The Biggest Hiring Challenge for Small Business Owners — Quality Over Quantity

Young group of people discussing business plans.

During the recession, Americans got used to the fact that there just weren’t enough jobs. Now, small business owners are experiencing quite the opposite: too many open job positions.

Despite the open positions and willingness to hire, however, small business owners are straying from taking on new employees due to the fact that many applicants are under qualified.

According to the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB), 56 percent of owners reported hiring or trying to hire, but 48 percent having few or no qualified applicants for the positions they were trying to fill.

With a reported 70 percent saying that they found it difficult to hire qualified employees, small business owners currently consider this issue to be number one with respect to hiring.

So, why is this such a problem?

Flashback in time for a moment. The economy is down—way down—and businesses are no longer capable of hiring new employees, let alone maintaining the ones they currently have. Layoffs become the new norm, and the threat of losing a job is all too much of a reality.

A small business catches on to the trend and starts firing employees that have worked there for some amount of time. The problem is that these employees were probably qualified for the job when they were hired, and if not, they were working in the business long enough to have learned the craft prior to leaving.

Now, the economy has improved, small business owners are hopeful and ready to hire again, and the applications start coming in for consideration. But, the previously employed, laid-off employees have moved on to other jobs and the pool for potential workers has changed drastically.

No longer are these applicants skilled in whatever profession they are applying for—many do not have college educations, and if they do, they are not trained in the field in which they are applying. Small business owners are hesitant to hire someone unqualified because they simply do not have the resources to train or pay a worker who does not arrive with a solid skill set. Unlike big businesses, there is not as much flexibility in hiring just anyone without the threat of losing money and wasting time.

As such, owners are refraining from hiring even if it means filling a desperate position. While training willing, but unqualified, candidates could reduce the rate of employee turn-over and have better long lasting effects, many small businesses do not see training programs as an option.

Until business owners find what they’re looking for in who they’re looking for, the holes in their employee pool will remain open.

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