Small Businesses Hiring: 4 Tips for Job Seekers

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21 percent of small business owners plan to hire in the next few months, says a new survey. By knowing what they're looking for, you'll increase your odds of landing a job.

More than a third of small business owners say they’re “somewhat or significantly understaffed” – and 1 in 5 will be hiring soon.

According to the latest government jobs report, the overall unemployment rate is at 8.3 percent. Private employment growth was better than expected, with businesses adding 163,000 jobs in July. That’s the strongest growth in the past five months.

If you’re part of the 8 percent and would like to become part of next month’s job growth numbers instead, it’s important to know what employers are looking for.

TD Bank quizzed more than 500 small business owners for a recent survey and asked about their biggest hiring challenges. Their responses…

  • Finding new qualified candidates (42 percent)
  • Training existing employees (23 percent)
  • Offering competitive compensation (22 percent)
  • Laying off inadequate employees (8 percent)
  • Continuous employee turnover (5 percent)

Less than 10 percent of these owners plan to lay off workers this year, while 21 percent plan to hire.

Now let’s convert the challenges of those doing the hiring into advice for those looking to be hired…

1. Show your skills

The top worry employers have is finding qualified candidates, and their second-highest concern is training them. That’s the same issue a CareerBuilder survey of 2,600 employers found last fall. Pay special attention to the skills employers are seeking in your field right now. If you have them, play them up on your resume and in interviews. If you don’t, consider brushing up. There are lots of places that offer free job training, including employment centers.

2. Settle for less, for now

Also a big concern is competitive pay – so it might be to your advantage to stress to employers that salary and benefits are secondary to getting a foot in the door. Once you can start proving yourself – and the economy starts picking up more – you’ll be able to negotiate the raise you deserve.

3. Check with bigger employers

If small businesses aren’t hiring, go big.  According to a CareerBuilder survey from this time last year, companies with more than 500 employees were 10 percent more likely to hire and make new jobs permanent.

4. Look for seasonal work

If job prospects aren’t looking good by the end of August, start checking with companies that typically add jobs for the holidays. Temporary work is better than no work, and if you make a good impression you might get hired permanently.

Stacy Johnson

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