Small business owners everywhere have a problem: the economy is awesome.

There’s opportunity everywhere. It’s why we have so much business right now. And while an economy flush with cash is good for sales, it’s created another problem: lack of available talent.

Entrepreneurs everywhere are struggling to find and retain talent right now. And whatever your stance on unemployment benefits, reducing unemployment checks isn’t solving the problem

This issue isn’t just a frontline or entry-level worker issue; it’s happening at the most senior levels of organizations as well.

So what the heck is going on here?

One contributing factor is the lingering pandemic and all that goes along with it: safety concerns, lack of access to childcare, etc.

Another is the Great Resignation, the phenomenon leading people to question their priorities and, in many cases, move on from their current jobs

We could debate the causes (and people smarter than me certainly will), but right now, I’m more concerned about how business owners are going to manage this potential crisis.

To do that, you need to be tactical—and willing to get out of your own way.

How to Hire Employees Through Direct Outreach

Gone are the days when finding new employees was as simple as posting an ad online and getting a deluge of resumes. If what you’re doing right now isn’t working, you need to take your effort up a few degrees.

So yes, if ads have been successful in the past, put more investment behind them. Run them continuously instead of turning your talent pipeline on and off. Explore additional platforms.

But recruiting is marketing, and if I were you, I wouldn’t rely only on inbound leads. Leaders, it’s time for direct outreach.

Instead of waiting for candidates to come to you, go out and find them. Scour your LinkedIn connections. Make inroads into a new community. Show up in unexpected places where people might be looking for work.

Hand out business cards. Pass out flyers. Ask your senior leaders or your frontline staff: “Who else do you know who might want to work here?”

However you can, get the word out that you’re hiring, and then target potential employees with a direct invitation to move through your recruiting process.

How Head Trash Holds Business Owners Back in the Hiring Process

The #1 thing that will hold you back from taking these steps isn’t time (although I know that’s what you were thinking). It’s head trash.

Entrepreneurs will do anything to avoid seeming desperate, and seeking out talent makes you look desperate, right? 

Not necessarily. 

It makes you look engaged. It shows that you’re eager to hire. And it shows that as the business owner, you’re willing to carry your own bag and own talent acquisition (especially for senior level employees).

I’m not suggesting that you settle for subpar employees or adjust the steps of your hiring process. Instead, put in the boots-on-the-ground-work to fill the top of your recruiting funnel so that the best of the best filter through to the bottom. 

(Seriously, recruiting really is just another form of marketing.)

And own your urgent need for hiring talent by being honest about it. 

Turn “we’re desperate for people” into “We’re growing rapidly. We care deeply about our team and have extremely high standards. We want to find the best possible talent, and to do that, we are putting significant effort into finding the right people.” 

That kind of authenticity is inspirational, not off-putting.

To sum it up: if you need more talent, you’re going to have to work for it. 

Putting yourself out there might feel uncomfortable, especially if you’re used to being exclusive about your hiring process. Stay open and honest, and don’t let your head trash get in the way.

Now go out there and find those new team members!