Don’t Lose the Talent War – Fix Your Hiring Process

miss the mark22018 saw one of the most hectic labor markets in decades. The economy is at full employment, and labor demand is sky high. The war for talent is in full swing. Some companies are losing this war however; and here are the two main areas where they go wrong:

Broken Hiring Process  – the #1 reason we see clients lose candidates to other employers is a slow or convoluted interview process. Job seekers in this market have multiple options. The company who makes the best hire is very often the company who moves the candidate through the interview process the most quickly and efficiently. This doesn’t mean you have to rush hires, but go into each hiring process with a plan. I suggest that clients:

  1. Identify who will conduct interviews in advance. Don’t have candidates interview with people for no reason. Pick the key decision makers, or the primary people that this position will interact with, and limit the interview panel to those people. Also, have an idea of who should meet with them, in what order, in how many rounds. If you cause delays or add unnecessary steps, you’ll lose candidates.
  2. Give up on the idea of interviewing or comparing multiple candidates multiple candidates against each other. When interviewing candidates for a high demand position, be prepared to offer the job to the first qualified candidate you meet. In a perfect world, you could meet multiple candidates, compare them side by side, and pick the best one. That is NOT a reality in this job market. Know what you are looking for in advance. Decide on “must have” and “nice to have” qualities. When you meet someone you like, hire them! Waiting to see other candidates is not going to guarantee a better hire. It will however guarantee that you’ll lose good candidates.

Make Good Offers – I’ve had several clients lose candidates in 2018 by starting with low-ball offers. Recent changes in Massachusetts and New York have disallowed employers and recruiters from asking applicants their current compensation. This has made offer negotiations a bit of a guessing game at times. Some succumb to the urge to start by offering a low compensation package, with the idea that they can negotiate up if necessary. This is a mistake. For one thing, candidates are generally insulted or put off by low offers. Second, more astute companies who understand candidate supply and demand are making strong offers to start, in order to show candidates that they really want them. I advise that clients lead with a strong offer. It’s always smart to have some wiggle room if needed, but starting too low can leave a company in a hole that is too big to dig out from. A few ways to make sure your offer is competitive:

  1. If working with a headhunter, talk to them about the offer. The recruiter will hopefully know the candidate, and has already talked about their compensation expectations. Recruiters will also know what the market value is for candidates. Get the recruiter’s advice on what the candidate is worth and what they are looking for.
  2. Compare the prospect against the person they are replacing, or peer level rolls internally. If you are hiring someone to replace Employee Y, use their current salary to benchmark an offer. Is the candidate as good or better than the incumbent? Make the offer reflect how they stack up against known comparisons.

Hiring is a huge challenge for companies right now. Streamlining the process and making competitive offers can go a long way to ensure you staff up with the best possible talent in 2019!

By |December 17th, 2018|Job Offers, job search, recruiting strategy|0 Comments

What I Learned at Saastr Annual 2018

SaaStr-Annual-2017-Logo-flat-2000pLast week I attended my first Saastr conference in beautiful San Francisco. It was my New Year’s resolution to attend a few industry related trade shows. Overall, the conference was a good experience. As a headhunter, and not a SaaS business owner/founder, many of the actual sessions weren’t very relevant for me. But, that was OK, I was going for the networking… and boy oh boy, there was A LOT of networking!

Getting the opportunity to meet a lot of company founders and executives, along with a lot of venture capitalists who fund them, I walked away with a few takeaways from a recruiter perspective:

  1. Recruiting is an urgent need, but not exactly a priority — almost every single executive I met talked about how big of a challenge recruiting is for their company. It was often described as a bottleneck that slowed or inhibited growth. When I asked executives, “what is your recruiting strategy?”, I got a lot of blank stares, or answers that clearly indicated they didn’t have one. In a highly competitive market, where many companies are fighting for talent, it’s critical that planning and resources are allocated for recruiting.
  2. Companies think they can go it alone — a classic push back we hear from potential clients is that they are “handling the search internally”. If that means you are posting on job boards and sending a bunch of LinkedIn inmails, you are setting yourself up for failure. I’m clearly biased as a headhunter, but using agencies, or hiring top internal recruiting talent is not a waste of money. When you consider the time it takes to run ads, sift through resumes, interview lack-luster candidates, loss of productivity because of an empty seat, drain in morale because everybody is picking up extra duty, etc., the cost of trying to hire on your own can quickly exceed that of a good recruiter. Some jobs can be filled in house. However, high demand, low supply talent requires a different approach.
  3. Some companies wait too long — a classic problem of hyper growth startups is that they are very focused on building the product and growing revenues, but they often neglect the back office support roles that help them scale. We see this all the time in the accounting and finance function. Revenues grow quickly, the accounting becomes complex, and lack of skilled staff, internal controls, proper accounting standards, etc. cause mistakes to pile up. The cost of fixing problems that have been compounding over time is always greater than hiring the right people early on, and making sure that proper systems and procedures are in place. The more successful you think you’ll be, the more reason to plan ahead and hire proactively.
By |February 13th, 2018|professional development, recruiting strategy|0 Comments

Why You Should Use Retained Search

Retained SearchThe market is hot! Demand for management to executive level leadership continues to rise. Winning the war for talent is getting harder and harder. One of the best tools companies have at their disposal to fill key positions is engaging a retained search firm. A retained search firm is one that engages exclusively with a client company to fill one or more searches, where the company pays portions of the recruiting fee up front. Retained search is more expensive than contingency search, but offers many advantages over it. Some reasons to hire a retained search firm include:

  1. You are making a critical hire – retained search is often the best solution if you are making a key hire. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the hire is an “executive” level. If you are looking for a key person, hiring a retained search firm will give you the best access to the highest quality candidate pool.
  2. You’ve looked using other resources – we are approached all the time by companies that have been looking for a new hire through job postings, internal recruiters, external contingency firms, employee referrals, etc., and come up with nothing. If a search is dragging on unsuccessfully, a retained search firm may be the “fresh coat of paint” the search needs. When a prospect is contacted by a retained search firm, it sends the message that the company is serious about hiring. A retained firm will identify a specific pool of candidates, and go out into the market with a compelling and consistent message.
  3. You need a great person quickly – retained search firms often have subject matter experts with years of experience in a specific discipline. They’ll know your market, competitors, and job function requirements inside and out. When you want to hire the best possible person in the shortest amount of time, retained search is the best place to start.
  4. Cost benefit analysis – with most retained search firms charging 30% or more of first year total compensation (base plus bonus), it may sound like an expensive way to go. However, we routinely see clients that let critical openings go unfilled for months on end. When you add up the cost of contractors, loss of productivity and time, etc., a retained search firm can actually save you money! Getting a top notch candidate quickly avoids problems piling up, and can also begin to add to the company bottom line!
  5. You need confidentiality – if you are replacing a current employee, retained search is the way to go. A retained search firm can discretely target a small, highly qualified candidate pool for a confidential replacement. They can help “tell the story” from a 3rd party perspective about why the person is being replaced, and allay fears or concerns for potential candidates.
By |January 25th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments