Big banks are stumbling, big companies are struggling, and big government is having plenty of its own problems. All in all, it looks like a better time for talent to start landing in small businesses.
"Many companies, including small businesses, are thinking about building and strengthening their teams and leadership depth - recognizing they can build deeper, stronger functional leadership teams with the talent available today," says Kim Bishop, a vice chairman of Slayton Search Partners. "It is an opportunity to invest in the future, and not just focus on surviving the current times."
It could be a shock. Join a small business and there likely won’t be fat bonuses, corporate jets and far-flung conferences at four-star resorts. There will be possibilities, though.
"There are very talented candidates available for the first time to smaller firms who would not in a good market be attracted to anything other than another large organization," says Jeanne Branthover, managing director for Boyden Global Executive Search. "Candidates are disillusioned by the large firms and are open to smaller more entrepreneurial firms where they will add value quickly and not be just a number to be eliminated in a large organization."
Business owners are recognizing the growing pool of available talent. In the past, they’d be skeptical to hire from large firms “fearing the individuals would not roll up their sleeves and wear many hats which is often necessary and expected in small firms," Branthover says. "The fit is no longer a stretch or a risk to a small business owner."
Not everyone will fit in with a smaller company structure, at least not right away, when coming from the corporate ladder. There’s a high risk of “organ rejection” with big-company executives going into small enterprises, Johnson says. "Advertising in this market will lead to a deluge of candidates that will soak up resources to wade through. Companies should use a very strategic, focused and precise targeting approach that does not waver from their 'ideal' candidate profile. Just because there is an abundance of supply does not mean one should compromise their standards, or settle."
One of the biggest hurdles that former corporate employees will need to get over, experts say, is the idea that mega-companies are the best and safest place to be. With the collapse of Bear Sterns, Merrill Lynch and Lehman Brothers (and whomever else is next), its safe to say that that is not the case anymore. Politicians always love to say how much they care about the small business of America and how they are the heart and soul of this country. It might finally be time to agree with politicians and realize that small business are the future and way out of this mess.