You Can’t Always Get What You Want
This past year, I experienced three rather unique, but similar search assignments. I found them to be interesting if not a little odd. The employers were established and profitable, but not necessarily on anyone’s radar screen as a highly desirable employer.
The searches in question were for a Controller, a Director of Business Development, and for a Payroll Benefits Manager, otherwise known as a Human Capital Manager. In each case, the client advised me that these would be difficult searches. They believed this to be true as they called me after they had failed to recruit these positions with internal resources. One client told me that he doubted that his ideal candidate even existed. As I came to learn, the difficulty of these assignments was due to the experience and attributes required by these. In other words, the candidate requirements were more rigid than I thought necessary. These employers were looking for people to be immediately productive. I get it! This expectation has become commonplace even if less realistic in a low unemployment environment. Unfortunately, the compensation packages offered were average for the market, but not so attractive to entice one to leave their current employer.
As a practice, I begin my assignments by helping my client develop a Position Spec. This document combines the Job Description, desired candidate profile, skill-set required, and public relations. This document helps me sell the opportunity to prospective candidates. It is a useful tool to gain close alignment with the client and better understand their needs. The process of developing the Position Spec serves to validate the importance of each profile attribute and to assign a metric to its priority. It prepares the client's expectation as to the caliber of candidate available for consideration. With this process completed, I can qualify more candidates for my client's consideration. Seldom do I find a candidate that is a perfect match to the search criteria. Intangible factors around personality and chemistry usually hold sway.
As measured by the Department of Labor's U-3 metric the employment situation has improved, and most professionals, by now, have found work. In fact, the current unemployment rate for Professionals is about half the total unemployment rate. The current labor market for Professionals is composed of people who lost their jobs due to mergers and acquisitions, or reorganization; and employed folks looking to improve their situation. Most job seekers will find employment after an average amount of time. Baby-Boomers are still struggling, however. The market has shifted so that employers don't have the leverage they had a few years ago. One would expect that, given a tightened labor market, employers would become somewhat more flexible in their hiring standards. In the current job market, management should expect to make hiring decisions that will get them to within 80% or 90% of their requirements. This should be acceptable, so long as the candidate can close the gap through training and experience.
In the end, I was successful in two out of three of these assignments. One search was not that difficult as I found plenty a viable candidates, completing the search within my norm. The second search took twice the normal duration to complete. In the third case, the client who did not think his ideal candidate existed, changed his mind and promoted from within. They were not impossible searches, just a little out of the norm.
“You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes well you just might find,
You get what you need.” Rolling Stones
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1. COO – Atlanta-based Casual Dining Company – New
2. Director of Business Dev, Atlanta-based B2B Professional Services Company: Complete
3. Payroll-Benefits Manager, Atlanta-based Retail Company: Offer extended.
4. Senior Accounting Manager – Atlanta-based Manufacturer. In Process
5. Controller – Atlanta-based Restaurant Company: New
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