Your next job is probably at a small business

46 percent of survey respondents want to work for a company with fewer than 100 employees. And guess what? There are millions of those companies.

Your next job is probably at a small business

There are 28 million small businesses in the United States. These businesses — with flags planted in every industry from automotive to app making — provide two out of the every three jobs nationally, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

So it’s no wonder why many people want to work at them.

Forty-six percent of those who responded to a recent Monster survey — which asked, “At what size company would you most like to work?” — said they wanted to work at a company with 6 to 100 employees. Twenty-one percent said they would work at a company with over 501 employees and only 11 percent said they want to work at a company with a maximum of five employees.

Obviously, this flies in the face of the notion that people want to work for headline-making corporations — such as the Googles, Facebooks, Twitters and General Electrics, of the world.

But companies large and small want top-tier, talented employees. And recruiters at small businesses typically have different needs from those at massive, multinational corporations, particularly those seeking technical talent. What should be common is the creativity needed when looking to reel in the big fish.

For National Small Business Week, May 12 to 16, we asked a handful of small business owners how they go about finding their next in-house superstar. After all, a business can only be as good as its employees.

C-level meets low-level

Small businesses are in a better position to hire for fit as opposed to pure skill set. And though the idea of “fit” is ambiguous, it’s that C-level to low-level interaction that will help an employee at a small company learn the skills he or she needs on the job.

Mary M. Gillam, owner of M2G Dynamic Leadership Solutions, a Lorton, Va. company specializing in information technology consulting, says she needs people with the right skills, but she needs people to fit with the company culture even more.

“As a small business owner and former military member, I try to build camaraderie with the team,” she says. “Since the company is smaller, it is easier to get to know the employees by spending time with them. In larger corporations, it is difficult sometimes for the CEO to visit with the team due to the magnitude of the organization.”

An offer is more than just a number

Apple or Microsoft can afford to pay high salaries to its employees at various levels of skill and experience. A nascent company, however, may only have enough to fully finance a handful of employees who will in turn have to put in some serious hours.

But during those hours, the employee will find himself or herself learning about every aspect of the company, gaining experience in multifaceted ways.

This is how Nellie Akalp, CEO of CorpNet, an online legal document filing service based in Westlake Village, Ca., views compensation at her company.

“As a small business, I can offer job candidates the chance to get amazing experience in a variety of different positions,” she says. “If they start on the sales team, but become more interested in business development then with time they have the chance to try out different jobs and see what is best for them.”

Also, it never hurts to learn (a lot) on the job.

“I can also offer mentorship with my employees who strive for more,” Akalp continues. “Whether they want to grow within the company, or perhaps have their own business ownership dreams, I am always available to chat and encourage my employees to go after anything they want in life.

“It’s not you, it’s us” 

Sometimes, when a business is just starting out, there just isn’t enough work or the work can be intermittent and scattered. This doesn’t mean small businesses don’t still require good employees.

Laurie Key, owner of GoGo Glam, a mobile shoe, handbag and accessory boutique that operates out of a 1976
 GMC RV in the San Francisco Bay area, says she faces just such an issue.

“One of the biggest challenges has been
balancing our need for a quality person, but not really having enough hours
to offer them,” she says. “We work weekends, evenings and
 lunchtime hours. Since we are just getting started, we have not had a
steady enough schedule to enable our employee to make enough money to
commit fully to us.”

Key, whose business is under a year old, said she’s hired another entrepreneur who runs a make-up constancy but needed some supplemental income.

Key pays her by the hour as a salesperson, and secondarily as the truck’s driver! The two are partnering on several projects ready to launch next fall as well.

“These ideas have helped her really mentally buy
into my business and have a very positive effect on her growth as well,” Key says. “It
 has also helped me offer her long term growth with my company, the busier
we get, the better it is for both of us.”

As Key says: Creativity is crucial when running a small business.

“It all comes down to thinking a
little bit out of the box, opening up ourselves to new possibilities, being
willing to take a risk and create a new way of doing business,” she says. “That's
really what entrepreneurs do, isn't it?”

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