Home Business Small business owners look for personal rather than professional skills when hiring 
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Small business owners look for personal rather than professional skills when hiring 

by uma


  • Small business owners reveal that personal skills trump professional and education when hiring.
  • The findings reveal that honesty is the top attribute that small business owners look for when hiring (49%), followed by a good personality (38%).
  • However, just 6% said that they look for candidates with undergraduate degrees and 37% require experience in a similar position.  
  • Getting hiring right is essential for future success as one in six business owners reveal poor hires prevent future growth and one in ten say it leads to fewer sales.
  • These findings come as SMEs are on the lookout for new talent with small business vacancies at 575,000 – up by 72% from the same period last year.

(May 24, 2022; London) As small business vacancies hit record highs, owners are increasingly looking for personal skills rather than professional ones when hiring, according to new research conducted by iwoca.

The new survey compiled by the small business lender reveals the most important things small business owners look for in new hires and what impacts their hiring decisions. 

Personal skills trump professional and education in the race for jobs 

The findings reveal how important personal skills are when hiring. Almost half (49%) of small businesses owners believe that honesty is one of the most important things to look for when hiring and two in five (38%) said they prioritise a good personality. 

These are followed by more traditional professional attributes including skill sets which match the job description (37%), experience in a similar position (37%) and good at verbal communication (34%). 


Top 5 attributes SME owners look for Percentage of respondents
Honesty 44%
Good personality 38%
Skill set which matches the job description 37%
Experience in a similar position 37%
Good at verbal communication 34%


Among the least important attributes was having an undergraduate degree, with just 6% of small business owners thinking that an undergraduate degree is important when recruiting for positions in their business. 

Getting recruitment right is essential for business success

Hiring the right people can have a huge impact on a business. One in six (15%) small business owners say that poor hires prevent future company growth. In addition, one in ten (11%) say it leads to fewer sales. 

The research suggests that one way to ensure your new hires meet their potential is by offering them the opportunity to work from home. Of those that do offer flexible working, nearly half (42%) explained that flexible working arrangements had a positive effect on productivity, compared to just 7% who said it had a negative impact.

Millennial business owners are more likely to offer working from home than older generations by eight percentage points (43% compared to 35%).

Small businesses are looking to bolster their ranks

These findings come as small businesses are on the lookout for new talent with small business vacancies at 575,000 – suggesting that there may be more roles than people to fill them. This number has increased by 72% from the same period last year

Seema Desai, Chief Operating Officer at iwoca said: “Small businesses employ over two thirds of the nation’s workforce. Some of the perceived barriers to applying for a job, such as having a degree, might not be as high as some job seekers think they are. Our research reveals the importance of strong personal skills when applying for roles, and the importance of hiring to the future growth of any business.”

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