- More than half of small businesses plan to increase hiring in 2019, according to a survey from the B2B ratings and reviews firm Clutch. Nearly 40% of the survey's 529 small businesses aim to direct hiring towards sales and marketing roles, while 36% are hiring for customer service positions and 32% are looking to fill IT roles.
- Experts cited by Clutch say the survey's findings may underestimate actual job growth among small businesses in 2019. There are 1 million more open jobs than unemployed people, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, so U.S. small businesses must think about how they can attract talented candidates in an economy that offers workers many options, Clutch said. And since some small businesses don't have in-house HR expertise, Clutch said these employers may need to be creative about their recruitment strategies and benefits offerings.
- CEO Brian Weed of Avenica, a recruiting firm for new college graduates, said in a statement provided by Clutch that sales and marketing, customer service and IT positions might be popular because they directly support customer growth. "Over the last few years, it's been a pretty strong growth market, and those are the types of positions that support growth — either salespeople who are going to create the initial demand or customer service [people] who are going to work with the new demand that comes in," Weed said.
The trend toward hiring for customer growth roles among small businesses may not necessarily mean those roles are filled by full-time workers, according to research from Paychex. The firm found that hiring growth among small businesses has been stronger for independent contractors than for full-time workers. Researchers believe the trend may indicate smaller employers are struggling to compete for talent in the current market.
Wage and job growth for U.S. small businesses has also fallen in the past year, according to analysis by IHS Markit and Paychex. August 2018 marked a low point for the two firms' index, including the lowest monthly score on the index since December 2010. At the same time, the number of weekly hours worked increased among small business employees, potentially indicating that workers were being asked to make up for the slowdown.
Small businesses in recent reports blame the skills gap, as well as the fact that competitors can offer larger benefits packages and higher wages, for talent troubles. Compounding these issues is that small businesses lack some of the recruiting levers afforded to larger competitors — 40% don't even have a website, according to a recent survey by Visual Objects.
No business can afford not to invest in sales and marketing, and small businesses will need to hire or train workers who can help them promote and sell their goods and services and overall brand to gain market share. IT expertise might help such firms initiate the type of digital transformation that companies of all sizes need to make. And by focusing on customer service, small businesses will need to hire people who can generate sales through solid customer engagement — aka strong soft skills.