Talent Acquisition: Put Out The Welcome Sign!
A week ago Thursday, my colleague David introduced me to the principals of a small design-build company. These folks have a bit of a conundrum. Last year they hired an individual to fill a key position, however that person is not performing to their standards. He requires too much supervision and follow-up. The principals are having to cover much of his workload. They've decided to replace him and wanted to talk to me about conducting a confidential search. These folks have never hired an executive recruiter so they are curious as to my background and method of operation. They also want to know the cost of my services.
During our meeting, they spent a lot of time talking about their expectations for successful job performance and the shortfalls of the incumbent. They talked about the process they used to recruit him, including compensation and qualifications. It was clear to me that there was a major disconnect between the strategic importance of the position, the experience and skill set required, and their compensation package. Frankly, this is not uncommon for a small company.
Note: Successful companies are always recruiting talent, even if it's nothing more than networking and cataloging potential hires.
The following Monday morning, David called to advise me that the prospective client had been presented with the employee's resignation. Now they are really in a pickle. This is a key position that needs to be filled immediately. Productivity will suffer along with customer satisfaction. Their P&L is sure to be affected. They are serious about a search engagement and wanted to schedule a phone call with me to finalize an agreement.
The fact that the incumbent offered his resignation came as no surprise to me. When the relationship between employer and employee becomes strained it is mutual. Surprisingly, many employers fail to grasp this fact. I am equally confident that if I was to do an exit interview with this employee, he would say the job wasn't what he expected either.
When we had our conversation later that day, I got a clearer picture as to their thinking and how they wanted to proceed. I learned that they want to pursue a parallel path evaluating the acquisition of a W-2, regular employee, or a 1099 contractor. They also gave me a sense as to their cash flow situation and budget parameters for the search. I told them that I would outline a proposal for their review before noon the next day.
The smaller the company, the more critical turnover becomes. They typically have little excess staff. They are totally focused on work at hand and business development to the exclusion of an active recruiting program. This is understandable, if not something of an extreme case. An active recruiting program is an effective insurance program.
Larger, more stable companies have the same issues as my perspective client. Working on an engagement last year, I quickly learned that the client underutilized the talent acquisition value of their web-site. They did not feature a “careers” tab prominently on their main menu. In fact, it was inconspicuously buried as a sub menu item. This company has had difficulty with ongoing recruiting, yet failed to put out a welcome sign for prospective team members. This was easy to correct. The follow-on step was to add a plug-in that collected resumes and job applications from interested candidates.
Minimizing the risk of turnover should be a priority for all organizations. Putting out a welcome sign to attract prospective employees is the starting point. A prominent page on the company website and on social media is ideal.
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Jim Weber, President
New Century Dynamics Executive Search
Author of: Fighting Alligators: Job Search Strategy For The New Normal
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