The Hardest-to-Fill SMB Roles in Canada Right Now

Small to medium size businesses (SMBs) are critical to the Canadian economy. Not only do they account for 98% of businesses in the country, but they employ 8.2 million people.

While there are many advantages to working at a small company – such as more responsibility and the opportunity to work in multiple areas – the competition for talent is fiercer than ever. As Canada’s low unemployment persists, filling open positions is becoming harder. In fact, in a recent survey, 59% of SMBs said that it’s difficult or somewhat difficult to find the right employee for their business. And it hasn’t gotten easier – just over one-quarter of SMBs said it’s harder to hire now than it was five years ago.

On Indeed, we’ve seen many SMBs struggle to fill roles, with some positions remaining open for more than 60 days. What roles are most likely to go unfilled for two months or longer? Indeed’s data team analyzed SMB job postings and determined which ones were open for longer than 60 days. Let’s take a look at the data.

Sheet Metal Mechanic is the hardest-to-fill SMB role

Sheet Metal Mechanic ranks number one on our list. Not only is the position the hardest to fill but it’s also among the fast-growing SMB jobs, which heightens the competition for candidates with these skills.

Following sheet metal mechanic is tire technician, someone who installs, repairs and rotates tires, which is also joined by two other vehicle-related professions: RV technician, who diagnoses, inspects and repairs recreational vehicles, ranks fifth. Coming in at number seven is tow truck driver, which relies on older workers to fill this position. As Canada’s aging population enters retirement, this could pose a challenge for employers looking to fill this position. In fact, “Jobs involving driving for delivery services or trucking companies or bus services are among the online blue-collar postings that attract more clicks from retirees,” according to Brendon Bernard, economist at Indeed.

The beauty sector also makes an appearance on the list. Aesthetician ranks number three, which is likely influenced by the expansion of the spa industry, increasing the demand for this role. Barber, coming in at number six, has also garnered more demand due to the resurgence of men’s grooming in recent years.

Computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinist, a professional who works with heavy machinery to produce parts and tools from metal, plastic and other materials, ranks fourth.

Rounding the last three include: heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) installer at number eight; field service engineer, a person who maintains, repairs and installs electronic products comes in at number nine; and, dietary aide, someone who helps ensure patients in healthcare facilities have a healthy diet, rounds the top 10.

While skilled professionals are often the hardest to find, they’re also the most expensive to lose as, sometimes, companies cannot operate profitably without these people. The longer the role is left open, the bigger the impact it has on the company’s bottom line. That said, it’s imperative to incorporate strategies that will allow you to attract – and retain – these professionals.

How to attract candidates to hard-to-fill roles

  1. Write good job descriptions

Job descriptions are often the most important piece of early communication an employer gives to a job seeker, but many of them are too long, too confusing or too dry to attract the attention of top talent.

The key to writing a job description that will attract top talent is to be concise while also including the three R’s (responsibility, requirements and rewards). Be mindful of length – keeping your description between 700 to 2,000 characters results in up to 30% more applicants1.

Finally, making job descriptions interesting and engaging will encourage potential employees to spend more time reading them and interacting with other company materials.

  1. Build your employer brand

One of the best ways to attract talent is to build your employer brand. We live in a world of transparency, and most people will seek out information online before making a critical decision about where to work. In fact, 92% of workers say that if they were considering a new job, insight into a company’s employer brand would be important.

Third-party review platforms, such as Indeed’s Company Pages, allow you to showcase your culture, provide a channel for storytelling and allow current and former employees to rate and review your business. These tools allow you to build your employer brand without breaking the bank.

  1. Get creative with perks

SMBs can provide perks that many larger companies can’t offer, such as the ability for employees to broaden their responsibilities and have a direct impact on the business.

It may take some creativity, but things like in-office yoga, allowing dogs in the office or providing coffee with comfortable lounge space can go a long way to making your company more attractive to job seekers, which leads us to our fourth and final point…

  1. Provide flexibility when possible

Small businesses may not have the deep pockets of large corporations, but you don’t have to have a huge budget to offer flexibility. Flexibility, a perk that is in high demand among job seekers, is a cost-free benefit that businesses can offer employees. Flexibility can benefit employers as well – it has been correlated with an increase in loyalty among millennials.

Though some jobs on the hardest-to-fill list cannot be done remotely (there’s no such thing as a “remote barber”), this is a great option for companies that can offer it. It can even be something simple – do your employees need to visit the dentist from time to time? Don’t force them to take time off. They want to take an hour to see their kid’s school play? Let them.

While the jobs we compiled are some of the toughest to fill right now, hiring is challenging for many roles and companies of all sizes given the current low unemployment rate. Being strategic about attracting job seekers through good job descriptions and building your employer brand and offering – and communicating – perks will make your company stand out in a competitive environment and help fill the roles that have been open the longest.

Data represents a curated list of roles open for longer than 60 days in Canada from December 2018 to February 2019 for companies with fewer than 150 employees. While job postings can be open for longer than 60 days for many reasons, Indeed uses this measure as a proxy for difficulty hiring.

1Indeed data (worldwide)

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