Confidence. That’s the vibe from the small business community in early 2011. Small businesses are hiring—and raising prices. What does this mean for your small business? Time to think about recruiting.

The just-released National Federation of Independent Businesses Small Business Optimism Index shows a gain of 0.4 points in February. Although weak sales are still among the top small business concerns, hiring and future plans to hire are solid.

With small businesses poised to hire once again, it’s time to find ways to attract the best and brightest employees. So without further ado, here are three tips for hiring:

(1) Know what you need: Create a job description outlining exactly what you need from a new employee. If you don’t know what you are looking for, how will you know when you find it? You need to hire an employee that can help your business grow. Be specific about the skills and experience needed to manage the tasks at hand.

(2) Consider virtual assistants: If you aren’t sure you need a full-time employee—or if you have a diverse set of tasks you need to accomplish that are likely beyond a single person’s skill set—consider a virtual assistant arrangement. You could use several virtual assistants that specialize in areas like customer service, word processing, etc., and still not take on the overhead of a full-time employee.

(3) Never stop recruiting: Always keep your eyes open for a possible gem of a new hire. Even if you aren’t hiring now, that could change with a surge of new business. Keeping a file of potential rock stars on hand could benefit you down the road.

Check out this video that offers more tips on small business hiring advice: