January 22, 2021 | By Leressa

Small Business Recruitment Tips COVID-19

At the start of 2020, the economy was booming! Jobseekers were ghosting recruiters, rapidly changing roles, and enjoying happy paydays. Now, the COVID-19 emergency has created job losses for so many people across the country.  The job market has shifted from a jobseeker market to an employer market. Despite this shift, small businesses are facing the biggest challenges, competing for both funding and talent.

Uncertainty, budget cuts, and lack of benefits have job seekers feeling skeptical and insecure about returning to small businesses as their employer of choice. Since the summer, employees going to work at small- and medium-sized businesses has decreased by 23%.  According to a LinkedIn survey, small business confidence is declining with the increase in COVID cases. While some states did not decline at equal rates, trends exist across geographic regions.

Fortunately, industries like manufacturing, construction, restaurants and retail have restarted the hiring process.  However, these sectors still experience the greatest challenge attracting,  recruiting, and retaining top talent! While small businesses may not have the budget to sustain long-term, there are intentional ways to capture the competitive advantage. At the HR Small Business Alliance (HRSBA), we will continue to publish blogs, research, papers and resources to assist with impacts of COVID-19.

Here’s a few tips for recruiting COVID-19:

Health and Safety

45% of employees s are concerned about return to work policies. Everyday local, state and government agencies are releasing updates to legal ramifications related to employees and COVID-19. Most employers in small business are quoting the CDC and OSHA guidance in their handbooks. However, there is still a need for more clarification. Employees are equally concerned about vacation leave, PTO, and other benefits.  Leaders should revisit policies to determine best options for benefit enhancements. Mental health and wellness programming are two areas that will be critical for applicants. According to Inc.,  “small and mid-sized businesses can craft employee manuals that both protect them from litigation and put staff members at ease by spelling out in positive terms the company’s policies.” If you’re a small business and you don’t have a manual, reach out to HRSBA for assistance.


14% of employees trust that their CEO/leaders can lead them through this time of uncertainty. To alleviate uncertainty, it will be important to maintain transparency in communication. Organizations that provide multiple levels of communication from senior leadership will be more likely to promote trust and foster engagement among staff. Scheduling regular check-ins with staff and creating a safe space for them to share their questions and concerns are key priorities for 2021.


60% of employees want some flexibility in where/when they work. Although, it has been difficult to balance work and home life, working from home has been a welcome change. At the very least, most surveys indicate employees would select a hybrid work model. They would prefer to split time between the office and home.  Both employers and jobseekers were given a glimpse of how productivity can be improved when working remotely. This acknowledgement has been a catalyst for ushering in, what experts call, the Future of Work.  We will continue to learn more from research and other trends shaping the workplace post-COVID.


By being intentional about building diverse teams, you not only commit to diversity, equity, and inclusion, but you build diversity of thought. This strengthens your organizational agility, capability, and collaboration. You should hire employees that fall into all primary and secondary categories of diversity as illustrated by Harver whitepaper: The State of Diversity Recruiting in 2020 and beyond. There are many options for sourcing qualified diverse candidates. You can develop partnerships with diverse-based organizations such as HBCU network,  Operation Next (for veterans) and the Employer Resources Network on Disability and Inclusion (EARN). Taking these extra steps to research and reach out to organizations that are connected to diverse populations will build your awareness and increase your visibility to top diverse talent!

Diversity Resources

Figure 1: Dimensions of Diversity adapted from Harver


Most technical industries such as manufacturing and construction prepare students at both the community college and university levels. If you do not have knowledge of the educational institutions and degree offerings in your area, consider contacting your local community college or university. You may visit your statewide community college system, foir example,  North Carolina which has 58 community colleges. Here is a listing of community colleges  and colleges by state. You may also want to target industry-specific professional organizations such as Manufacturing Associations , or you can select professional organizations that represent both diversity of gender and ethnicity,  such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, and the National Association of Women In Construction.


When recruiting, there are many ways to source candidates. From temporary staffing services to using job posting platforms, employers need to evaluate what options will work best for them. Several considerations include, how many full- and part-time employees you have and your annual hiring outlook. If you have less than 50 employees, you may want to take advantage of our memberships that include several annual job postings for a fixed annual fee. If you work in a contract-based industry, like construction or IT, you may want to add gig or freelance sites to your recruitment strategy.  Sites such guru.com or  flexjobs.com have been increasing in popularity since the pandemic. Organizations have chosen to hire contract workers to reduce costs and extend skill sets. No matter the reason, the gig economy is here to stay.

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