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2013 Hiring Forecast: A Good Employee Is Hard to Find

January 25th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

Will you be hiring employees for your small business this year? If so, you’re in good company–but you might face challenges as tough as looking for a needle in a haystack. More than one-fourth of hiring managers polled in the CareerBuilder Hiring Forecast for 2013 say their companies will be hiring full-time, permanent employees in 2013, up 3 percent compared to 2012. However, that doesn’t mean the hiring outlook is rosy.

Many businesses are still on the fence about hiring. Although more than 60 percent of employers in the survey say they are in a better financial position than last year, the slow pace of recovery is still affecting hiring plans, and the percentage of companies planning layoffs also increased, from 7 percent last year to 9 percent this year. Small businesses, in particular, show signs of indecision, with both the percentage planning to hire and the percentage planning to lay people off up 3 percent from last year.

If you are planning to hire, what markets will see the most competition? Sales (29 percent) and IT (27 percent) are the top areas where companies plan to hire. These are also the two areas that will see the biggest salary increases. Customer service, engineering and production are close behind sales and IT, with slightly over 20 percent of companies planning to hire for these roles.

While it may be hard to believe, in many industries and/or regions of the country, it’s hard to fill skilled positions, and employers are struggling to find workers. How are companies dealing with the shortage?

  • Temp time: More businesses are relying on temporary employees or using staffing services to fill in the gaps. Some 40 percent of companies surveyed report plans to hire temporary and/or contract workers in 2013, an increase from 36 percent last year.
  • Talent poaching: More employers are actively recruiting employees from other companies. Almost 20 percent of employees in the survey reported having been approached by a potential employer in 2012 even though they hadn’t applied for a job at that company.
  • Pay raises: Employers are concerned not only about finding skilled workers, but holding on to those they already have. No wonder many employers in the survey said they plan to increase compensation for both existing staff and prospective hires.
  • Do-it-yourself: Instead of searching for skilled employees, more companies are training their existing employees to move up to positions of greater responsibility or learn new skills that are needed within the business. Some 39 percent of employers said they will train current employees for new positions this year, up from 38 percent last year.

Image by Flickr user John Pavelka (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: SpringTern (Student Freelancers for Hire)

January 22nd, 2013 ::


Talented students need real-world experience, and your business needs help on a project, but you don’t have the money to hire freelancers. SpringTern wants to help put you and the talent together. SpringTern connects small and midsized businesses with students to do volunteer work projects. Projects are generally short-term and part-time (most on the site are under 100 hours) and can be done remotely, so there is no need to find space for the student in your office. SpringTern has facilitated over 20,000 hours of work experience since its launch and received positive reviews from student and business users alike. It only costs $45 to list your project on the site.

How to Be a Good Interviewer

January 3rd, 2013 ::

By Karen Axelton

Do your New Year’s plans for your business including hiring new employees? Then you’ll want to make sure you get the perfect person for the job. One of the most important parts of choosing a new employee is conducting a good job interview that gives you all the information you need to make a decision. But many small business owners aren’t sure how to do a thorough interview. Here are some tips to help you.

Be prepared. Before the interview, review the candidate’s resume and job application. Also create a list of questions that you ask all candidates. This not only helps ensure you don’t forget anything important, but also means you’re judging employees from a level playing field by asking everyone the same things.

Focus. Don’t check your email, answer your phone or look at your computer during the interview. Not only is it rude, but you’ll also get distracted. You only have a short time to talk to this person before deciding you want to make them part of your business; shouldn’t you be paying attention?

Ask open-ended questions. Instead of questions that can be answered with “yes” or “no,” ask questions that require an explanation or call on the candidate to elaborate. You’ll get a better sense of the person’s personality that way, as well as fuller descriptions of his or her experience.

Know what you can and can’t ask. To avoid getting in trouble for discriminatory hiring, in general, you should stay away from questions regarding an interviewee’s age, marital or parental status, religion, race, disability or legal immigrant status. (This Nolo.com article provides more information and resources on hiring questions.)

Make it a team effort. If you get nervous during interviews, to the point where you find it hard to focus, consider having a partner or key employee conduct the interview with you. You can take notes and observe the candidate, while your partner can do most of the talking. This tactic has the added benefit of giving you someone else’s perspective on the candidate.

Write it down. Take notes on the candidate’s answers to help you remember what was said, especially if you’re interviewing several people in a row. After each interview, spend 5 minutes or so jotting down the relevant information, including your first impression of the person.

Follow up. Let the candidate know when he or she can expect to hear from you regarding the job—and be sure to follow up when you say you will. There’s nothing worse for a candidate than waiting in limbo to hear about a job offer. What’s more, if you’re not professional about how you handle this, it could affect your business’s reputation on social media.

Image by Flickr user Marco Bellucci (Creative Commons)


Making a Reference List, Checking It Twice

December 25th, 2012 ::

By Karen Axelton

Santa Claus isn’t the only one who’s making a list and checking it twice this time of year. Smart small business owners will do the same when they’re interviewing job candidates. A new study from CareerBuilder highlights some of the risks you could take if you don’t bother to contact a job candidate’s references.

Nearly 30 percent of employers report having caught a fake reference on a candidate’s job application. And almost two-thirds (62 percent) say that when they contacted a reference listed on an application, the reference didn’t have good things to say about the candidate.

The overwhelming majority of employers (80 percent) say they regularly contact references when they’re considering potential employees. Nearly 70 percent of employers say they’ve changed their minds about a candidate after talking to a reference; of those, 47 percent say the discussion gave them a less favorable opinion of the candidate, and 23 percent say it improved their opinion. About one-third (31 percent say their opinion has never been swayed by a reference.

In an interesting trend, 16 percent say they contact references even before calling a candidate in for a job interview. Clearly, this could save you some time if all of the references you contact have a negative opinion, but it might make it harder to form your own unbiased opinion of a candidate first.

If you do check references, be sure to contact all of them. Seventy percent of workers say they always provide three or more references when applying for a job, and talking to a variety of former employers will give you more fully rounded insights into the person’s work habits.

Are you worried that references won’t be honest? Contacting multiple references is a good way to get around this concern. Another tactic: Asking a very open-ended question (“Can you tell me a little bit about so-and-so?”) and seeing how vocal the reference is. If he or she can’t stop saying good things, that’s a good sign. On the other hand, a lack of feedback or reluctance to talk could indicate the person’s performance was less than stellar.

Keep in mind, some HR people’s companies restrict them from giving out anything but the most bare-bones information about references as a matter of policy. This isn’t necessarily a negative reflection on the candidate. If you get one of these references, just check the factual information that you can, such as job title, dates of employment, salary and reason for leaving the company. You may uncover some discrepancies that could be important to know about.

Image by Flickr user Nguyen Vu Hung (vuhung) (Creative Commons)


Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Scavado (Talent Search Engine)

November 28th, 2012 ::


Looking to hire in the New Year? According to Manpower, 49 percent of U.S. employers say they have difficulty finding the right people for open jobs. Scavado is a simple talent search engine that connects recruiters with top candidates without complicated search algorithms. Built by a veteran recruiter who needed her process for sourcing talent online to be more efficient, Scavado finds relevant results from all over the Web. It’s easy; all you need to do is enter a few keywords. Scavado costs $99 per user per month and helps you target the top talent you need.

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Submittable (Resume-Sorting App)

November 12th, 2012 ::


If you plan to launch a contest for your business in the near future; you’re hiring for a new position and have hundreds of digital resumes to vet; or your business simply deals with tons of digital documents, Submittable can help you make sense of the myriad files, get organized and bring some sanity back in your life. With resumes, Submittable allows you to rank resumes and then filter by factors such as criteria such as educational background and current job status. If you’re receiving entries for a contest, Submittable gives you an easy tool for applicants to use that also helps you keep organized. Use Submittable for other documents, too.

How to Choose Managers for Your Business

October 4th, 2012 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

You’re expanding your business to a second location. Maybe you’re adding a new product or service and launching a new department within the company to manage it. How do you choose the right person to climb the ladder and head up your new store, restaurant or division? Delegating to managers is tough for many small business owners, but when your business gets this big, you really have no choice. If you’re unsure where to start seeking your ideal manager, here are some options to consider.

Family ties: If you haven’t hired any family members yet, give it some thought. As your business expands, now could be the time to make sure it stays “all in the family” by bringing relatives on board. Of course, it’s key to make sure the family member has the skills, experience and desire you’d seek in any employee—not just in one who shares your name. But if the person fits the bill, hiring immediate family (your spouse, parent or child) can also bring your business some valuable tax breaks. Visit the IRS website for more details.

Promote from within: Depending on the size of your company, you may have someone on your team already who could handle this new management role. Perhaps your top sales representative deserves a chance to run a store on his or her own. Promoting from within not only rewards deserving employees for their hard work and loyalty, but also sends a message to your other employees that “If you work hard, you, too, can get promoted.”

Look outside: If you don’t have anyone with the qualifications you need inside your business or your family, it’s time to look outside for your new manager. The days of just placing a want ad in the paper are long gone—you can now find candidates more easily (and learn more about them) through social networks. For example, use LinkedIn and Twitter to seek out people who shine in your industry and who might be interested in switching jobs. You can even post job listings on LinkedIn.

But don’t forget the offline social networks, which can be just as valuable. People who come well recommended by people you know are the best kind of job candidates. Tell your friends, family and colleagues about the role you’re looking to fill, and see if they know anyone who could do the job. You never know where you’ll find your ideal manager.

Image by Flickr user plastAnka (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: MBAProjectSearch.com (MBA Talent Sourcing)

October 3rd, 2012 ::


Providing both startups and established business with access to MBA talent on a project-by-project basis, MBAProjectSearch.com provides a vital link between businesses in need and talented apprentices. Workers include seasoned, experienced business professionals who have gone back to school to improve already impressive credentials. Businesses can post their projects for free, with students bidding directly to those looking to hire. Alongside their requested fee, students are asked to supply any pertinent information the employer requests, such as a resume and work samples. MBAProjectSearch.com encourages businesses to rate the students within their profile.


Web.com Review: Small Business Resource: GradSpring: Site for Hiring Recent Grads

September 10th, 2012 ::


Want to find the perfect candidate for an entry-level position in your business? Start by registering your business on GradSpring.com to find recent college graduates from anywhere in the world. The job posting resource is free for businesses, and offers job seekers not only postings for entry level jobs, but also advice, webinars, blogs and tutorials. Your position must require two years or less of experience and pay an industry standard salary. In addition, you cannot be hiring employees to work from home. You must provide an office workspace. If you’re looking for raw talent and seeking energetic grads who want real-world experience, start here.

Government Rolls Out Pilot Worker Verification Program

April 5th, 2011 ::

By Karen Axelton

Illegal workers are a key concern in Washington and now the Federal government is considering using a private system for verifying the identity of employees before they are hired, The Washington Post reports.

Currently, employers have the option to check employees’ legal status using a system called E-Verify (this is voluntary). However, many immigrants use stolen Social Security numbers to game the E-Verify system.

The new plan, being tested by the Department of Homeland Security and not approved by Congress yet, would use the same existing verification systems people use when they apply for a mortgage or a bank account. In addition to giving an employer their Social Security number, employees would also need to answer questions about their personal financial background to verify their identity.

In March, the government rolled out a voluntary pilot program that allows individuals in the District of Columbia, Virginia, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho and Mississippi to use a system provided by Equifax to verify their identity. After their identify is verified, users access a federal database to verify that they’re authorized to work in the U.S. The program will be expanded nationwide in the coming months.

Those involved in the program say one reason it’s needed is to help the small percentage of citizens and legal immigrants who run into problems when their employers use the E-Verify system. The new system enables workers to check their records before they apply for jobs, giving them the chance to fix any errors.

Employers and the government will not get any information about which workers do self-checks, and employers cannot require employees to do them.

Of course, using private databases to verify information may also involve errors; Alejandro Mayorkas, director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, told the Post he is concerned about that issue.

Mayorkas said the government will evaluate how well the pilot program works before giving employers access. Even if employers are able to access the program, Mayorkas said it would remain voluntary unless Congress acts to make it mandatory.

If you currently use E-Verify in your business, stay tuned for more news on how this program will affect you as it rolls out.

Image by Flickr user Brittanie Shey (Creative Commons)