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How to get an edge in the hunt for talent

In April 2021, overall unemployment in the USA was 6.1%, and 2.1% for college graduates.(1)

Job openings were 8.12 million, the highest ever.(1)

For new candidates coming to Valenco in Q1 2021, there were 1.29 jobs listings per seeker which matched the high of the last 5 years, previously set in Q1 2019.

All of these point to more opportunities for those looking to find or change jobs

Corroborating this, 87% respondents to Valenco’s survey(2) in May 2021 mentioned that they were confident or very confident of finding a job

As the hunt for talent becomes more competitive, l0 actions can put you ahead of the game.

1. Know your candidate profile

2. Sharpen your message

3. Get all the help you can

4. Move fast

5. Conduct interviews professionally

6. Keep candidates engaged

7. Don’t wait for the perfect fit

8. Revisit the ones you had parked

9. Be adaptable on terms

10. Build alternate supply sources

i. Be focused - Know your candidate profile

What are the skills required for someone to be productive in the role which you are looking to fill? Are there any specific personal attributes / characteristics?

Look around at those already in similar roles and doing well.

Be specific. It will help focus search efforts and get conversations with those who are relevant.

Be realistic. Separate out the must have skills & attributes from the nice to have. It will improve the odds of finding a productive hire.

ii. Sharpen your message

Why should someone take this job, work for your group or company?

Are you doing cutting edge work? A leader in domain or technology? The large happening company which everyone wants to be part of? A part of a buzzing startup ecosystem? A people friendly employer?

While always good to be able to communicate these, it is even more important in a tight market when an extra effort is needed to attract potential employees.

This information also allows job seekers to assess early if you are the employer aligned with their professional goals, whittles out those for whom you are not, and increases the odds of attracting more committed candidates.

iii. Get all the help you can

When supply is becoming a constraint get all the help you can get.

Strengthen relationships with hiring partners & channels.

Be mindful that they too have choices of who to work for and where to send their candidates, even more so when demand is running ahead of supply. You want to be at the top of that list.

iv. Move fast

It is very likely that your interviewee is interviewing elsewhere too, so speed up the interview and assessment process.

Delays on your end allow candidates to get into other discussions and give your competitors time to complete their hiring process.

Protracted delays may also nudge your candidate to take an offer which she/he has in hand even if you may otherwise have been the preferred choice

This is not the time for long pauses.

Between 2013 & 2019, from the date a candidate was submitted, Valenco’s clients took an average of 4.3 days to share feedback on next steps, 7.8 days for the first interview to occur, and 42 days to get an offer. 3 The smaller companies tended to be a little faster.

Are your hiring cycle timelines competitive with these?

v. Conduct interviews professionally.

As job opportunities are increasing, candidates are becoming more sensitive to the way interviews are conducted. We are hearing many more instances of – “the interviewer was not on time / cold / disinterested / not engaging. I don’t think I want to work with this individual / company”

Communicate dates and keep them.

Ensure that hiring managers are ready and briefed prior to the interview calls.

Build engagement with the interviewee during the discussions. Make an effort to make it a two way discussion rather than a one way Q&A on the candidate’s professional history.

This is not the time to be strong and silent. Warm and fuzzy may be yield better outcomes.

vi. Keep candidates engaged through the hiring lifecycle.

The top issue which irks candidates is the lack of information on the hiring process, cycle times, and post interview feedback.

Outline the hiring process and likely cycle times at the beginning of the discussions with a candidate. Let them know the steps and how long each is likely to take.

Once into the hiring cycle, ensure continuous feedback and contact. Some companies have dedicated candidate engagement teams to ensure a high touch experience through the hiring cycle.

Keep the lines of communication active with candidates, and more so with those who you see as possible hires

vii. Don’t wait for the perfect fit

If you find the perfect fit candidate(s), move fast and reel them in

If not, worth looking at those who may not be quite there but can get there with some grooming and mentoring.

If it may take 3 months to get the perfect fit candidate vs. 2 months to groom the one available today, which is the better choice?

And remember, in a tight supply market, that 3 months may become 4, even 5, or even never.

viii. Revisit the ones who you had parked

Don’t be shy to go back and relook at some of the candidates who you may have found reasonable but not the perfect fit and hence not considered earlier.

Now that you have worked your way through the candidate slate, is there someone who had been put on the backburner who looks perhaps the better of the lot, can be groomed, and made productive in a reasonable timeframe?

If yes, go back and reinitiate the thread.

Be prepared to move very fast though. With time having elapsed, that individual may have landed something else or in the process of doing so.

ix. Be adaptable on terms

Most organizations will have pay and benefit guidelines

Within these guidelines, be willing to explore options to customize for any special needs or to become more financially competitive.

An adjustment between base pay and bonus. An upfront advance or bonus. An assured variable compensation for a few quarters. A moving / relocation allowance.

Very often it is doable. All it takes is the willingness to try.

Even if you can’t meet all that is asked for, just the fact that you tried demonstrates empathy, builds a bond, and can go a long way to attract candidates to accept your role.

x. Build new supply sources

If the candidate supply is continuing to be tight, are there alternative avenues to source candidates from?

Less experienced candidates

Hiring from peer industries

When looking at alternative pools, be mindful that they are likely to require grooming in order to be fully productive. Factor in the costs and lead times. These will not hit the ground running so learn to be patient

Be mindful also that many may not find your company or industry the right one and opt out. Plan for attrition rates higher than what you would for those coming from within your industry

Sourcing from alternative and new supply sources will have a time lag in delivering results so plan for that.

What is plan B?

If you are not able to recruit in the timeline which has been set, what is the alternative?

Will you redeploy or promote someone internally?

Change the structure of the group and reassign responsibilities?

Re-asses the goals?

In closing

When candidate supply is becoming tight, it’s time to up the game to attract talent.

Knowing what skills are required, getting hiring partners working for you, speeding up the hiring cycle, making it personalized, and ensuring continuous engagement with candidates can help.

If this lands you the perfect fit hire, more power to you.

If it does not, relook at your options. Can you hire the less than perfect candidate and groom, rotate someone internally, or maybe re-look at the structure of the team to reassign responsibilities?

Happy hunting!



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