Recruiting describes the processes companies use to find qualified candidates to fill job openings. Some types of recruiting, such as college recruiting and networking, also serve to bolster the company's image among certain groups of potential employees. Effective recruiting is particularly important for small businesses, since finding and hiring talented employees is a key ingredient for growth. The Small Business Association publication Human Resources Management outlines three main steps in the recruiting process: assessing future personnel needs; developing a detailed description of the position to be filled and a corresponding profile of the person needed to fill it; and selecting the sources that will yield the best possible candidates. Throughout the recruiting process, small business owners must remain aware of the legal issues involved in hiring employees.

Assessing future personnel needs involves taking a close look at the company's expected workload, the capabilities of the current work force, the anticipated turnover, and the available labor supply. How the company stands in relation to these factors will help management to forecast future employment needs and develop a strategy to meet them. When a need has been identified, the next step is to perform a job analysis to collect information on all the tasks involved in the position and the types of skills, knowledge, and abilities required to do them. The job analysis leads directly to a job description, which defines all the duties and responsibilities of the position to be filled. Finally, the small business owner can use the job description to prepare a job specification—a written description of the person needed to fill the position. The job specification is the basis for recruiting, as it provides the standard against which applicants can be measured.

Next comes the actual search for candidates. In his book Hiring Winners, Richard J. Pinsker recommends that companies begin the search process as early as possible in order to generate a long list of candidates from which to choose. Even in the early stages of the hiring process, it is vital to consider the legal environment. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Employment Act of 1972 forbid discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status, or religion. Therefore, it is illegal for recruiters to inquire about an applicant's age, marital status, children, nationality, or church, and employers must be careful to avoid any mention of such issues in employment ads. It is also illegal to require candidates to submit a picture along with their applications.


There are a wide variety of sources available for small business owners to use in finding qualified applicants to fill job openings. Some of the most common sources include:

Other possible sources of recruiting leads include bankers, accountants, consultants, customers, competitors, and other professionals with whom the small business has regular contact. If the recruiting process is successful, the small business owner will have a substantial list of qualified candidates from which to select the one person who best matches the job specifications. The selection should be made through a formal screening process that may include an employment application, employment tests, and a personal interview. Each step in the process serves to narrow the field of candidates until a final selection can be made.


Nicholas, Way. "Talent War." Business Review Weekly. August 18, 2000.

Pinsker, Richard J. Hiring Winners. AMACOM, 1991.

Porter, Tom. "Effective Techniques to Attract, Hire, and Retain 'Top Notch' Employees for Your Company." San Diego Business Journal. March 27, 2000.

Roberts, Gary, Gary Seldon, and Carlotta Roberts. Human Resources Management. Small Business Administration, n.d.

Shealy, Jane. "Recruiting and Retaining Top Talent." Success. September 2000.

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