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Recalibrating the unicorn

​Salaries are out of control. We have all heard the conversation and most organisations are feeling the pain during hiring processes.

However, despite an exponential change in the demand for talent and the associated salaries since mid 2021, nothing much seems to have changed in organisations recruitment process during the last 12 months as a response.

Here are my two top pieces of advice for change to help navigate around this issue.

Salaries have changed but recruitment strategies haven’t.

In today’s predominantly-reactive senior finance recruitment market (where everyone is looking for the same levels of candidates) all too often I hear the same old Employment Value Proposition from hiring managers and/or HR leads. Something along the lines of “we’re the best in the market, why wouldn’t candidate #1 want to work here?”.

This is an attitude that seems to be stuck in time but that has never been so ineffective. Of course, our natural confirmation bias informs us that ‘we work here so it must be a great choice’ and we forget to take the time to understand the individual or unique needs of the candidates we are trying to attract to the organisation.

This way of thinking seems only to prolong interview processes and increase the chance of failure as too many companies ignore the fact that they are being interviewed by the candidate just as much, if not more, than they are interviewing them.

This “brand first” way of recruiting is no longer effective for all but a small handful of highly purpose-led organisations. Instead, it is those organisations who have a much more clearly defined way of communicating and demonstrating several of the following items (and more) who are being the most successful in hiring people right now.

For example

  • What does the role look like today? What is working well, what doesn’t work?

  • What are the resources and support available to overcome the obstacles?

  • What might the future look like for this division, role and - critically -for this person?

  • What are the working conditions? (The key here is meeting the candidate where they are at. What does a good working environment look like for them, and do you honestly have it? If so, this is critical information.

In my role I’m invariably asked to ‘see who else I have’ when preferred candidates go elsewhere, which seems to ignore the longlist/shortlist process that has already happened and rely simply on repeating the same process and expecting a different outcome… And that is the definition of insanity!

Much like styling a home or apartment for sale to ensure it is as attractive as possible to the potential buyer based on their likely lifestyle and vision, I am coaching my clients on ensuring they can authentically demonstrate a desirable role and workplace to prospective employees.

It’s never been more important.

If they’re green they grow but if they’re ripe, they rot!

Last year a good candidate from the big 4 might be looking for $110k to move and is looking for $140k in 2022. Companies just can’t sustain that shift.

Yet most organisations continue to follow the skill replacement methodology of recruitment. “Simone has left, we need another Simone."

This often has the effect of being in a permanent recruitment cycle and increasing the demand on your current team to cover the void whilst the indefinite process of replacing the role continues.

This is where the second opportunity exists.

It’s a simple job for a recruiter to match someone who looks right with the right opportunity. Equally, we would all be out of a job if we couldn’t exclude people who looked wrong and were wrong. But the real value in recruiting is to spot potential and harness that in a way where both parties grow and benefit together.

True, this is the long road. But taking someone who might only be a 70-80% fit for the job brief and investing time and money in developing them fosters loyalty and mutual benefit over the long term and, for many, is the only viable alternative to paying inflated market rates.

This requires organisations to further development and training across up-to-date recruiting practices that may differ from traditional HR methodologies.

Preference should be given to identifying:

  • Competence

  • Potential

  • Learning agility

  • Long term vision alignment and;

  • The compatibility of work life/lifestyle

If you need the best person in the market who can do the job standing on their head, starting today then you’re going to have to pay. But then how long will they stay?

You’re only a bigger offer from a competitor away from a new hiring process.

It’s time to break the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” model and think about ways to engage and grow the team of the future.

​I am currently working on a number of roles within the finance space. If you are interested to find out more, contact me today for a confidential chat.

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