Archive for October, 2013

Candidates and Houses

October 24, 2013

For the past year, it seems that homes in the Northeast region are not staying on the market for long.  In fact, the incidence of competing offers, most all coming in above the asking price, has skyrocketed of late.  Even homes with less curb appeal that sport tired, outdated kitchens are flying off the market.  Homebuyers are forced to shorten their decision-making process considerably just to have a chance.  Sure, the economic climate is still questionable.  But tell that to the housing market.

Eerily similar is the hiring environment.  Over the past two years, the greater Boston metro area technology realm has trended towards a full-blown candidate driven market, resulting in continued lower unemployment rates, increased incidences of competing offers and counteroffers, and offers that contain additional points of leverage (e.g., increased stock options, RSUs, signing bonuses, guaranteed commissions during ramp-up period, unlimited PTO policy, etc.).  Even candidates with less curb appeal, meaning poorly crafted resumes along with problematic job moves, uninspiring accomplishments and less relevant skill sets, are getting interviews.

Unlike homebuyers, who have either learned the hard way or have been suitably admonished to recalibrate their approach, many hiring companies are missing opportunities to acquire strong candidates because they haven’t adjusted their interviewing cycles and offer components to reflect the current talent market dynamics.  Somehow, they still have it in their mind that it’s 2009, their company is the most exciting and attractive one to join, and that candidates should feel privileged just to gain an interview.

Growing companies looking to scale their business must meet their hiring objectives, especially as it pertains to hiring timelines.  To do so, they simply have to get their hiring acts together.  Here is a list of the top 10 best practices I’m seeing the more successful companies doing on a consistent basis to attract and successfully hire strong candidates.

1.  Conduct proactive recruitment to better engage with passive candidates.

2.  Build in flexibility to hiring budgets so that the priority can be to get the right people on the bus vs. managing to a stringent line item.

3.  Understand that the entire interview process must involve selling the opportunity just as much as scrutinizing the candidates.

4.  Streamline the interview cycle and delays between interview rounds by marshaling internal resources to enable substantially greater prioritization of hiring.

5.  Rely upon recruitment thought leaders instead of cutting corners by trying to go at it alone.

6.  Engage with search professionals who have their finger on the market’s pulse, have served as hiring managers in the past, and can provide a higher level of counsel to your interview process and offer components.

7.  Be prepared to shift on the fly if an in-demand candidate is being courted by multiple suitors or if opportunistically, a compelling candidate for a position that doesn’t yet have an open req. jumps into your purview.

8.  Truly listen to how each finalist candidate prioritizes the prospective offer components and have a flexible offer model to accommodate those preferences as best as possible.

9.  Base hiring decision on intangibles (passion, drive, creativity, inquisitiveness, self-awareness, etc.) just as much, if not more than tangibles (education pedigree, company pedigree, domain experience, etc.).

10. Offer a discernible onboarding/ramp-up plan as well as attainable career advancement paths.

Just as with homebuying, no hiring optimization plan is foolproof.  Most assuredly, there will be the ones that get away.  The point is to stack the deck in your favor and to wholeheartedly compete beyond the perfunctory “We offer competitive salaries and a comprehensive benefits plan.”  Now go out and get that dream home…er…top candidate.


Action items:

1.  How far off are you from attaining your ongoing hiring objectives?  Be honest, because nearly all companies fall off the mark.

2.  How many of the 10 best practices listed above have your company fully embraced?  Get the senior leadership team together to form an action plan that addresses the best practices not yet enacted.

3.  Wake up!  It’s not 2009 anymore!