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The Hiring Slump is Over. Now What?

December 17, 2009 Leave a comment

Obama’s job stimulus package will target several fronts to create more jobs for Americans, including green incentives to retrofit homes, building energy-efficient infrastructure and providing relief to small businesses across the country.  Between these initiatives and a bevy of other job stimulus strategies, it seems like a surefire plan to get the US job market back on track.

However, once this happens, and there is a surplus of job openings and available talent – then what happens?  For the past year and a half businesses have been in hibernation, attempting to run as lean as possible due to the economic downturn.

Downsizing has been the norm and hiring has definitely become somewhat of a rarity for the majority of US companies. When the job market picks up, and we have a surplus of talent as well as openings, how can businesses best get back on track and manage their resources for the hiring onslaught?

Open Up the Gates

Whether you are a small business that receives help from the stimulus or a larger company that suddenly gets a ton of green contract work; open up the gates to let the talent out there know that you are hiring again.  For the past year and a half you’ve probably let many of your new talent funnels get outdated – whether it be the employment section of your website, or a job board you regularly post to.  Take the time to make sure you are up to date with all the previous resources you utilized, as well as some new tactics that have emerged since you’ve been out of the hiring game.

Hiring Software

One new management resource for hiring that is constantly evolving is hiring software.  Modern day hiring software can make the lives of hiring manager and recruiters within your company far easier.  Not only does hiring software make recruiting simpler, it makes it more efficient.  Whether it is tracking a large number of job applicants, auto posting to job boards, sending out automated thank you letters or keeping up with a variety of statistics, hiring software can pretty much do anything nowadays.

Don’t Overdo It

Learn something from the past two years.  Running trim and slowing down your hiring lets you hone in on the important parts of your business: the cogs that are integral for survival.  Although the lean, mean days are starting to disappear, don’t suddenly jump into needless spending mode.  Get a hold of some statistics to determine what worked and what didn’t and capitalize on this newfound knowledge.

Top 5 Ways to Organize your Small Business

October 12, 2009 Leave a comment

blackboardRunning a small business or start up can be a daunting task because most of the primary day to day responsibilities often fall on the shoulders of one or two owners.  There are a multitude of tasks to keep track of, including accounting, hiring, marketing, financial forecasts and deadlines for clients.   Sometimes, it can be overwhelming for one person to juggle so many different tasks simultaneously.

I’d like to take a moment to go over several simple tools and methods to help small business owners keep track of and prioritize the various tasks involved in operations.

1.   Use a Whiteboard

Whether it’s a whiteboard, blackboard, bulletin board, or a simple notepad, try to keep a weekly log of primary tasks up front and center.  While there are a plethora of online programs and tools for organizing daily/weekly tasks, it helps to back it all up with a basic pen and paper list.    It is integral to have this weekly ‘grail’ to refer to when you hit a wall – try placing it in the center of your office for everyone to see.  Utilize different colors or check boxes to re-enforce accomplishments or the completion of a task.

2.  Use Google Documents

While Microsoft Word is still the standard in word processing, Google Documents has several advantages that make it the perfect online tool for inter & extra-office collaboration.   Need to brainstorm a list of potential clients for your wedding cake business?  Simply hop on Google Docs, create a new sheet, and share it with as many collaborators as you like.  The whole team can then log onto the document and make edits ‘live,’ to avoid the hassle of huge email chains or lengthy phone conversations.  Also be sure to try out Google Spreadsheets, a MS Excel alternative that allows you for seamless organization and collaboration.

3.  Use Recruiting Software

If you are a small business is the process of finding the best talent available, the task can become process intensive and  fairly complex.  Keeping track of multiple candidates, reviewing resumes and tracking progress can drastically slow your company’s forward movement.

One way to combat this small business brain freeze it to utilize a recruiting software package to track applicants, manage resumes, and provide a collaboration tool for your hiring managers.  Many modern day recruiting software solutions live completely online, making it incredibly simple to access and utilize with the click of a mouse.

4.  Prioritize with Flexibility

Sometimes, when it’s just you and 500 different tasks, there will be a tendency to jump from one task to another before completion. This can be good and bad.  It’s good to be flexible and not bang your head against any one task  if you aren’t making any progress.   Sometimes it helps to step back, breathe, and come back to something with a new outlook.   However, if your mind wanders too far and too often, nothing will end up done.  Try to find the balance between priority and flexibility that allows you to find a natural rhythm in completing weekly tasks.

5. Early Calls

If part of your business involves contacting potential clients, cold calling, emailing or collaborating with various individuals, I would suggest using the first half of the week for this.  People have the natural tendency to be more receptive during the first half of the week.  After Wednesday many potential business contacts begin to fade into their weekend shelters.  Getting a hold of these people on Monday or Tuesday will make the second half of your week far more productive.

Small Business Hiring Gains Fire Power

June 12, 2009 Leave a comment

prometheusWe are witnessing the end of an era.   Since the end of World War 2, large companies have controlled the ebb and flow of the US economy: from the reign of the Detroit automakers to the rise of west coast tech moguls like Microsoft and Google.   Small businesses have been the tiny vessels tossed in the wake of gargantuan tankers, forcing their products on consumers through sheer bulk.

The tides are changing though-  the failing American economy has exposed the incapability of big business, spotlighting bullheaded corporate practices and broken supply chains. The changing times have given way to opportunities for smaller businesses to navigate the economic waters through nascent, cost-effective technologies.   Unlike the slow moving behemoths of old, start-ups have the ability to rapidly change direction and adapt to newly minted consumer demands.  Young companies now have access to a plethora of new tools that utilize the internet to minimize costs and maximize efficiency.

One sector that highlights this onset of change between big and small is in the hiring arena.  A recent New York Times article zoned in on the big corporations of Silicon Valley, and how a ‘code of honor’ existed between several companies towards acquiring each other’s talent.    This unwritten pact between several large companies essentially directs their recruiters to stay away from hiring one-another’s star players.

From the New York Times:

Some veteran human resources executives said that hiring was not so much the issue; employees are free to look for work pretty much anywhere. But they say major companies often have an unwritten agreement to not actively poach employees from their partners.

“Most companies have a hands-off list,” said Ken Perluss, who recently left Yahoo as director for talent acquisition after more than 11 years with the company. “It tells recruiters, ‘Don’t recruit from this company. They are our partner.’ ”

These questionable practices have been observed to such an extent that several companies are currently under the watchful eye of the Justice Department for ‘anti-competitive’ practices.  If such practices are actually occurring, where does this leave smaller businesses who could utilize such star talent to an even greater degree?   In the Silicon Valley tech scene,  one great mind could make the difference between a start-up succeeding or failing.  Top level engineers are more likely thrive in innovative start-up environments than in corporate organizational hierarchies that often stifle creativity.

Small tech companies are already threatening larger ones through the development of innovative, viral, and cost-effective online applications.   It was only a few years ago that Facebook and Twitter were still specks on the map.  It is probable that larger tech companies are attempting to keep the recruiting advantage on their court through ‘gentleman’s agreements’ that prevents the transfer of talent to the next generation of Facebooks.

Small businesses and start-ups alike posses the technology to counter-balance these big-business-pacts.  New, simple and cutting-edge hiring software solutions allow small businesses to find and manage the best talent in the business.  In the days of old, providing a recruiting solution that adeptly encompassed recruiter collaboration, seamless applicant management, and easy online access would cost an arm and a leg. Today’s business class tools walk the path of consumer Web 2.0 applications that are meant to promote simplicity and collaboration at a reasonable price point.    Newton Software is one such solution which can allow small businesses to compete with larger corporations in acquiring the best talent on the market.

There are a plethora of other online tools that smaller business have begun to utilize to maximize their efficiency- from collaboration tools like Basecamp to data storage applications like Dropbox.  Even within large corporations like Google and Microsoft- external applications have begun to take off to bolster intra-company collaboration networks.

It would be naive to say big business will simply disappear into the night, suddenly replaced by a multitude of hungry young successors.   The climate will be sure to shift though: economic and technological progress will freeze the mammoths of industry and provide sure-footing for the smaller  innovators.  Perhaps one such innovator will be our next Prometheus, armed with the fire of  technology to light the way for the future.