some perks that would cause a hardened corporate type to consider an offer. When you advertise or recruit, "sell the small-business environment," says Kennedy.

Can you offer a more flexible schedule or some work-from-home time? Can an employee bring kids or pets to work from time to time, or work from home if needed? If you don't offer health insurance, can you pay more to make up the difference?

"If you get good people, you do need to pay them a bit more than competitors because it costs so much to lose them," says Kennedy.

Other small-business advantages include more hands-on experience and training, and the opportunity to simply do the work without "being bogged down in paperwork," says Steingold.

7. Don't try to get something for nothing. Anyone with jobs to offer these days is in the driver's seat. But if you overhire and underpay, be prepared to lose your employee in a year or two, when he gets a better offer, says Yate.

One way it can work is if you and your best candidate are willing to acknowledge that the resulting arrangement is likely temporary. In that case, you're offering a short-term opportunity that will benefit both parties. The critical difference between striking a deal and taking advantage: honesty and attitude.

8. Go hunting. Is there someone you’ve always wanted to hire? Pick up the phone. Several business owners report that this type of networking often results in an eventual hire, even if it comes years later.

And if your No. 1 choice is intrigued, you might not have to wait at all.

If you’re poaching from direct competitors, it's "usually not cool if the business owner himself calls," says Kennedy. Have an employee or close business associate call the person and let them know you'd like to meet for coffee to discuss something important, he says.


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