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Hiring in a Low-Unemployment Market

New Hampshire’s unemployment rate is 2.6%, New England is at 4.4%; this is all great news in the short term for consumers, but it’s making hiring pretty tough for my small business clients. I have a unique hiring process that usually brings the cream of the crop to my clients’ employee roster, but the past couple of months have been a little rough, and I don’t expect the summer to improve. What can a small business owner do?

Hiring, Unemployment, Employees, Business

First and foremost, you’ve got to have a successful mindset. All too often, I hear business owners say “I’ll never find anyone” or they tell me how tough their industry is. The labor market may be tighter than we’d like, but as in all things, a negative attitude does not benefit us. There are employees choosing a new position, a new company every day; we just need to be sure that we are the one being chosen. Here is how a small business owner can win fabulous new employees over “the big guys”:

  1. Show how working for a small business, over a large or national business, is a benefit to employees. While you may not be able to compete with a large business budget, you can compete on the personal impact they can make, one-on-one leadership training (from you), hands-on learning, and growth opportunities.
  2. Let prospective employees know that you will rely on them. Survey after survey supports the notion that employees want to make a difference, they want to be engaged. You know how much you’re looking forward to your new hire, all the hopes of what they can give to your organization. Let them know.
  3. Show prospective employees how their skill set will broaden. Personal example: I graduated from college with a business degree, specializing in accounting, and then became a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). I could have continued on in large corporations, most likely spending my career in accounting departments, maybe finance (yawn…). Instead, by moving to small business, I developed strong operational skills in everything from manufacturing to human resources, even sales and marketing.
  4. Fewer people, less politics. Americans, especially millennials, are more likely to live away from their families, so work colleagues often become our “family”. While “family” may invoke the idea of politics to some, a small business family looks out for each other, has fewer spats, and are so focused on customer and client care that politics fall by the wayside. It’s all hands on deck, and there is no time for politics.
  5. Share how the work they do on a daily basis will make a difference – for you, the owner and your family, your customers and clients, and their colleagues, whether other employees or key third-party relationships. Your team will know the important people in your life personally and will become a familiar face/voice to customers and key vendors; people will rely on them and that brings satisfaction on a daily basis.

If your business is growing and hiring, start with a positive attitude. You know how great it feels (usually!) to work in a small business; be sure to let prospective employees know. What has brought hiring success to your small business recently? Share your great ideas and let small businesses grow. 


Helen Dutton, A Vision of Your Own, has provided business and personal coaching for small business owners since 2000, providing online and face to face coaching for entrepreneurs, small business owners, start-up businesses as well as established businesses across the country. Clients come from New Hampshire, her home state, but she has also acted as a mentor to business owners in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, the Denver area, and closer to home in the Boston area. Helen helps her clients develop their small business ideas, create marketing plans, improve operation efficiency, build customer service systems, build management and leadership skills, and develop confidence as a business owner. Helen provides business tips and resources through her blog and her newsletter, where you can also find business templates to help your business prosper.