The Impossibility of Hiring Good Staff

Hiring Good Staff Is anyone nowadays keen to work for someone else? In the online world, I’m not so sure.

Scoreboard Media started me on this train of thought about six months ago by asking:

“If you can rank a site in lucrative markets, why would you do it for clients instead of for yourself?

Last year, we pointed out that very few Joomla companies employ more than five people, and don’t see anything changes this year, next or in fact any time soon. The simple fact is, there is a new business model emerging:

Companies have a core of 1 to 4 people, often equal in status. They specialize in a particular niche and then they rely on partnerships with other similar, small companies to cover their other bases. Actual hiring seems to be a thing of the past.

Some Thoughts On Why This is Happening

  • The stigma is gone. No-one really bats an eyelid anymore at small companies spread thinly. Maybe the turning point was 37 Signals having huge success with a dozen people in eight time zones.
  • The online economy is going great. If you can design, if you can code or do SEO work, then the opportunity is there for anyone with a modicum of business sense to be their own boss. If the online economy takes a turn for the worse, people may start hunting salaried jobs again.
  • Why do you need to be in the same office? Get an great looking website, online Project Management, an online fax number, a virtual PBX and you suddenly not being in the same office as your colleagues.
  • The skills you need are so diverse. A company may need 3 designers and no coders one week and three coders, no designers the next. Hiring full time is highly capital intensive, especially in the U.S.
  • Multiple revenue streams. There are lots of ways that companies can gain extra revenue that simply weren’t available in the past. How much money did webdesign companies make from advertising ten years ago? Now its easy to whip up a network of Adsense sites and make enough to pad a company’s income and ride out bad months.
  • Freelancers are untrustworthy. Not personally, but in general. Why not strike up a partnership with another company that you know and trust? Plus, partnerships may have lost their stigma, but I’m not sure outsourcing has.

Who Can or Needs to Still Hire?

Small companies with a compelling brand will still be able to attract good talent. Good examples are SEOMoz and 37Signals. If you have an exciting, resume-building company name, plus venture capital funding and are located in a big city …. the world is still your hiring oyster.

Over to You…

I’m really interested in comments on this one. Am I blinkered working in the SEO industry where people can generate their own work rather than relying on clients? Are there still web design companies taking on staff in any quantity?

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