How To Hire Good Employees for Your Small Business

How To Hire Good Employees for Your Small Business

In order to achieve the vision you have for the success of your small business, you’ll need to find and hire the right employees. Particularly in small businesses with a limited number of employees, each individual must be willing to take on multiple responsibilities and be committed to the organization's growth.

Identifying individuals with the necessary skills and traits to thrive in your company can be challenging. However, hiring new team members who can perform at high levels will make your job easier by helping to increase productivity, innovation, and financial success.

This article will help your small business navigate the process of recruiting new workers, provide guidance on where to find the most qualified candidates, explain the various steps in the hiring process, and give several tips for hiring effectively.

Hire the best employees

What makes a good employee?

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, there are over 33 million small businesses in the United States, accounting for 99.9% of all businesses in America. Therefore, it’s no surprise that small businesses help to drive the economy and contribute to job creation, innovation, and economic growth.

Each business and industry has different requirements for a good employee. Small businesses have distinct needs compared to large corporations, which often have established procedures in place and seek candidates with specialized skills for specific departments.

Conversely, small businesses are often still developing the most effective ways to work and may not have well-established processes. These businesses typically require employees who can handle multiple tasks, contribute to the organization's growth, and adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Ultimately, the best small business employees treat the business as if it is their own. They take ownership of their responsibilities, believe in the business's purpose and offerings, and are motivated to contribute to its success. They are adaptable and willing to wear multiple hats.

What to know before finding good employees

Be clear on the open position's responsibilities and requirements before beginning the recruitment process. Small-business owners must identify the job’s specific needs to create a job description that accurately reflects what the company is looking for in a new employee.

This job description should outline the candidate’s job duties, required qualifications, education, experience, and desired skills and traits. A well-crafted job description helps small businesses identify specific job needs and also serves as an initial screening tool to attract the best candidates. A prospective hire should be able to self-determine whether they are or aren’t a good fit by reading this document.

Where to find the best employees for your small businesses

Although finding the ideal team members can be a daunting task, numerous resources are available to assist you in connecting with individuals who are the best fit for your company.

The following is a list of online platforms and recruitment strategies to help you find top talent for your small business.


Upwork is an excellent resource when looking for talented workers to join your team. Upwork’s online talent marketplace  provides access to a large pool of workers from various industries.

Hiring freelancers has several benefits, including quick access to qualified candidates, a wide range of skills and expertise, and cost-effectiveness (since you only pay for completed work).

Upwork Full-Time allows you to engage contractors to work on a full-time basis, like traditional employees. You can post your job opening, review resumes and portfolios, and interview potential candidates directly on the platform.

If you want to quickly and easily expand your team, Upwork Full-Time is a great place to start your search.

Job posting sites

Job boards like LinkedIn offer an alternative way to find employees for your small business. These platforms allow you to post job openings and reach a wide audience of job seekers. You can also search for potential candidates using filters like location, experience level, and skills.

While sifting through applications will take time and effort, job posting sites can be a good option if you're looking for a cost-effective way to find employees.

Social media

Your company’s social media following can provide a pool of potential candidates already familiar with your business's objectives, culture, and values. Leverage your social media presence to save time and money in the recruitment process.

Post open positions on your social media channels and encourage your followers to apply or share with their network. This can foster a sense of community and loyalty among your followers.

Word of mouth

Networking through word of mouth is a common means of finding potential candidates for a small business. Recommendations often come from individuals who have personally worked with or know the candidate.

Be certain you trust the individual providing the referral before moving forward with the candidate. Conducting a thorough interview process and background check can help you be confident you're making the best hiring decision for your business.


Encouraging current employees to refer candidates can be another effective way to expand your candidate pool beyond your usual reach.

As insiders, current employees deeply understand your company's goals, objectives, and culture. This gives them an excellent perspective for judging whether a candidate they know would be a good fit for the team.

Referrals from trusted colleagues also provide an added layer of assurance that the candidate is dependable and capable of working well with the existing team.

These referrals can also benefit your current employees, as they may feel more invested in the company’s success by bringing in new talent.

How to hire employees for your small business in 5 steps

Hiring steps:

  1. Screen applicants and schedule interviews
  2. Interview the candidates
  3. Determine the best candidates
  4. Reach out with job offers
  5. Begin the onboarding process

As a small-business owner focused on the core elements of your endeavor, having the time and resources to find the perfect fit for your team can be challenging. The good news is that a well-structured hiring process can make all the difference.

From screening potential hires to completing an  onboarding process, we’ll take you through the exact steps you need to make your hiring process a success.

1. Screen applicants and schedule interviews

After posting a job listing and receiving a significant number of applications, the next step is to review each application thoroughly. This requires careful attention to detail and a clear understanding of the specific qualifications, skills, and experience you seek in a worker.

Take note of key criteria that align with your requirements as you review each application, such as educational background, work experience, and relevant skills. Then, select the top candidates and contact them to schedule an interview.

2. Interview the candidates

While resumes provide descriptions of candidate experience and qualifications, interviews can reveal deeper insights into a candidate's soft skills, cultural fit, and technical expertise.

Use a mix of standard and unique questions to get the most out of an interview. Standard questions like "What is your greatest strength?" can help you assess the candidate’s self-awareness.

Unique questions, like "Tell me about a time you worked with a difficult team member," can uncover the potential hire's personality, values, and motivations.

Include specific questions related to working remotely if the position involves working outside the typical office environment.

3. Determine the best candidates

Now that the interviews are complete, it's time to analyze the information and narrow your options to the top candidate or candidates. This may involve a combination of factors, such as their qualifications, experience, skills, personality, and cultural fit.

Many interviewers find rubrics or standardized assessment forms helpful to strive for objectivity in this analysis. Set up rating criteria before conducting any interviews. If possible, involve multiple interviewers and share thoughts before making the final decision.

4. Reach out with job offers

Before sending a job offer to the desired candidate, your business must determine the financial compensation and any other conditions of the job offer. Provide a clear and detailed offer letter, including all relevant details and expectations for the role.

Keep in mind that the job offer is just the beginning of the negotiation process; being open to discussion and compromising with the candidate can lead to a successful hire.

5. Begin the onboarding process

The hiring process doesn’t end when the job offer is accepted. The onboarding process is the next important step, laying the foundation for the employee's success in their new role.

The goal of onboarding is to ensure the employee is properly trained and integrated into the company culture. This can lead to higher job satisfaction and improved performance. Research indicates effective onboarding could improve new hire retention rates by 82%.

Hiring tips for your small business

Finding the right talent for your small business can be difficult, as you must consider various factors including the specific needs of your business, the candidate’s qualifications and experience, and the current job market conditions.

Below are several tips that can help simplify the hiring process and increase your chances of hiring a top-notch candidate.

1. Clarify your wants versus needs regarding candidates

Distinguish between essential qualifications and desirable skill sets to find the best fit for your business’s needs. This means being clear on what you truly need from a candidate vs. what you would find nice to have.

A tech startup may need a software developer with experience working with a specific programming language to succeed in that role. While a candidate without that experience may develop proficiency at some point, the business may not have the time to wait.

A small marketing agency looking to hire a social media specialist may want candidates with a large social media following, though this is not a mandatory requirement for the job.

2. Know your company values

When searching for the right candidate to join your small business, remember that they will significantly impact how your company operates and how customers perceive it. If you haven’t already done so, you need to clearly understand and articulate your company values, mission, and objectives so you can find a candidate who embodies these factors.

Let’s say your small business places a high value on exceptional customer service. You should hire someone who shares this value and has a track record of providing outstanding customer experiences.

3. Pay attention to your job post

Your online presence is always subject to scrutiny. A job posting could be a candidate's initial interaction with your business. Because of this exposure, your job description should reflect your employer branding and mission to appeal to the best-suited candidates.

This means highlighting your company's values, culture, and characteristics that set you apart from the competition. Being specific about the required job responsibilities and qualifications can help narrow the pool of applicants to those with the skills and experience your business needs.

4. Prepare the most fitting questions for your interviews

Prepare a set of interview questions that accurately relate to the position to ensure you select the right person for the job. This will help you understand how the candidate will react in specific job-related situations.

Your questions should cover both soft and hard skills; both are typically needed for success in multifaceted positions in a small business. For instance, questions like "Can you describe a time when you made a mistake at work and how you handled it?" can give insight into a candidate's communication and problem-solving abilities.

Similarly, questions like "What specific design tools do you have experience using?" can help you assess a candidate's technical skills and proficiency in relevant software or tools.

Asking a far-reaching set of questions can provide a better understanding of the candidate's abilities and how they will interact within the role. This will help you accurately assess whether the candidate is the right fit for the position and your business.

5. Look for candidates in the right places

To find the right candidate for your small business, you need to look in the right places. Often, the best candidates are actively seeking employment or are open to new opportunities.

As a small-business owner, you may not have the time or resources to advertise job openings widely or sift through many applications. This is where online platforms like Upwork can come in handy.

Find the best candidates on Upwork

Finding the right talent for your small business can be a challenging but essential task. Understanding your company's needs, creating an accurate job posting, and asking relevant interview questions can increase your chances of hiring the perfect fit for your team.

Upwork can be a valuable resource when it comes to finding the right people for your team.

Upwork's platform allows you to post job listings and search for freelancers with specific skills, experience, and qualifications. With a pool of skilled professionals from around the world, Upwork makes it easy to find and hire the perfect fit for your project, potentially leading to a lasting employment relationship.

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Author Spotlight

How To Hire Good Employees for Your Small Business
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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