What Small Businesses Want to See in Your Application

There is no way around it: job hunters searching for opportunities in this labor market should be considering jobs with small businesses. Since the financial crisis, small businesses have added an estimated 2.6 million jobs in the United States. Businesses that employ fewer than 500 employees are the engines of job growth in this sluggish economy. These enterprises encompass a wide range of industries and sectors, making a small business job a possibility for workers from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

1. Educational Background

Small businesses are always looking for dynamic employees who can quickly adapt to unconventional situations. The best signal for critical thinking and adaptability is a college education. Most workers should try to have at least a bachelor’s degree, even for positions that would not appear to directly use college knowledge. Remember: a college degree is not about what you know, it is about signaling to employers that you are disciplined and driven enough to accomplish a big goal like graduating from college. A degree will come in handy even for low-skill positions like manufacturing. A machinist with a college degree is more likely to be promoted to a higher paying management job than someone with only a high school diploma.

2. Framing Previous Experience

Employees who can integrate quickly with a close-knit team are valuable to a small business. Since most of these companies are run by family members, integrating as an outsider is essential to being successful. Look through your resume for experiences where you have had to adapt to challenging circumstances or make connections as an outsider. Your job as a cashier was probably not very impressive, but maybe you were the youngest person on staff and can frame your successes in terms of proving yourself to colleagues.

3. Strong Work Ethic

Small business owners need to get the maximum amount of labor out of their employees because they cannot hire a large staff. Increasing your appeal as a multifaceted employee will lead to more interviews and job offers than focusing on narrow skills or experiences. In summarizing a job — either in the resume or an interview — highlight a time when you had to adapt to changing circumstances or make due with limited resources. Experiences like those will highlight your flexibility as a worker. Finally, avoid using the word “dynamic” on a resume. It is one of the top five most overused words on resumes and will make your application blend in with everyone else’s. Instead, use words like “adaptable” or “versatile” which will make a resume pop.

4. Salary Range

When prompted for a desired salary, aim for ten percent below the average salary for your occupation. Small businesses are reluctant to hire expensive employees initially, but they are more willing to give raises and bonuses once employees prove their ability to contribute to the bottom line. Taking a small cut for a year may be worth above average salary and benefits later.

5. Career Goals

When asked about your career plans, direct the question away from yourself and towards what you can do for the company. Interviewers don’t want to hear about how the job will help you – even if they ask about it. They want to know what you can contribute. It is acceptable to answer a question about future plans by listing some of your best skills and emphasizing how they will help the company’s growth in the future.

Small business owners provide most of the new jobs in America, so using these five tips are important for landing a better job. Above all, small businesses care about their bottom line: emphasize your flexibility and willingness to deal with challenges, and you will be on your way to a successful interview.


About Author – Rosie writes on behalf of a number of businesses ranging from Auto-Enrolment Administration to holiday destinations. She enjoys reading design and technology blogs and baking sweet treats. Any opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the businesses Rosie writes for.


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