Today, we’re in a hiring buyer’s market. There are more jobs than there are people looking for them. That puts those who have the labor to offer in the driver's seat. It’s a huge mindset shift for business owners and hiring managers. They now have to sell a role in order to bring on the high-quality people they want on their team. Filling open positions is especially challenging for small business owners right now.
Hiring isn’t something to be avoided. It’s a key part of growing your business. Even if you’re a solopreneur, you’ll reach an inflection point where you have to hire somebody to reach the next level of growth. And then you’ll reach the next inflection point and hire another person, and so on. Sometimes, you have to hire a lot of people. Small business owners who are in a growth stage have to recognize that we are in a buyer's market so they can find people and effectively hire the positions they need.
Adapt or Miss Out
In 2005, my daughter had just graduated from college and a friend of hers was in the market for a sales representative position. He had no experience and had never sold anything in his entire life. Yet, he didn’t want to be brought on as a trainee or wait for his income to grow as he gained experience. He wanted the big money and perks and he wanted it immediately. He didn’t get that perfect package at the beginning, but his mindset reminds me of how some people go into their job search today.
Many potential employees realize they now have more power. My friend has a well-established business and they need to not only replace people who move on, but also bring on more people in new roles as their company is growing. She’s told me of people that come into a first interview saying they can only work certain days or accept a specific salary. Other applicants expect opportunities to work remotely, even though the roles she needs to fill are mostly customer-facing and require a person in the office. She was taken aback because this is not the world she's used to, where employers had the upper hand. She's accustomed to people coming in to interview for a job ready to impress, rather than going straight to their expectations before either side even knows if there’s a fit first. How do we, as business owners, manage this shift?
If you’re a business owner who is looking to hire, you have to acknowledge that the power dynamic has changed and adapt your hiring approach and expectations.
- Have the right mindset as the business owner. You need to recognize and accept that you're in a buyer's market that favors job seekers. Know what’s important to potential employees. Pay and well-being issues top the list according to a recent Gallup study. The workforce at large is overwhelmed and burned out, and employees are aware that competition for talent is driving wages higher. Wellbeing is often an easier sell for small businesses. They can offer a lot more flexibility, engagement and connection between the people in the organization. Be realistic about the market you’re in today and be intentional so your recruiting and hiring efforts don’t miss the mark.
- Do your homework. Know the goal of the position you’re trying to fill and today's going rate for that role. What you may have offered two years ago is not likely going to cut it. What does that mean for your business and how are you going to account for it? If you’re struggling to offer competitive pay, are there other perks you can provide to make up for it? You have to be ready to market the position to potential employees. Maybe the pay is not high enough, but you can offer the flexibility of working from home three days a week or leaving early to get kids off the bus and then signing back in from home later. On the other hand, know your non-negotiables. What is it that this person has to be doing for you? If you don't know your non-negotiables, it will lead to frustration for both you and the new team member.
- Share it with your network. Who do you know and who might know someone great for the role you’re trying to fill? When you use this approach, you're automatically getting a high caliber person you can more easily trust. You may get a high caliber candidate from Indeed or other job sites, but a person recommended by someone in your network is already vetted and it just makes life easier. Such a person may not exist in your network, but starting there is a good idea.
When the pendulum swings back, people who moved into new roles will stay where they are and be loyal to the employers that met their needs. It’s a give and take relationship. Businesses have developed greatly since the days of punching a timeclock in and out at a factory. It's your business and you want your team to be bought into the mission and vision and for your business. That doesn’t mean they are going to spend the same number of hours working as you. Employees have stepped back and reevaluated their lives over the past few years and moved away from the hustle culture. Working nine to five every weekday is not the only way to run a business, and leaders who are more openminded will be the ones to hire and retain the best employees.
The Inflection Point Hub
The Inflection Point Hub is a group of small, but mighty, businesses owners positioned for intentional growth. Jeff Heyer-Jones, president of SparkEvolve, and I are building this peer advisory community to bring those small business owners together. You can check out our most recent Inflection Point Moment discussion with Erin Longmoon, a recruiter working strictly with small businesses, for much more on the challenges of hiring in today’s market. For those looking for a community where they can find support and connect with others facing the same challenges, like hiring and retention, The Inflection Point Hub is for you. In addition to being part of this cohort of like-minded people, you’ll also have access to curated experts, like Erin Longmoon, and other resources. Learn more about what you'll get with your membership and apply today.