SMB Execs More Likely to Make Bold Moves When Hiring

C-level leaders see their organizations as more diverse and more objective and bias-free in hiring decisions than their colleagues, a study finds.

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Nearly 70 percent of small business executives trust their gut and are willing to stake their reputation on making a hire who may not look the part, but whom they believe is the right candidate, according to a Jazz survey of 267 small business professionals.

Just over half (54 percent) of executives would pass on a safe hire to take a risk on a potentially transcendent performer.

C-level leaders also tend to give candidates the benefit of the doubt, and are far more likely than business function leaders to take a chance on an unconventional hire, with 42 percent willing to compromise on hiring standards and settle for less -- a stark contrast to the 15 percent of functional leaders who would do the same.

"There were a few surprises in this study, but one of the biggest trends we saw was a disconnect between the C-suite and other leaders or recruiting managers when it comes to hiring," Don Charlton, CEO of Jazz, told eWEEK. "The data clearly shows that C-level leaders have a rosy tint on reality compared to those closest to hiring decisions—when we asked whether their company is ready to hire top performers, we saw a 20 percent delta between the C-suite and mid-level leadership. That’s huge."

The study also indicated C-level leaders see their organizations as more diverse and more objective and bias-free in hiring decisions than their colleagues. They’re also significantly more willing to take risks on unconventional hires.

"It would be impossible to pinpoint a singular reason for this gap, but this could be a symptom of the fact that C-level executives are often removed—even shielded—from some of the day-to-day reality of running their business," Charlton said. "C-level leaders need to be visionaries, and it can be hard to see the reality of where your company stands now when you’re laser-focused on where you’re going."

To compete in the talent wars, SMB executives are willing to make bold moves to attract the best candidates, with 60 percent of C-level executives and 47 percent of HR/recruiting managers admitting they would poach from the competition.

In addition, 32 percent of executives and HR/recruiting managers would allow a candidate to customize their job title once hired, as would 49 percent of C-level executives.

"In the very near future, we’ll see businesses compete for holiday season employees, which of course will affect retail businesses heavily," Charlton said. "But longer term, small businesses will need to adopt new strategies, tactics and even technologies to attract top talent. By engaging with quality candidates where they are, from social media to college campuses and beyond, and reinforcing the unique benefits a career in small business can have toward their own professional goals, they can position themselves to win."