While no business is immune from these hiring difficulties, small companies often find the mismatch between openings and applicants especially troublesome. Across industries, therefore, many of these enterprises are tackling the problem by finding creative ways to approach recruiting, hiring and training. At the same time, collaborations between business, government, and community groups are helping to lay the groundwork for a long term solution.
Small businesses are also more likely to be working in unusual niches, making it harder to find people with the specific experience needed by employees. Reliable Underground Service Technicians in Allendale, Michigan, for example, provides cathodic protection services – a technique for preventing corrosion in pipelines, bridges, and other metal structures. Job applicants rarely have any knowledge of the highly specialized field, said owner Tim Corbett.
In the six years since he launched the business, Corbett has tried several methods of choosing employees, including aptitude and personality tests. Eventually, he realized that the only way to end up with reliable employees is to create them.
Now, Corbett interviews potential hires, looking for confidence and problem-solving skills, then puts the selected candidates through an extensive training program. Today, he has about 20 employees and lower employee turnover than other companies in the field, he said.