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Small business guide: How your company can find and recruit the best job candidates

New technology has made it easier to connect with friends and family, co-workers and customers, even when they’re halfway around the world.

But what about connecting with job candidates?

“I hear it from so many small businesses, that hiring is just a nightmare for them,” said Brian Sutter, director of marketing for San Francisco-based Wasp Barcode Technologies, a software and technology company that works with small businesses. “But you’re starting to see some big data tools and Web services that are attacking that problem.”

Here are some of the ways employers are moving past help-wanted ads and career fairs:

Recruiting sites getting smarter

Online job boards are nothing new. Companies tell the site what they’re looking for in a candidate, job seekers input information about themselves, and the site works it magic and attempts to link up individuals with the right employers.

Only now, that magic is getting more sophisticated.

“In the big data world, there are some impressive tools coming out that skim through a bunch of different job sites, analyze way more data from resumes and recent hires, and can generate a much better, more targeted list of candidates for employers,” Sutter said. He added that hiring presents one of the toughest challenges to his small company, too.

One such service for technology companies, Sutter said, is Riviera Partners, a company based in Silicon Valley. The company has compiled a massive index of job candidates and uses curated data from across the Web and a unique scoring system to try to make the best matches between companies and job seekers.

“I think you are going to see more and more of those types of data-driven hiring services targeting small businesses,” Sutter said.

A missed opportunity

One expert says small businesses often overlook one of the most powerful (and virtually free) recruiting tools they have at their disposal — their Web site.

“It’s shocking how many small and start-up businesses have a site that has absolutely nothing about their founders and their company’s culture, or really anything at all about career opportunities,” Patricia Frame, who owns Strategies for Human Resources, a consulting firm in Alexandria, said. She estimates that more than half the companies she comes across don’t have a section like that on their Web site.

“All you need is one page somewhere that tells you why the company is wonderful and why you should want to work there,” Frame said. “It’s such a wasted opportunity.”

Internet offers a trove of information

Once you have gathered a handful of resumes for an opening, the vetting process kicks in — and that’s where some employers are finding the Internet an even more useful tool.

“Small businesses don’t usually have a separate human resources department, they can’t afford that,” she said. “So, what I see them using the Web for is not so much full-scale recruiting, but for digging a little deeper into candidates they’re already considering.”

Frame noted that recruiting firms can unearth a wealth of information about potential hires, but for employers who are strapped for cash, a quick spin on search engines and social media sites such as LinkedIn can often “turn up more than enough information to help you make a decision.”

J.D. Harrison covers startups, small business and entrepreneurship, with a focus on public policy, and he runs the On Small Business blog.



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