Posts in Employer Tips
How to Hire Smart in a Tight Candidate Market
How to Hire Smart in a Tight Candidate Market_Connector Team Recruiting.png

In the executive, managerial and professional labor market, unemployment has been hovering around 2 percent, leaving companies across many industries struggling to find top talent. In a survey conducted by The Wall Street Journal and executive advisory group Visage International, University of Michigan economist Richard Curtin discovered that “the biggest challenge confronting firms is their need to expand hiring in an already-tight labor market.” As a result of increased competition for high performers, employers are now more willing to make concessions to move their organizations forward.

When looking at the Furniture industry niche’ we don’t have data specific to our industry to tell us whether we match the national data.  However, I can tell you there is no shortage of calls into our firm and requests for assistance especially within the sales organizations across all Furniture verticals.

Here’s some advice that may help your organization with its hiring efforts:

1. Keep an open mind

When hiring managers look for potential employees, they often only focus immediately on the ideal candidate who has all the desirable qualities for the role. It’s important to recognize that an applicant may not need to possess every single one of those qualities to become a great hire, and rigidly sticking to your list may mean that you lose out on a candidate who could be successful in your organization.

Someone can have exceptional educational and work backgrounds, and still fail at your organization if they aren’t a good cultural fit, or if they don’t share your core values. Think about the type of person who will fit in among your employees – the mentality they’d need to thrive and the interpersonal skills that will help them become part of the team.

After you draft a job description, revisit each requirement to determine if it is absolutely needed. You may find room for negotiation on professional designations or technical skill sets that would be nice to have but aren’t essential to the job. Look beyond your wish list to see who might thrive in your company’s environment even without all your ideal attributes.

2. Expand your talent pool

If you insist upon finding a candidate you don’t have to train, you could add months to your search for a new hire. You could probably train someone in that amount of time while also benefitting from the value that person may add in other ways as they ramp up. Look for coachable, high potential candidates who have transferrable skills that will help them overcome the lack of specific experience.

According to the 2018 MRINetwork Performance Management Study, nearly 80 percent of the employers surveyed agree or strongly agree that finding quality industry-experienced talent is more difficult than ever, and that their companies are more likely to hire people who have transferrable skills, but lack industry experience. By considering those with transferable skills, you can significantly expand the number of applicants and focus on more general skills, such as organization, teamwork and communication, which might be just as important for the role, but are much less teachable than specific, technical skills.

Both employers and candidates see poor communication as a problem in this area, according to the study. Companies need to make it clear they are open to candidates who have applicable expertise, despite their lack of industry experience. Candidates need to focus on how they discuss transferrable skills during the interview process and demonstrate how those skills can be applied to a different industry.

3. Creativity and Accountability – get the team involved.

One way to amp up your talent pool is to involve the team, assign accountability to anyone with Manager in their title within your organization.  Make it clear that hiring for their department is under their control and that HR is a strategic partner.  Approach hiring in this labor market much like you would if you were opening a new store, hold events, promote the position, including the two P’s.

  • Positives – why would someone work here? Have someone who is successful do a presentation at the Open House or Hiring. This can be a top gun in the role, have them tell their success story and promote it.

  • Potential – what is the potential of the position – where can they go both in income and career pathing. Lay out success stories and promote on the Career Center on your website.

4. Offer one time sign-on perks that attract candidates

The MRINetwork study also indicated that half of the surveyed employers are increasing the rate at which they offer sign-on perks. Among the top perks that organizations are willing to provide are company-paid health insurance, sign-on bonuses and moving expenses. Candidates are on the same page as employers about the desirability of these benefits, with 76 percent citing both sign-on bonuses and health insurance, and 54 percent citing moving expenses as most important to them. A number of employers stated they are willing to offer tuition reimbursement (33 percent) and even help in repaying student loans (23 percent) as incentives.

Employee perks can have a significant impact on your ability to attract desirable candidates and lower employee turnover. Some of the standard benefits packages offered by companies just aren’t cutting it, which is why many firms have decided to augment them in order to stay ahead of their competition for top candidates. As one hiring authority observed, “There are severe shortages of qualified employees in many sectors of the labor market. This makes it an employee’s market and it thus requires incentives (higher pay, bonuses, etc.) to acquire and maintain quality employees.”

An interesting finding of the survey suggested that while employers are boosting sign-on perks, many candidates are unaware of the potential perks they could be leaving on the table. Organizations will need to become more forthcoming about these perks during the hiring process and address the skepticism that some candidates have about sign-on perks. “Companies are willing to pay for one-time extras to get the people who best match or exceed their ideal candidate profile,” said one potential candidate, “but they may not, however, be willing to start at a higher compensation level.”

In a down market, candidates will be less demanding and more flexible with employers. But in today’s market, applicants have numerous options, so it is imperative that that the way employers approach them and the advantages that are offered give candidates every reason to want to join a company.

If you do offer a one-time sign on bonus, pay for significant moving expenses or other perks, it is very standard and acceptable to require a commitment from the employee using a Reimbursement agreement.   Feel free to call my office and we are happy to share our knowledge of these agreements including clawback provisions to recoup expenses.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in the Top 10 in Recruitment Firms by Forbes Magazine.

Top Secret –Insider Tips on hiring a Recruiting Firm
Top Secret – Insider Tips on hiring a Recruiting Firm.jpg

Direct from a Managing Partner’s desk…here is some insight and tips on hiring an Executive Search and Recruitment Firm. We hope you enjoy this month’s blog article. Our goal to provide real world insight on selecting a search firm in today’s talent driven marketplace.

When speaking to a Recruiting professional these are just a few ideas and tips including questions to ask before making a choice.

  • Does the search firm demonstrate the working knowledge in your industry? How long have they been practicing and are they subject matters in your industry?

In other word, a Health Care Recruiter is very different from an Aerospace Recruitment firm.  For example; a Health Care specialist is going to have very little knowledge base of the demographics and the current trends in those industries that are outside of their comfort zone.

  • Does the search firm know and understand the competitive forces in your industry and the headwinds that you face? Did they ask specific relevant questions on the must haves for the role.

  • Has the firm completed searches at the level you are seeking, for example; Director of Sales – Business Development or Chief Financial Officer are two divergent roles to fill.

  • Do they have the network of contacts – the key here is to understand the average time to complete a search, often referred to as “average time to fill.” We look at the time to fill formula as the date the search assignment began to the start date.

  • Who is going to complete the search? Is a competent Senior Account Executive overseeing the search or is most of the work being done by a support person?

  • Ask about the cadence of the search and the “all important” progress reports? How long will it be before you can expect be begin interviewing the first candidates?

  • Did the search firm complete a detailed needs analysis to gain the knowledge of your organization so that it can gain market intelligence on your company, its business units, products and services, corporate strategies and outlook.

Tip: Keep this in mind, the search firm you engage will act as your ambassador for your company and they will be the first point of contact as an arm of your company.  You’ll want the person conducting the search to be both likeable and possess the ability to engage, communicate and assess talent in your industry.

  • Contingency or Retained Search Firm – ok, here is the difference from my chair. A contingency firm is generally a higher volume firm and involves the Account Executives having a larger number of clients and assignments. We hear it all the time from within the Recruiting world that it’s a numbers game and typically these firms will lead with their latest and greatest top talent candidate.  Their sales pitch includes references to statements like, “you don’t have to send me a retainer, if you don’t like my candidates… you don’t have to hire them.”  A retained search firm on the other hand is going to want some “skin in the game” from both parties.  This typically entails a deposit up front, another progress payment at the submission stage and final payment on completion.  By their very definition you are hiring a specialist with a retained search firm and they typically work on projects and assignments and they can dedicate resources accordingly.  You must weigh the pros and cons of a retained search firm including comparing their performance with contingency firm results.

  • What is the search firm’s retention rate also known as the stick rate during the first twelve months following placement? We believe the stick rate should be 90% or higher. It is our belief that nobody’s perfect.  Recruiting is a people business and things can happen outside of the company, executive and recruiter’s control.

  • Is the firm a Relocation Expert? In today’s tight labor market, a firm may have to source executives that require relocation. In today’s economy, a firm that is not comfortable handling relocation can really cost you landing an A-level top talent.

  • What is their policy on travel and expense reimbursement for candidates.  A full-service firm is also a Relocation Expert assist you and will also act as a true concierge arrange all interviews including expense reimbursement to the candidates.  They will pass through the final candidate travel expenses to the company at the completion of the assignment.  There should not be administrative costs to helping with travel and there should not be delays in getting candidate’s reimbursement for their travel.

  • Has the firm completed a compensation analysis prior to presenting your offer to the candidate? In other words, do they know that the candidate will accept your offer or are they just hoping for the best. A wise man once said; “we don’t believe in hope, we believe in executing and knowing the details.”

  • What is the typical guarantee; on average we are generally seeing 90 days, however, guarantees are all about risk management. The higher the search fee the higher level of guarantee. Ask the firm about their policy and what are the details.  Most firms will produce additional candidates in the event of a performance issue or a voluntary resignation within the guarantee period. It is extremely rare to see refund policies in any search firm agreement and for that matter in any professional services agreement in general.

  • Search Fees – Let’s talk about the all-important fee basis for executive search firms.

We find today that the average fee in the US is approximately 21% of the base salary and it can be as low as 15% for some contingency firms. We have also seen some Retained search fees going as high as 35% for search assignments at the C-Level.

Just like hiring any professional, when you hire an executive recruiter the key is to focus on the result. At the end of the day your goal is for the search firm to find you a High Performing A-Player.  If the firm does not perform then they have Mis-Fired and produced a Mis-Hire.  The cost of Mis-hire will have a huge negative impact on your bottom line.

The cost of a great hire is sometimes hard to quantify but it can really impact not only your sales but also your bottom line. That same great hire produces what I call a golden affect inspiring and influencing the people and improving their morale.

Finding and sourcing servant leaders is an art form. We believe that when you interview a recruiting firm and ask the right questions, you should hear a high level of confidence and engagement from that search professional.  This intuitively will tell you whether they have the right stuff to help you with your search assignment.

So, there you have it, a guideline to help you hire the right search firm.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in the Top 10 in Recruitment Firms by Forbes Magazine.

How to implement an effective contingent workforce recruitment strategy
How to implement an effective contingent workforce recruitment strategy | Connector Team Recruiting.png

According to Staffing Industry Analysts’ Workforce Solutions Buyer Survey 2018, respondents report that 22 percent of their staff is currently contingent, and project that by 2028 that figure will rise to 30 percent. As the blended workforce continues to grow, it’s becoming increasingly important to perfect your company’s recruitment strategies to consistently hire strong permanent and contract candidates that will drive business growth. No matter what industry you focus on, the ability to implement an effective contingent workforce recruitment strategy that is part of your overarching hiring plans is essential for success in today’s competitive job market.

“Many companies in the Retail and Home Furnishings and Electronics sectors are missing out on an opportunity to get key projects done using the growing GIG economy,” according to Bill O’Malley, Managing Partner of Connector Team Recruiting.  As I talk with leaders in our industry they talk about fears they have including; competition in areas such as the Digital play arena and the big changes in Supply Chain and Technology to name just a few examples. They describe a strong desire to grow and keep up with these changes. They also describe the reluctance to add management staff which I truly understand since I spent much of my early career in industry leadership roles. Adding a full time equivalent to a management team is a huge commitment to your P&L and operating structure. I think this is very prudent of these executives to weight these pros and cons carefully.

There are cost effective and very scale-able solutions available today at all levels of the organization.  Having a portion of your workforce contingent gives you maximum flexibility and allows you the ability to get projects done when times are very good, then scale back without the negative impact of cutting back your full time workforce when the next downturn materializes.

Our Contract Staffing Team in Philadelphia is outstanding in making sure that what we refer to  as “payrolling” of these contract staffing professionals is professionally managed and administered.  From my seat and view contract professionals are an amazing group of people, they are super talented and generally blend in very easily with your current team.  The big plus is that if these on demand professionals are not a good fit, a great staffing firm will quickly replace them with another.  With the increasing demand this part of the workforce has become comfortable with change and they embrace it and are not insecure about the assignment ending.  They know there is another project when this ends in fact many will tell you they have a choice of assignments to accept.

As you continue to read this article our team emphasizes the need for creating a strategy around this much like your overall branding, marketing or any other major strategic goals.

“Many newer companies make the mistake of assuming that coming up with an effective contingent talent acquisition strategy can happen overnight,” said Tim Ozier, senior director of contract staffing sales for MRINetwork. “The reality is that identifying hiring needs, searching for right-fit candidates and screening takes extensive time and consideration. Generally, the most successful strategies unfold with the help of staffing companies.”

Whether you are running a startup tech company or managing a team of long-time engineers, you and your organization are going to need a strong recruitment strategy, ensuring that you are focused on the talent decisions that will actually affect the organization’s ability to reach its business goals. Consider these methods for executing an effective plan that works for your team:

Strive to maintain balance

No matter how good your retention rate is, changes in employment are expected within any company. New projects, changes in strategy, new market opportunities can all have an impact on the staffing levels and skill requirements of any organization, big or small.

However, it’s key that your organization is always thinking two steps ahead when it comes to your contingent workforce recruitment strategy. While not all exits from the company can be anticipated, workforce planning is most effective when it resolves talent gaps while maintaining a balance of labor surpluses and shortages. This is best accomplished by using predictive analytics to monitor workforce trends inside your business, as well as in the external environment. When a company can accurately forecast future job openings, analyze current demand and talent, and measure predicted resources, it improves talent acquisition. “This ability to look ahead and recognize what your company will need and when, can enhance the success rate of recruitment,” said Ozier. “Keep one eye on current challenges – and one eye on future needs that your organization must prepare for.”

Encourage a blended workforce

Today’s workforce looks much different than it did even several years ago. With the onset of remote work, the gig economy and the appeal of telecommuting, it’s becoming rare to find a company filled completely with full-time, in-office employees. From the top down, organizations and employees can reap the benefits of a mixed workforce but first, your company needs to be on board with this kind of work environment.

One way to do this is by including discussions around the blended workforce during planning sessions with the entire organization. Demonstrating how contingent workers can help drive the organization’s bottom line, while cutting costs at the same time is key. In many cases, contingent workers are hired for projects that could not be completed by existing staff. Overall, creating clear means of communication across all sources of workers is beneficial.

Expand expectations of contract workers

In the past, contingent workers were mainly brought on for short-term projects with an official deadline in place. Today, not all of these employees operate on fixed-term contracts. In fact, there are long-term contracts that can last up to several years, or even indefinite contracts with no official end date.

If companies continue to view this pool of candidates as merely temporary, they are largely missing out on the talent that is today’s world of extremely skilled top performers. While you may only think of contingent workers as one-time fixers, merely filling a gap in talent while saving on costs, you’re losing out on the wealth of knowledge these highly skilled workers have to offer.

According to figures from a recent study published by Oxford Economics, IT, healthcare, public service agencies, financial services and professional services are among the top sectors using contingent labor as a solution. These organizations that require niche expertise can highly benefit in the long-term by sourcing from this top talent.

“Both organizations and contingent workers benefit greatly from contract staffing,” said Ozier. “Many times, the relationship and outcome is so great, these employees are later hired as permanent workers.”

Work with a staffing company

Industry focus is key for finalizing your recruitment strategy and the best way to do this is by working with a staffing organization. Not only do these agencies have working relationships with top talent, but they understand the specific skill sets needed in your given industry. When it’s the top candidates within your sector you’re looking for, staffing organizations can help you find them. Instead of training an inexperienced worker, you gain access to the right candidate for the job at hand. The recruitment firm takes care of all the talent sourcing, background checks, and preliminary interviewing activities to deliver highly qualified workers. For both permanent and contract work, this single-source solution can help you implement the best contingent workforce recruitment strategy.

Blog Post by: Bill O’Malley, Chief Recruiting Officer at Connector Team Recruiting.  Connector Team is recognized by leaders and leading consultants as the premier search firm in the Furniture | Appliance and Sleep vertical space. Connector Team is an affiliate office of MRINETWORK recently ranked in the Top 10 in Recruitment Firms by Forbes Magazine.