Small business owners' concern: finding good hires

One topic that really got them going: How to find good workers.

From a restaurant and specialty food shop owner looking for $9-an-hour customer service employees as well as highly-paid managers, to a law firm director of operations seeking attorneys expert in science and engineering as well as the law, they agreed: it's hard to find qualified personnel.

They convened at an event sponsored by Dell that was billed as a think tank for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Atlanta followed Miami as the second stop in the program's tour.

Alon Balshan, owner of Alon's Bakery & Market in Virginia Highland and Dunwoody, seemed to speak for many in the group when he said, "Finding the talent, the right people, it's been the single most difficult issue to resolve."

Jack Huddleston, director of operations for the intellectual property law firm Thomas/Kayden in Atlanta, said he has had a hard time finding talent, partly because the firm needs lawyers with highly specialized skills, and partly because it has to compete with much bigger practices.

He and others said it's especially difficult to find candidates who don't require a great deal of time-consuming and costly training.

A focus of the event was for small business owners to help each other, and all the hiring concerns that were voiced prompted some suggestions. The ideas included using  more social media, looking closely at people let go by downsizing companies, and getting  job candidate recommendations from current employees.

Employers also complained that besides being difficult to find, some qualified workers can be overly demanding.

Barbara Giamanco, president of Social Centered Selling, a provider of social media and sales training, referred to an "attitude of entitlement." One example she cited were  sales people unwilling to take commission positions, even in a job-poor economy.

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