Columbus Chamber Report: How to hire the right people

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO
Columbus Chamber president and CEO Michael Dalby

With 2,000 business connections and engagements each year, Columbus Chamber team members have possibly the most accurate and up-to-date view of Columbus Region businesses. They're meeting with local business leaders every day, learning firsthand the challenges and opportunities they are facing.

What is the Chamber team hearing?

Attracting and retaining talent is at the top of the list of concerns, with business leaders citing trouble finding the right people to take their enterprises to the next level.

Results of a recent Small Business Workforce Survey, which the Chamber conducted for Columbus City Council, revealed similar concerns. The survey was completed by more than 200 companies with one to 50 employees, and it studied issues such as workforce quality, recruitment, retention, and training. Key findings included:

    • Administrative support and sales are the top positions respondents are hiring.
    • Only 30 percent of respondents have worked with a for-profit or non-profit organization/agency to help with hiring needs.
    • Workforce training and education are viewed as important across industries, but comment varies on which part of the training/education system should be prioritized for improvement.
    • Regarding employee traits and qualifications, position-specific skills and time-management skills are the most difficult to find, followed by creativity and project-management skills. Various communications skills also rate high on the difficult-to-find scale.
    • Soft skills, work ethic and similar issues tend to be a greater challenge in construction, retail, restaurants, cleaning services, warehousing and other lower-skill industries and occupations.

(Full survey results can be downloaded at the Columbus Chamber's website,

Further, results from a Columbus 2020 workforce study in 2013 suggest the region has a pocket of 326,628 readily available workers (66 percent under-employed; 20 percent unemployed, seeking work; and 13 percent not participating, would consider re-entry).

Change Your Talent Strategy

Located near 63 colleges and universities attended by 140,000 students, there is no shortage of talent in and around Columbus.

The key is understanding how to mobilize talent, not how to find talent.

For employers willing to put in a little extra effort by engaging with the talent community, including educators and workforce partners, these opportunities become abundant.

Chances are good talent is just under your nose.

With a fulltime, dedicated team member focused on connecting businesses to talent, the Columbus Chamber serves as a hub for this region's talent connections-a pinion for business, education and workforce partners. Chamber Director of Talent Connections Dessa Augsburger shares a few other tips:

    • Be strategic. Arm yourself with intelligence on the candidate market. Understand competitive wage rates, talent availability, employers currently hiring, education enrollment, top job titles and skills in demand, posting sites and average posting duration.
    • Shift focus from process to people. People relate to stories and experiences. Lead with your story, find believers and enlist friends.
    • Offer development opportunities. Development is a 21st century and post-recession business recruitment strategy. Job seekers are mobilized and sold by potential for growth.
    • Be transparent and willing to bend a little. If your job description leaves a lot to be desired, so will your applicants. Focus energy on job descriptions and describe an opportunity that will attract your ideal fit. Evoke your culture and detail the environment in which this person can thrive.
    • Don't be shallow. Dare to look beyond titles on the resume, as past performance doesn't always predict future success, and see a broader pool of candidates.

Columbus Chamber staff works together to provide the right mix of connections and insight to help build a talent strategy that will advance business goals. From emerging talent to seasoned talent, or somewhere in between, the Chamber is working on the connections to make it easier for businesses to source and recruit talent here in the Columbus Region.

For more information on talent connections, visit or connect with Dessa Augsburger at or 614.225.6061.

Michael Dalby is president and CEO of the Columbus Chamber. He can be reached at 614-225-6917 or