As vaccines have rolled out and time living with Covid is (hopefully) coming to an end, many companies are moving forward with hiring needs that have been put on hold during the early parts of the pandemic. At the same time, employees themselves have had time to reconsider their situation and many are more open to considering a job change. These factors have contributed to an extremely active employment market in which companies are finding it challenging to hire their top choice candidates. Here are some ideas for companies to navigate this difficult environment:
Timeliness: React quickly when a qualified candidate expresses interest in the position. Traditionally, many companies want to collect a pool of candidates, interview them, and then select the best candidate. This worked well in the past but many of the companies we work with are finding that their first choice has already accepted another offer when they finally decide they want to move forward with that candidate. To counter this, we suggest companies respond the day of receiving a resume with a request for an interview. It’s important to interview quickly, collect feedback and keep the process moving forward. If you move with speed on top-tier candidates, you could possibly get them off the market before other companies begin competing for their services. Also, as the candidate is moved through the process ask them to keep you updated on the status of other possible interviews with other companies. It is not enough to ask them once, reconfirm with them on a regular basis. We have had numerous candidates tell us one week there are no other roles they are considering only for us to hear the next week that they have 2 companies who have reached out and are moving quickly on them.
Court the candidate: It is important to keep the candidate up to date on interview feedback and where they stand in the process. Be sure to have regular communication with them so that they feel like you are invested in their candidacy. Also, confirm that your colleagues who are doing the interviewing paint a clear picture of what the selling points of the role/company are, as well as what the career path for the candidate could be. It is also helpful for the hiring manager to follow up with the candidate at the end of interviews and prior to extending an offer in order to reinforce the interest in the candidate and to address any reservations the candidate might have.
Consider making the positions remote: One of the first questions I receive from many candidates when discussing a job opportunity is, “can it be remote?”. Having all worked remotely throughout the pandemic, many employees have seen the positives of doing so and feel they can be as productive or possibly even more working from home. Therefore, many are not willing to relocate solely for the sake of accepting a new job. Given this, if your role can be remote or at least offer a hybrid scenario, you will substantially increase your pool of qualified candidates. We recommend stating in your posting that the role can be remote for the right individual.
Be prepared to offer substantially higher compensation. Before Covid, the offers we saw were generally in the range of 8-15% higher than the current base salary of the candidate. We are now seeing offers substantially higher than that. Given new laws in many states restricting questions about current compensation, it is important to ask candidates for their desired compensation. It may also make sense to start discussions internally about the need for increasing salary bands for offers. Another component of offers we are seeing again are sign-on bonuses. Historically, sign-on bonuses have been used to offset pieces of compensation the candidate is leaving on the table, however more frequently they are being used as an incentive to secure an acceptance.
Be prepared for counteroffers. Given how hard it is to hire new employees, when a highly valued employee gives notice, many companies are quick to extend a counteroffer with sizable salary increases and accommodations for work from home. Keeping this in mind, when extending an offer ask them directly if they expect a counteroffer. At that time, it’s a good idea to remind them of the reasons they were looking for a new role to begin with and all the advantages your company has to offer.
If they do accept your offer, be sure to stay in touch not only through their resignation but all the way through to their start date. Do not be surprised if they let you know they have a counteroffer. It’s best to remain unemotional and to discuss internally whether it makes business sense to increase the original offer. If not, let the candidate know that you have put forth the best offer possible and unfortunately cannot increase it. It’s a good idea to stay on good terms and maintain a level of professionalism because the reality is that most people who accept counter offers end up restarting their search within 6 months. If you handle the situation well, it’s possible that at some point down the road you could reconsider hiring that candidate.
The forces affecting the job market right now are unprecedented. By taking into account these considerations, we hope that you will have more success with your hiring. As always, please reach out to DW Simpson if we can provide additional insights into the job market or assist with generating more qualified candidates for your open roles.
By Dan Karrow, Senior Director at DW Simpson