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Despite the latest jobs report that shows employers added fewer jobs in May than expected, a majority of small businesses (57 percent) say they plan to hire this year, according to a survey from Manta, an online community for promoting and connecting small business. Manta’s SMB Nation Survey queried 1,016 small business owners–the majority of whom have less than 10 employees (892)–about the unique challenges they face regarding hiring and managing employees.

While small businesses are hiring, the survey found they’re struggling to recruit top candidates. Small business owners report the greatest hurdle is compensation (27 percent, larger companies can offer higher salaries), followed closely by a limited talent pool (26 percent, top candidates don’t want to work for a small company), and limited advancement opportunities (15 percent, candidates perceive little chance to move up).

Fifteen percent of small business owners said the improving economy works against them when hiring because candidates anticipate more job openings and better opportunities with larger companies. Despite the proliferation of online job boards, the majority of business owners (59 percent) will depend on time-honored strategies such as networking via colleagues, friends and family to find candidates. Forty-one percent reported they would seek direct referrals from current employees.

“The best news revealed in our survey is that small business owners are hiring,” said Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Manta. “Managing a staff has always been challenging for SMBs, but it’s much more difficult in today’s Â’do more with less’ economy. Manta provides a resource to get companies found online, and also makes essential connections with potential customers, partners and even employees, helping make the task of finding job candidates less daunting.”

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Majority of Small Businesses Plan to Hire in 2011: Survey