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How to Recruit as a Small Business Owner

Steve Browne, HR professional and CareerBuilder contributor

It amazes me that in this day and age, most of us overlook the small businesses all around us. We instead get so enamored with gigantic companies and their brands. While it’s true these large companies get more publicity and visibility, they make up a very small portion of companies compared to the massive total of organizations that exist.

Why the call out to the smaller workplaces? It’s simple. Larger organizations are fortunate to have more resources and the ability to have dedicated departments and staff for the various faces of a business. Small organizations, on the other hand, take on multiple roles all at the same time. It’s feasible that you can be operations, marketing, HR, finance, sales, administration, and clean up the break room all in the same day.

Since small business owners take on so many roles, each area tends to gets attention and focus only when there’s a need; having the ability to step back and plan ahead is few and far between. So, when an employee leaves your company and there is a job to fill, it puts pressure on that didn’t exist just the day before. If your small business is growing, it’s even more challenging, because you want the best people to join you and help you continue to grow. You don’t have the luxury of a full-time recruiter, let alone a staff of recruiters, to help you. What can you do?

Here are five ways to recruit as a small business owner that are a bit unconventional (but they work):


The first step is to breathe. That may seem trite, but it’s needed before you randomly hire someone just because there’s a hole to fill. When you decide to add someone to your organization, it should matter to you because it’s an opportunity for you to change someone’s life for the better. A calm and clear head is an important place to begin.

Know your team.

When you’re ready to recruit, talking to your current staff is the first place to start. Why? Two reasons: First, you already know how they perform, and second, great team members will recommend other great folks. It’s often an untapped avenue that companies overlook. The strong performers and supporters of your company will be excited to bring people they know into the fold to help you and the company succeed.

Be active in your local community.

Again, this may seem odd, but the majority of positions are filled through networking connections. So, if you’re not connected to your local chamber of commerce, get connected and be visible. The same holds true for local schools and universities. Let them know you’re an active employer in the area, and mention that you’d love to be a place where the talent they’re educating can come check your organization out as a place to land and thrive.

Tap your local human resources groups. 

You may not be able to have a human resources practitioner or recruiter on your staff, but there are human resources organizations all over the country that can provide you with avenues to post jobs, source candidates and even give you advice on the best way to interview, hire and acclimate new employees.

Develop roles and responsibilities.

Take the roles you currently have in your company and develop a picture of what those jobs do, how they add value and how they contribute to your business. This is different than making job descriptions. You know what roles and skills you need in order to run productively. Have all of the roles listed in a file or a book, so that when a position opens because of someone leaving your organization, you’re not rushing to recreate what you need for your next hire. It will also give you a holistic picture of how all of the great people you already have make you thrive.

Having an approach to recruit when you need to don your recruiting hat is necessary. Take the time to put your approach together. That way, when the time comes it will be natural and you’ll handle it as well as you do all areas of your business.


About the author: Steve Browne is the Executive Director of Human Resources for LaRosa’s, Inc. — a regional Pizzeria restaurant chain in the Midwestern United States with 18 locations and over 1,200 team members. Steve has been a human resources professional for more than 25 years and has worked in the manufacturing, consumer products, and professional services industries. Additionally, Steve runs an internet message board for human resources professionals that reaches more than 6,000 people worldwide on a weekly basis.

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