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Small business vacancies reach new high

24 May 2022

As the number of small business job vacancies soars above 500,000, a new study has investigated what small business owners are looking for in their next employee.

Small business job vacancies have hit a record high of 575,000, up by 72% from the same period last year. With unemployment at a 50-year low of 3.7%, it suggests that there may be more roles than people to fill them. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), a record number of people are also moving between jobs as they seek out the best terms and conditions, driven by the rising cost of living.

For small firms, recruiting the right candidate is vital; a new study has found that business owners say personal attributes are more important than qualifications and professional skills. Research conducted by iwoca has found that honesty is the top attribute that small business owners are looking for when hiring (cited by 44%), followed by a good personality (38%).

Other key attributes that business owners are looking for include:

  • A skill set that matches the job description (37%);
  • Experience in a similar position (37%);
  • Good verbal communication skills (34%).

However, just 6% said that they look for candidates with undergraduate degrees. Getting hiring right is essential for future success according to business owners; one in six (15%) say poor hires prevent future company growth and one in ten (11%) say it leads to fewer sales.

The research suggests that one way to ensure your new hires meet their potential is by offering them the opportunity to work from home. Of those businesses that offer flexible working, nearly half (42%) said that flexible working arrangements had a positive effect on productivity, compared to just 7% who said it had a negative impact. Millennial business owners are more likely to offer working from home than older generations by eight percentage points (43% compared to 35%).

Seema Desai, chief operating officer at iwoca, said: "Small businesses employ over two-thirds of the nation's workforce. Some of the perceived barriers to applying for a job, such as having a degree, might not be as high as some job seekers think they are. Our research reveals the importance of strong personal skills when applying for roles, and the importance of hiring to the future growth of any business."

Written by Rachel Miller.

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