Skip navigation

Always_Interviewing_body.jpgby Erin McDermott.


A small business owner is already performing many roles—star, producer, and director. But how can you possibly play talent scout, too?


The competition for your next great employee never stops. With highly qualified candidates increasingly scarce, the task often can be even harder for smaller firms, as the fits and starts of growth make the addition of another salary a perilous financial leap. For many, it’s no longer only a rival across town that’s hiring from the same talent pool, technology has enabled national and global competitors to search out the same folks as well.


“With skilled-worker shortages increasing, the need to build a company talent pool is a necessity,” says Ira Wolfe, president of Wind Gap, Pennsylvania-based Success Performance Solutions and a recruiter for small firms as well as blue-chip clients. “The problem is supply and demand—small business owners want to hire just-in-time, but the supply isn’t there. You can’t think you’ll run an ad and have a position filled within two weeks.”


New tools like LinkedIn and other social-media sites have become a virtual resume bank and Rolodex of every colleague you and your staffers have ever known. But that seeming abundance also makes those hiring more optimistic than they should be. While these sites can be a valuable tool, they also are rife with incomplete, out of date, or outright inflated information, making searches frustrating and unreliable.


So how can small businesses best keep a finger on the pulse of their real talent pool? Technology can make short work of some of it, but there are also time-tested techniques and insights that small business owners, and the recruiters they work with, swear by. Here’s a look at four approaches:


Try new technologies

LinkedIn and its 225 million users is a good place to start, but know the limits. Combined with Facebook, CareerBuilder, Monster, the Ladders, and Glassdoor, the “sharing” updates can be a 24/7 window on the comings and goings of staffers—who’s leaving, who’s unhappy, and, importantly, who’s looking. Still, it takes an effort to learn the etiquette and build a presence—time and energy that busy small business owners likely don’t have. Two new alternatives comb LinkedIn and other boards’ data and cut to the chase—for a price. HiringSolved works like a search engine, spanning global sites and industries, to constantly filter candidates and send the best to your attention. (Prices start at $199 a month.)


There’s also the startup NextHire, which works with small businesses to set up the search criteria, runs its algorithms across the various resume boards, then narrows down the field and presents a list of eight to 10 pre-screened finalists. It charges a flat rate of $4,000—a fraction of the 25 percent of first-year salary that many traditional recruiters command, says CEO Bob Myhal. Among NextHire’s cool tools: a one-way webcam interview with candidates that offers a glimpse of the character behind the resume. “We’ve come to realize that a resume is limited. It’s just one view,” Myhal says. “We set out to give clients multiple views. This gives another piece of the puzzle.”


Cast a wide net

Remember the old yarn about not putting all your eggs in one basket?  Don’t rely on a single niche job board posting, either. In the budding tech city of Nashville, talent coordinator Heather Neisen says she hits all points in search of candidates for TechnologyAdvice, an IT adviser for B2B. Her most recent list of scouting spots: local chambers of commerce, career fairs, career centers, networking events, college faculties, industry associations, paid posting boards, and even Craigslist. It’s about building a contact list and keeping in tune with which sources are the most helpful, Neisen says. “Just one is not going to be enough for a small business,” she says. “You never know where the one perfect applicant is going to come from. The answer is everywhere—there’s not one pattern that we’ve found. And that’s why you constantly have to keep looking.”


Keep the lines open

The minimum time to fill an open spot is 45 days, says Wolfe. Small business owners need to be constantly recruiting, watching the local openings and closings and keeping track of talented individuals who might be looking. One way to build an internal network: Set up your company’s website to always accept applications, which can build a go-to pool of preferred and interested candidates. (And even if they’re not available, they may know someone who is.) One smart tip from Wolfe: Keep an open mind when it comes to skills that might unexpectedly translate to other industries. He had an arborist client who was always looking for people available to take care of trees. Their solution: They started posting job openings at a rock-climbing center, where people who likely wouldn’t mind scampering up a tree would gather. Wolfe knows a bit more than most about abilities with other applications. He spent 15 years as a dentist before he started getting paid to find the right people for companies in need. His one common strength in both fields, he says: Diagnosis.


But don’t let ‘the one’ get away

Is this person smart? Someone who’s good to be around? Then hire them and the business will come. That’s the advice that family lawyer Randall Kessler says he’s followed for 30 years for his Atlanta firm (and he wrote about this recently here). It’s wonderful if a candidate has great skills, but the bigger goal is to find someone that you respect and trust to add value to your team. Kessler says it’s hard for small firms to know when the next emergency might come or when it will be imperative to add on, so he’s found it’s just wise to always keep track of who’s making a good impression. “Even if I’m not hiring, I’m keeping them in mind,” he says. “Sometimes you don’t need to post a job application to know they’re the person to tailor a job to.”

Provided by Aetna

When you own a business, sleep can become a valuable commodity.

How many times have you tossed and turned, hashing over the events of the day? Or stayed up past midnight on the computer, trying to resolve a billing issue?



We all have a bad night every now and then. But when you don’t get six to eight hours of sleep most nights, it can take a serious toll on your life – and on your business.



Here are five reasons why sleep matters.

  1. Your memory is better
    “Now where did I put those invoices?” “Did I place that order or not?”
    Scientists have long known getting a good night’s sleep helps us learn and remember.
    And, obviously, poor memory can turn into lost time – and money.

  2. You are less accident prone
    Sure, accidents happen – but experts agree, when you cheat sleep regularly, you are likely to have more lapses that turn into accidents.2
    Trip over a stepladder and fracture an arm – and suddenly you face losing a day’s receipts or profits.

  3. You are better at problem solving
    Studies show that people are more creative in their problem solving after getting a good night’s rest.

    Ever have a problem that has bugged you during the day – only to “sleep on it” and come up with a solution the next morning?
    Solving a problem can mean saving your business money. Lots of money. 

  4. Your moods are better
    Ever snap at a customer and regret it later? Lack of sleep can make you moody or irritable – and more likely to say something you really shouldn’t.  No one should ever lose a sale because of a lack of zzz’s.

  5. Your overall health is better
    The studies here are scary. Lack of sleep can lead to heart disease, obesity and a weakened immune system.

    Any of these can mean expensive trips to the doctor – or the emergency room.
    If you stay healthy, your business has a better chance of staying healthy, too.



Learn more about Aetna insurance solutions.

1. Miller M.D., Michael Craig. How Sleep Affects Learning and Memory, InteliHealth, Sept. 24, 2012. Available at Accessed November 10, 2013.

2, 3, 4, 5  Six Reasons for Good Sleep. InteliHealth, Sept. 6, 2010. Available at Accessed November 10, 2013.

Aetna is the brand name used for products and services provided by one or more of the Aetna group of subsidiary companies, including Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna).

This material is for information only.  Health benefits and health insurance plans contain exclusions and limitations. Information is believed to be accurate as of the production date; however, it is subject to change.

By Iris Dorbian.


Benefits_body.jpgIt’s a dilemma that has plagued many small business owners: Should they offer employees a benefits package? And, if so, what should they offer that would both meet the needs of employees without incurring undue financial liability on the business?


While some business owners have, in the wake of the recent recession, opted to either slash or cut benefits entirely, giving employees the responsibility of finding insurance courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, this could be a flawed strategy.


According to a recent survey conducted by the insurance company Aflac, 57 percent of workers said they would likely accept a job with lower pay but better benefits. This is a finding that reinforces the importance of small business owners offering employees a benefits program to stem workforce attrition.


Below are some tips to help build an employee benefits package that’s the right fit for your business.


Work with a benefits broker

Just as the title indicates, a benefits broker can help you design an employee benefits package that will not only be fair to your finances but to your employees’ needs as well. He or she can help you understand how much of an insurance premium you can afford to get the coverage you feel is right for your employees. They can also help you explain to your workers the value of the benefits you’re offering.


Karen LaCroix, founder and president of SuperiorHR, a Dallas-based human resources solutions provider for small to medium-sized companies, believes in the value of this advice. But she does note that there is “marked difference in the insurance products available to companies with fewer than 50 employees,” as opposed to larger firms.


However, if a small business wants to be competitive in the workplace and attract top-notch talent, it would be wise to develop a benefits package that rivals what its competitors are offering.


Identify all the pieces

Few would argue that health insurance is the most critical element of an employee benefits package.


“Health insurance provides a safety net that protects an individual or family from the high cost of a catastrophic health event,” says LaCroix.


She also suggests that small businesses consider including long-term disability coverage as a benefits option. “Again, this is protection from lost income should an employee be disabled for a long period of time,” notes LaCroix.


Mick Hewitt, CEO and co-founder of MasteryConnect, a five-year-old educational technology firm in Salt Lake City, says in his company’s sector—the tech startup culture—the typical benefits package is constantly in flux and evolving.


Because of this, he says, “When we put together our benefits, we looked at the extremely competitive tech talent hunt and decided that we couldn't afford to offer anything less than the best health care. So we opted to pay the entire family premium for our employees' health and dental care. We view it as an essential investment into recruitment and retention.


The less time and energy an employee has to spend worrying about health care, the more time and energy he or she can pour into innovating for our company.”


Solicit employee feedback

When building an employee benefits package, it’s a good idea to consult employees about what they would like included. In addition to health insurance, some workers might view wellness programs as critical to their needs.


Tom Giddens, executive vice president and director of sales at Aflac, works with many small businesses and champions this tip.


“Offering the right benefits package is a matter of understanding what today’s employees want and need,” he says. “To gain insight, employers can hold town hall meetings, create idea boxes where employees can submit their benefits-related requests or even conduct employee surveys. All are easy ways for employers to start benefits conversations with their workforces and ensure they offer the most appropriate, competitive and cost-effective packages for their businesses and workers.”

This tactic also gives workers more of a proactive and less passive role in customizing a benefits package conductive to their needs.



Decide whether you need to offer benefits

If you operate a business that relies on seasonal, part-time or even contractor help, you might not need to offer benefits. Be realistic with what you can—or cannot—afford.


For uninsured workers, the ACHA’s Health Insurance Marketplace, provides a range of options. Plus, depending on their income, workers might qualify for a subsidy that can reduce their monthly premiums, thus making insurance affordable and accessible within their means.


But small businesses might be subject to penalties if they opt out of offering full-time employees health insurance.


Hewitt of MasteryConnect, has 35 employees, and says small businesses need to carefully consider the repercussions of not offering employee benefits.


“Companies have to weigh the cost of those penalties versus the cost of providing insurance,” he says. “If you neglect to offer a good health plan, you've got problems beyond financial penalties: No one will want to work for you. In our case, the AHCA ended up being a non-issue because we would never consider eliminating those benefits.”

Filter Article

By tag: