Despite double-digit unemployment in most areas, managers looking for professional talent continue to find that it’s difficult to find and land great talent.
Companies continue to face pressure to remain efficient and cut costs; there are relatively few open roles and they are judicious about finding exceptionally experienced and talented people to fill them. Companies have little runway to train and are looking for someone who’s been doing the same or a similar role for the past few years. And, high growth companies that are growing are often in a space with other growing competitors—take mobile for instance—tapping into the same tight pool of talent, like those experienced with Android, an operating system that’s been deployed less than two years.
For employees in one of those hot growth areas (digital content, content delivery, mobile, ecommerce, consumer software) or key functions (making, marketing or selling product), that generally means lots of options and opportunities. Companies need to hunt these people down—they are usually too engaged to post their resumes on job boards or read job postings. Recruiting calls come in frequently and when these rock stars decide to change jobs, there are often numerous opportunities and competing offers.
A great number of people don’t interview well. Some of the top talent gets recruited into new roles by executives they worked with in the past and don’t have to go through a rigorous interview process. Someone once said to me, “there may be a reason that person interviews so well”, eluding to a history of ‘job shopping’. And, an unfortunately large group of people simply blow it—too stretched with a demanding day job to do enough homework, to be on time, too tired to perform. All of that shrinks the viable candidate pool further.
Not all is rosy on the employer side either. In the same stretched environment, too many phone screens take place, instead of time consuming face to face interviews, interviews get bumped or rescheduled at the last minute and interviewers who show up late and who are less than focused are common. Too often companies jump right into ‘grilling’ candidates and forget about ‘selling’. Not enough positioning takes place about why someone would want to work at your company vs. Apple, Google or a number of other viable competitors.
Elite level candidates are not looking for a paycheck—there are any number of companies that will provide them with that. They are looking for an intellectual challenge, a group of people they resonate with and a chance to move their career to the next level.
If you want to land top tier talent, you need to ‘turn it on’. Welcome candidates, show them around, talk about the company strategy, make them feel wanted. Lunch, coffee or dinner can differentiate you from others trying to woo the same person. Think about your best interviewing experiences and try to ‘one up’ that.