5 More Small Companies Hiring Right Now

NEW YORK (MainStreet) -- President Barack Obama's jobs plan has renewed discussion on what it takes for small businesses to get hiring, but some businesses are already looking -- and finding it hard to get the talent they need.

In March, we looked at 10 small firms that were hiring. The group ranged from online advertising firms to construction companies to medical device producers.
Here are five businesses looking to hire but finding it hard to get the talent they need.

Six months later, companies looking for employees tip primarily to the online, software and social media space.

"The world is changing. Companies are using social media to a much larger extent," says John Challenger of executive search firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas. "Some of the money in the marketing budget devoted to other ways of reaching their customers is now being devoted to social media. That area is growing because it's making new impact on how companies reach their customers."

Another area is app development, Challenger points out.

"There are a lot of small companies that are developing apps for different markets as technology changes. It's all kinds of different of platforms. There's real hiring going on there, and it's often small businesses that are doing it," he says.

Yet it's hard to find resources, especially in the tech space, due to the competition for talent with larger, more established companies, some say.

Nationally, the unemployment rate may be over 9%, but within the tech space the percentage falls to about 3.3%, says Kathy Harris, managing director of Harris Allied, an executive recruiting firm specializing in placement services for the financial services and tech industries, citing Bureau of Labor statistics.

"That's very low," Harris says. "There is a huge demand."

Here are five small companies looking to hire:

1. Outright
Headquarters: Mountain View, Calif.
Current employees: 15
Seeking: Nine
Outright is the maker of software that streamlines small business' taxes and financial transactions into an online database.

Outright recently added two employees to its marketing team and is looking for additional engineers and marketers.

"We're hiring because our business is growing," CEO Steven Aldrich says. "We serve other small businesses. We're being asked by our customers to deliver more to them."

Aldrich himself is new to the team. He was hired in June after working with co-founders Ben Curran and Kevin Reeth, the former CEO, at Intuit ( INTU), when Reeth decided he wanted to stick to building product for Outright as opposed to daily management of the company.

"The environment is good for small businesses in the e-commerce space," Aldrich says, but there is competition for talent -- which means most candidates are not from the unemployment pool.

"Folks like Amazon ( AMZN) and eBay ( EBAY) are seeing growth and they have to deliver new features and capabilities," Aldrich says. "The people that we're trying to recruit at Outright are definitely in demand. They're receiving multiple offers, and the bigger companies are offering big salaries."

Outright is offering potential employees a chance to make a difference in a smaller, growth-oriented culture.

"When you come here the salary is competitive, but ultimately you're coming here because you like the people, you like the mission, you want to make a difference -- that's why people join small companies," he says.

If Obama's jobs plan reduces the cost it requires to bring on additional employees, Aldrich says, "that would allow us to hire more people and put it into benefits for them. It's not going to change my current hiring plan, but allow me to put more money to a salary vs. keeping it to pay for employees."

2. Headsets.com
Headquarters: San Francisco
Current employees: 35
Seeking: Three, possibly more by year-end
Headsets.com is not a new company -- it's been around for 14 years -- but is seeing enough pickup in business that CEO Mike Faith says it needs additional customer service reps.

"We're getting an increase in calls and inquiries about headsets," he says.

Headsets.com is an online-only retailer for, you guessed it, headsets for businesses and offices. Faith expects the company to end the year at $19 million in sales, with a 26% rise in sales next year.

"There is a certainly an increase year-over-year in business activity, so I think businesses are starting to be a little more comfortable with spending. And maybe because other companies are hiring, new hiring means new headsets, so that might have an impact as well," he says.

Like Aldrich, Faith sees applicants coming from the ranks of the already employed.

"I can only wonder if they've been unemployed for a while if they become disenchanted or are waiting for economy to get better," Faith says.

3. SwagBucks
Headquarters: Los Angeles
Current employees: 45
Seeking: Six
SwagBucks, an online rewards provider, is filling positions in various departments, including advertising and development, and looking for workers to help the company expand internationally.

"We are indeed hiring," COO Scott Dudelson says. "There are about five or six different positions we're looking to fill by virtue of the growth of our company. Every few months we're introducing new products; we're generating more revenue; we just need to keep growing the team."

The 3-year-old company, owned by parent company Prodege, says it's on track to generate $20 million in revenue this year.

"The overall goal of the company is to provide the most trusted rewards program on the Web," Dudelson says. "Every hire that we make is really toward the goal of this trusted reward community."

But finding good developers is challenging, Dudelson says. "We're in L.A. and a lot of the really good talent is up in the San Francisco Bay Area. A great, young developer gets recruited very quickly from the Googles ( GOOG) and Facebooks, but we're growing."

"Right now there is a lot of venture capital money being thrown to online startups. The industry hasn't seen this kind of money in years," he says. As a result, "there is an immediate need for a lot of these companies to be hiring and just doing extensive recruiting. It's a great time to be an Internet entrepreneur."

4. FiddleFly
Headquarters: Columbia, Md.
Current employees: Eight
Seeking: Eight
FiddleFly's software platform enables customers -- typically graphic designers or sales affiliates -- to create mobile websites for their customers almost instantly. The product was launched in April.

FiddleFly was launched out of another company, an online marketing and advertising agency called Web2Mobile.

"The idea came from there to open up a brand-new company," says FiddleFly's CEO, Alex Kutsishin.

The company is taking on customers quickly in the U.S. and internationally. FiddleFly needs sales consultants, graphic designers, Web developers, software engineers and social media experts, among other positions, Kutsishin says.

"In my mind, this is the second dot-com boom, meaning it's less expensive to do business over the Internet, you can cover a larger span geographically, there is a lot of creativeness in the online space right now and we've only see the tip of the iceberg," he says.

"Our product is opening up jobs all over the place. All the affiliates that we have that are re-selling our product are bringing on people strictly to sell this product. It's great that were creating jobs secondhand via this platform," he says.

5. Gogobot
Headquarters: Menlo Park, Calif.
Current employees: 11
Seeking: 11 over the next year
Social media travel site Gogobot, which allows users to tap into their personal networks on Facebook or Twitter to get and share travel advice, is hiring.

"Essentially it's a next-generation travel planning site -- a new way of thinking about how you get recommendations" from friends and family as opposed to anonymous sources, CEO Travis Katz says. "It's a much more personalized experience."

The company has the blessing of a number of high-profile investors and venture capital backers, such as Google's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

The travel industry is a massive $260 billion market, with online travel planning continuing to grow particularly as former offline sources migrate online, says Katz, the former general manager of MySpace's international efforts until launching Gogobot in November.

"Online travel is a very hot space. When you combine that with social media -- it's putting together two of the hottest sectors together online," Katz says.

Gogobot is looking for software engineers and designers to fill out its offering. The company has brought in several developers from outside the U.S. as competition remains intense for the highest-skilled workers.

"For a small company like ours, we can't compete with a Google in terms of the salary we can pay. The big part of the interest is the ability to create something new and different," he says. "If you're looking for just a paycheck you won't go to a startup."

Personality plays a factor in employee hires, Katz adds.

"The people who are looking for a comfortable lifestyle and like things that are slow-paced won't work in our company," he says. "One of the biggest things we screen for right is the personality for a startup."

-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.

To follow Laurie Kulikowski on Twitter, go to: http://twitter.com/#!/LKulikowski

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