National Federation of Independent Business

Small companies are fertile ground for job seekers

April 22, 2011: 11:11 AM ET

Hiring is starting to pick up again at firms with fewer than 500 employees. If you have only big-company experience, here's how to sell yourself.

By Anne Fisher, contributor

FORTUNE -- Dear Annie: Because of a career change my husband made, we recently moved to a new city hundreds of miles from where we used to live, and I'm now trying to find a job here. I've spent my whole 19-year marketing career so far at two Fortune 500 companies, which was great experience, but this town has no big employers. It does have many small ones, including some interesting startups that seem to be growing fast.

So what I'm wondering is, do hiring managers at small companies look askance at former middle managers from huge corporations? Is there anything I should emphasize in job interviews to increase my chances of getting hired? — No Bureaucrat

Dear NB: As you probably already know, businesses with fewer than 500 employees, which currently employ about half of the private-sector workforce, have been the main engines of U.S. job creation over the past 15 years, generating more than 70% of all net new jobs. Like their bigger brethren, small companies cut way back on hiring during the recession, but that's changing fast.

Consider: 54% of CEOs at small companies plan to add headcount over the next 12 months, up markedly from 46% last September, according to a Vistage quarterly survey called the CEO Confidence Index. More

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