Driving to Detroit early one recent Sunday morning I stopped at the McDonalds just off of I-75 in Monroe, Michigan. Monroe is about 25 miles south of Detroit. Attracted by a headline in the local newspaper I read that that county’s unemployment rate had fallen to 4.5 percent.

What? Unemployment 4.5 percent? Monroe County, which lies between Detroit and Toledo, Ohio?

Few regions within the United States took a bigger hit during the Great Recession than southeast Michigan, home to the U.S. auto industry. Now, a mere five years later, we’re being told that the region, at least this particular county, is essentially at full employment? Figure that. Some regions of the Michigan aren’t doing as well, but many parts of the U.S. are doing even better than Monroe. North Dakota’s rate stands at a mere 2.7 percent, for example.

OK, what do these numbers mean to small business owners? Probably what most of you already know; finding good employees is going to be tough this winter and spring. Very tough. Not that the federal government is helping, having made the H2B seasonal guest worker such a mess. 

So what to do? In so many words: Recruit like crazy. Always be recruiting. Here are three strategies to implement now. 

1. Become active with your local schools, especially vocational schools. Get to know the guidance counselors and instructors at your local schools. If you’re offered a chance to speak or meet with students, do it. Be a presence at career days.

2. Ask your best employees if they know of any relatives, friends or acquaintances that might want to work for you or get into the industry. It is not likely they will recommend somebody that could jeopardize their relationship with you.

3. How about those good employees that you let leave your company for one reason or another? Mel Kleiman is one of the most knowledgeable people that I’ve ever met when it comes to hiring and keeping great employees. Writes Kleiman in a recent blog: "Call the best ones first and ask if they would consider coming back. Whether they say ‘yes,’ ‘no,’ or ‘maybe,’ be sure to also ask if they know of anyone else who may be interested (because birds of a feather flock together)."

Former employees can get up and running right away, writes Kleiman, president of Humetrics, Sugar Land, Texas. In almost all cases these former employees have also picked up new knowledge and experience. Another big plus in getting the back is that their return tells your existing great people "that the grass isn’t necessarily greener elsewhere."

Kleiman is an entertaining speaker and his blog focusing on how small businesses can hire great employees is one of the best on the Internet. Check it out at humetrics.com.