NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- You've seen the news. Small-business optimism is improving; firms are considering hiring, if they aren't already; and this year we should see more jobs created.
After several years of downsizing, slowly but surely companies are preparing for growth and need the resources to back that up -- meaning people.
Small businesses contributed nearly half of the February private-sector jobs, most in services, according to the
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National Employment Report.
The National Federation of Independent Business, which puts out a monthly confidence index of small businesses, said February's index reading was the third-best since the fourth quarter of 2009 -- when the economy was still expanding -- even with the economy tip-toeing forward.
Large and midmarket companies have already been hiring, and "now you've got small businesses that are starting to hire once again," says Jennifer Dunleavy, founder of The Accuro Group. "There is a high demand for talented people."
That being said, "companies of any size are being extremely conservative about the commitments they make, and in doing so it's taking a little bit longer to pull the trigger," Dunleavy says.
Mark Douglas, CEO of online advertising company
, is looking for employees, primarily specializing in technology, client services and sales and marketing. The hiring he and other firms do will have a trickle-down effect, he says.
"I think there is a pretty strong recovery coming in the job market across the board. It's just coming in different waves," Douglas says. "My cleaning staff has to clean the office more now because there are more people," and that could require the cleaning team to bring in more workers.
>>Hiring Heats Up: Companies Hiring in 2011
With such a large pool of unemployed workers to choose from, a logical assumption would be that any firm would have their pick of qualified applicants seeking jobs.
But that's not the reality.
While firms are hiring, many say they are looking for the "upper crust" of talent, such as highly skilled engineers who are most likely already employed. As a result, firms complain they're collecting applications mainly from unqualified workers.
Whether businesses are looking for 25 employees or one employee, here are 10 companies in hiring mode: