Having an efficient recruiting process in place is key to acquire top talent in today’s environment. Even some of the most desirable companies to work for lose coveted candidates to competing offers because their recruiting process is slow and cumbersome.
Here are a few suggestions for employers who are actively recruiting for star talent in this competitive market:
Involve the stakeholders. Make sure HR and hiring managers are aligned and responsive. We’re seeing senior executives involved with recruiting top talent throughout the interview, offer and on boarding process. It sends the message that the stakeholders are invested in the candidate’s successwhen key execs areinvolved with recruiting them.
Have a clearly defined compensation budget in place. When your comp package is out of line with your job requirements, the result can be a long and frustrating search. In a fluid market where everyone is vying for top talent it’s important to know how your package impacts your talent acquisition strategy.
Have an efficient process for candidate feedback. From the first resume review to post interview feedback, timely communication is key. We’ve recently seen a company wait three weeks to extend an offer to a top candidate due to internal red tape. By the time they were ready, a competitor had already moved and the candidate accepted their offer.
Be prepared to discuss the long-term career opportunity with the candidate. Technology pros are drawn to opportunities to get their hands on the latest technology,to work in blended teams and to gain exposure within the organization for their contributions. Team leaders need to be able to lay out a career path for the candidate, as well as clearly articulate opportunities that allow them to advance their skill sets.
Recruiting strategies have come a long way from promoting casual Fridays and the ability to bring your dog to work as incentives to join a company. Today, the corporate culture is defined by career advancement and professional development opportunities. With peak hiring season upon us, it’s a good time for companies to streamline their recruiting processes and actively compete to acquire game changing talent.
We are working with more and more clients today that are recruiting talent from outside of their industry in an effort to gain competitive advantage. For example, I recently placed a talented developer from Silicon Valley with experience creating compelling and user-friendly interfaces at a Wall Street firm that is working to bolster their trading systems. This required the hiring manager to put a strategy in place that supported hiring and professionally developing an “out of industry” candidate.
In doing the search it was clear that these candidates were used to a totally different kind of work environment and corporate culture. Their workplace was less structured or more informal.The organizational hierarchyand size disparity associated with our client presentedchallenges and the new hire needed toadaptto the industry and more formal work culture.
Fortunately, our client has been extremely successful in blending teams comprised of talent from varied industries, and they have actually reduced attrition and retained top talent in the process. The hiring manager often says that although the team is important, engagement with the ‘C’ suite can be the critical component.
Here are some suggestions from successful hiring managers for making team building of members with disparate backgrounds look easy.
Building teams from disparate cultures generally means change for an organization. When these challenges are faced head on with a plan and leadership buy-in, the result is a stronger, more nimble organization that is better positioned to attract talent and leverage best of breed technologies from outside their industry.
I recently had dinner with two friends who were involved in a job search and both related similar experiences of being called for “exploratory” interviews. A firm would typically conduct an exploratory interview with a candidate to determine if there might be the opportunity for a future position.
Both of my friends spent the majority of the interview being asked targeted questions about one previous employer. Both left the interview scratching their heads and wondering “what was that all about?”
Exploratory interviews are a common and effective way to identify potential candidates for growth opportunities but lately I’ve heard from candidates who felt the interviewers had motives other than talent acquisition.
I’m not suggesting this is a corporate practice. Rather, a hiring manager sees an opportunity to gain information about a competitor. Here are some ways to handle this awkward interview.
If asked questions about projects gone wrong or sensitive issues relating to your employer defer to your NDA or separation agreement if you have one. Other perfectly acceptable responses are: “I wasn’t involved in that project,” or “I’m sorry that I don’t have more to add but that was before I joined the company”. Casually bring the conversation back to their current challenges and future initiatives. Tell the interviewer what you found compelling about the firm and why you’re interested in pursuing an opportunity with them. Although it’s a tough interview it’s important to give a positive impression and leave the interviewer thinking about potential opportunities for you with the firm.
This is the question I spend more time discussing with job candidates than any other.
In the past, a move to senior management generally meant not being hands on any longer. There was often a clear line between “managers” and “individual contributors.” As tech teams have matured and roles have consolidated those lines have blurred and technical managers are often hands on.
Today many senior technical roles require strong hands-on skills. Most senior roles with small companies require a strong technologist, and more large firms are following suit. As a senior tech manager with a global investment bank said to me recently, “The net result of the technical decisions we make is aconsumer experience that either delights or disappoints. As a leader I need to be able to make those decisions based on my own experience and input from my team.”
Since I spend a lot of time speaking with people who are unhappy in their jobs,I’ll add to that philosophy. People want to work in an engaging culture where they learn and grow professionally. The ability to learn from experienced superiors who have dealt with similar challenges and who have hands-on experience is invaluable.
Finally, retaining your hands-on skills will increase your marketability if you’re out of work. The number of positions for hands-on talentis greater than those without. So, whether you’re in senior management or an individual contributor, make sure to keep current with your industry and technology. Relevance in an evolving industry is key to employability.
I consider myself lucky to know some incredibly successful people from diverse professional backgrounds. Whether they’re "C" level executives or professional athletes, I’ve noticed similar traits among the uber successful. One is passion and engagement in their work in a way that makes it seem effortless. Work is a natural expression of who they are as people.
In a perfect world everyone could reach this professional "Holy Grail". Is it realistic to expect people to be happy when they go to work? Should we expect to be passionate about what we do for a living? I think so.
I can usually tell how excited a candidate is about a job when they leave the interview because they’re anxious for feedback. When asking the candidate what interested him or her most about the job, I usually hear that it’s the people, culture, and chance to work with high caliber colleagues that’s exciting. Compensation is rarely mentioned.
I encourage everyone in the interview process to ask themselves why the job they’re interviewing for is right for them. Think it through carefully and discuss it with your family and trusted advisors. Accepting a full time job with the hope that it turns out well is generally a gamble not worth taking. Ask the questions, make sure you have all the information you need and make a decision based on all the data points. Finally, do it because it gets you out of bed in the morning.
A few years ago I was working with a senior hiring manager to recruit several executive level candidates. During the process, one candidate was given a counter offer from their employer, a global investment bank, and he decided to stay. Although assurances were made that his role would expand and change, it never did and he ultimately left six months later. This is a typical scenario and why accepting a counter offer from your current employer puts you at a distinct career disadvantage. Here’s why:
Refusing a counter offer doesn’t have to be awkward as long as you’re prepared for the conversation. Politely thank your boss and let him/her know that while you appreciate their offer you’re excited about the new opportunity and have decided that moving on is the right decision. Tell them how much you’ve learned and developed professionally working for the firm and with the team.
Industries tend to be tightly networked and you never know when your paths may cross again.
Several years ago, a recruiter mentioned to me in an offhand way that he couldn’t think of too many more life-altering decisions that a person could make than where they chose to work. He went on to say that the decision to join a company creates a partnership between the employee and employer that requires commitment and a shared optimism for the future. I’ve never forgotten that conversation or underestimated the importance of candidates making the right decision when evaluating employment opportunities. Although the actual offer of employment lies with the company, it’s up to the candidate to make the right choice for the right reasons. Evaluating specifics of the employment package including salary, benefits, work/life balance and specific roles and responsibilities are typically the focus. Candidates often choose positions based on compensation, but when they decide to leave a company, it’s frequently due to weak corporate culture and internal politics.
We recommend candidates prepare one or two well thought-out interview questions about corporate culture, training and development initiatives, and employee success stories. These are appropriate for the HR interview and will help to give a broader and critical perspective to the candidate making an important decision.
Here are a few suggestions. I hope they help you to choose the opportunity that fits you best.