Small businesses have rare hiring advantage

Updated 1/18/2016 6:24 AM

This may be the year to hire.

In fact, small businesses planning to bring new people on board this year seem likely to have an easier-than-usual time finding the employees they want: "Big business no longer has its allure," Cathleen Faerber says of the job market.


"So many people have been burned by the callousness of corporate America that smaller businesses should be better able to attract the best and the brightest."

There's more good news, as well. Even though the job market has tightened some, "We have not seen rises in salaries," says Jean Kripton Durham. Consequently, candidates who have been downsized are more realistic about salary levels -- assuming, Kripton Durham notes, that the hiring small business "gets clear on what makes the company stand out" in the marketplace.

That's the flip side of the hiring coin. Smaller businesses, many of which lack experienced human resources staff, often don't have especially happy hiring experiences. What will help separate your business is an interviewer "who knows the cultural characteristics of the organization," Kripton Durham says.

The ability to explain a business' culture to job candidates means "You'll do better" in hiring, she says.

Kripton Durham is president of Jean Kripton Inc., a Chicago-based employment agency. Faerber is managing director of The Wellesley Group Inc., a Buffalo Grove retained search firm.

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The fact that the hiring process often is difficult for small businesses represents something of a conundrum. "Talent acquisition is critical," Faerber says. "You have to take the hiring process seriously. Who will be a good fit isn't necessarily the (candidate) with the best resume."

If she and Kripton Durham are correct in their assessments, the marketplace is ready for small employers who can highlight the advantages of working for a smaller business. "In the '70s," Faerber says, "you knew the company would take care of you. But people today look at job opportunities with their eyes wide open."

Jobseekers "are no longer gun shy about privately owned companies," Faerber says. "Candidates want to be treated right. They want that sense of (job) security that privately owned businesses can offer.

"Smaller businesses have great opportunities and more stability."

There is hiring assistance available. Employment agencies and retained search firms are a source of hiring help. Faerber suggests looking at human resources organizations, especially Chicago SHRM (the Society for Human Resource Management), where she is a director.


There are SHRM chapters throughout the area, Faerber says. Call and ask for some help. Also talk to other business owners who have made recent hires, Faerber suggests. Go to your trade association, which may even have a list of potential candidates.

Above all, Faerber says, don't hesitate to spend money on hiring help. "You hire a CPA for your taxes. You hire a lawyer for legal issues." Her implied conclusion: Why not hire an outside firm to help you hire?

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