Five Things Every Hiring Manager Should Know in a Candidate-Driven Market

To be competitive, hiring managers need to accept that it is crucial to be flexible in order to be the first choice for top talent.

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While we started to deal with talent shortages even before Covid-19, the last couple of years made it even harder to find candidates. Many professionals leave their jobs because they want to continue working remotely or in a hybrid setup, move to greener pastures with better perks and benefits, or simply gain a stronger work-life balance. The Great Resignation made it very clear that the priorities have changed. Hiring managers need to be more flexible, creative and open-minded in this candidate-driven market.

As I hear from recruiter colleagues from other industries in the U.S., Canada and Europe, it's apparent to me that this is a global problem and not specific to a certain discipline. Here are some tips from a recruiter on how to get ahead of the competition and hire the talent your company needs.

1. Offer remote work and other perks.

In 2022, remote work is no longer a privilege — it should be an option for every employee. Yes, there are times when people must be in the office, whether that be because of the nature of the job (e.g., being a dentist), if an employee is new to a position, or if there needs to be collaboration time face-to-face. But besides that, it should not be mandatory to spend five days in the office. If managers can't trust their employees, it can be a sign of not hiring the right people for the right jobs, or frankly speaking, a poorly managed firm and weak leadership. Based on our experience, the majority of the job seekers are looking for a work-life balance in a hybrid setup (i.e., two to three days in the office and two to three days working from home). Health benefits, personal and professional development opportunities, stress management and life coaching sessions are the most admired benefits and perks. The time of beer pong, corner offices and paid transit passes seems to be over.

2. Consider finding a trusted recruiting partner.

Posting a job and waiting for applicants is the past. Professional recruiters are not just well-networked matchmakers but also highly skilled storytellers who know the industry, your company and the skill gap you are dealing with. They know how to engage with passive talent to get them interested in your firm. When you decide to involve a recruiter, I recommend that you only engage one. It may convey desperation if top talent gets multiple phone calls from agencies that your firm would be interested in speaking with them. Moreover, good recruiters have a very strong relationship with their candidates. Your consultant will keep you in the loop if they are interviewing elsewhere.

3. Rethink compensation.

It is a candidate-driven market. There is a war out there for the best of the best. If your company can offer all the perks candidates are looking for, you still need to pay these people well. In the last two to three months, I've seen passive candidates start to ask for at least 20% to 30% higher salaries than in 2021. I'm not saying that hiring somebody who is only motivated by money is a good idea, even if it is a sales role. But talented people have many choices, and if you believe that your company name is enough to attract people below their market value, you are wrong. Just think about it: If somebody has a decent role, work-life balance and relatively good perks, why would they give up everything in such an unstable world where everybody is just trying to return to their normal after the pandemic?

4. Reevaluate your interview experience and turnaround times.

Hiring managers need to be aware of the fact that people have choices. There are many more open roles out there than job seekers. Companies need to make sure they provide a smooth and efficient interview experience and that candidates can get through the process fast — and I mean really fast. Before the pandemic and even just a year ago, it was acceptable to have multiple rounds, panel interviews and a long decision-making period afterward. Candidates waited weeks, sometimes even a month or two, to hear back, especially in the case of larger firms. If an organization wants to stay competitive, it must be ready to pull the trigger almost immediately. Last week our team tapped somebody on the shoulder at 10 a.m., we interviewed the candidate at 12:30 p.m., and the hiring manager met with the individual at 2:30 p.m. On the way out, there was a phone call from another recruitment agency on behalf of another hiring manager to speak virtually at 4:30 p.m. — and yes, they made an offer right there.

5. Employer branding is a constant exercise.

Top talent usually has at least two or more offers on the table nowadays. Please don't take it personally when they decide to turn down yours. Think about it as an opportunity to improve. Always ask why they chose to go in a different direction and be humble enough to accept the feedback. If your company is the lucky one today, it doesn't mean that your next offer will also be accepted. Try building momentum and keep in mind: These candidates might be back in the game one day, and you want to be ready. Also, they may recommend somebody for you if they had a good experience.

Conclusion

There is a war out there for top talent. To be competitive, hiring managers need to accept that it is crucial to be flexible in order to be the first choice for top talent. What we say to our clients is that it is best to put themselves in the shoes of the job seekers. These people have been working remotely for a couple of years now; they want mental health, flexibility, decent pay and a role they love.

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