Talent: Finding the Right People With the Right Skills

Feb 20, 2024 | Uncategorized

When we start off as women business owners, we have the sole power to make or break our success. But as we grow and take on new team members, we’re putting some of this power in the hands of others, making it critically important to find hardworking, talented people who understand and embrace our mission, vision and culture.

According to SCORE’s most recent Employee Engagement Report, 84.3 percent of small business participants report challenges with hiring new employees. Additionally, 33 percent cite retaining and motivating existing employees as a top concern.

NAWBO members agree, according to our 2023 membership survey conducted in partnership with ADP. They told us they have struggled to hire in the years coming out of the pandemic. Finding the right talent, with the right skills, is a top challenge, and many reported a lack of applicants as well as losing talent to competitors.

As women small business owners, without a doubt it can be hard to compete with large businesses that have stronger name recognition, higher salaries and a dedicated recruitment team. But so many successfully do and grow to impressive levels (just look at the women who are part of NAWBO’s $1 million+ Circle program).

Let’s talk about some top strategies you can apply to your business:

  • Start With a Clear Picture: Before embarking on a hiring journey, get a clear understanding of the role and its requirements. Create a detailed description that attracts candidates and provides a clear picture of what the role entails.
  • Use Today’s Digital Tools: Use all the tools available to you in today’s world to significantly increase your candidate pool. This includes popular job boards, social media platforms and professional networking sites (leverage your NAWBO network here, too).
  • Have a Compelling Brand: Showcase your “employer brand” that includes culture, values and unique selling points—like being woman owned. Highlight employee success stories and create a positive online presence through your website and social media.
  • Evaluate Cultural Fit: Cultural fit is just as important as skills and experience, so be sure to evaluate it as part of your process. A candidate who aligns with your values and working style is more likely to fit in and contribute positively to the team.
  • Prioritize Soft Skills: Yes, technical skills are important. But don’t overlook soft skills. Effective communication, teamwork, adaptability and problem-solving are all qualities that contribute to a well-rounded and successful employee. Often you can help a candidate learn specialized skills over time, but we often can’t teach people to care. Consequently, screening for this character trait is critically important.
  • Check References Thoroughly: Do not skip this step. A thorough reference check that includes asking about their suitability for your specific job description can uncover red flags and provide a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate.
  • Be as Competitive as Possible: Know the industry standards and adjust your salary and benefits as much as possible. Get creative and offer additional perks such as a flexible work schedule and development and wellness opportunities.
  • Onboard for Long-Term Success: Once you have the right candidate, provide the necessary resources, training and support to help them hit the ground running. Onboarding sends the message that you value them and are invested in their success.

Lastly, let’s talk about another tool for differentiating your business and attracting the right candidates and customers—and that’s certification. Getting certified as woman-owned and/or minority woman-owned validates your business and opens doors of opportunity.

Wishing you the right people with the right skills for your next hires!

—Lisa Coppola
2023-2024 NAWBO National Board Chair
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