I am part of a small but growing digital agency. As most small businesses know, hiring is a massive expense. We’ve gone through the steps of placing ads and interviewing, but are still finding it extremely difficult to stir up interest and get a robust pool of applications. What advice might you be able to offer?

Dave Davis




Employee recruiting in a small business is especially difficult. Part of the difficulty stems from the inability to use one of the best recruiting sources available to an employer: current employees. Still, small-business owners should utilize word-of-mouth with employees known by the owner in similar businesses.

Business owners may place their job descriptions on online job boards such as CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed, LinkUp and others. Keywords that describe a job and a company should be used extensively throughout the document. Job applicants use keywords in their searches for jobs and companies; so putting a generous number of these keywords into the job description is encouraged.

Another source of candidates is social networking sites such as Facebook and ­LinkedIn. These sites are useful for professional and managerial positions. Social ­networking sites also allow one to identify “passive candidates,” those not presently looking for a job, by tapping into sites such as LinkedIn Recruiter to review members’ résumés.

Finally, each state provides an employment service to all employers and applicants. The state of Minnesota’s job centers are an especially well-run and useful service.

A final caution: the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that all recruiting sources not discriminate on demographic factors such as gender, race, age, disability status and others. So checking the types of applicants responding to the firm’s advertisements to ensure nondiscrimination is also an important part of the recruiting process.

About the author


Mick Sheppeck, associate professor, Opus College of Business,

University of St. Thomas