For growing organizations, talent is vital. The people who make up your teams will be the reason you differentiate yourself from your competitors (or not), achieve or exceed your growth plans (or not), and will be active co-creators of an excellent (or terrible) company culture. Recruiting top talent is mission critical—and it’s also more difficult than ever. Low unemployment, a thriving tech industry, and increased competition for candidate’s time and attention all contribute to the challenges that organizations are facing.We act as consultative partners for our clients, helping them through the recruiting, interview, and offer process, to ensure that they are able to land the best possible candidate for the role. Here are some of the common roadblocks that prevent organizations from recruiting the talent they need:
Your Recruitment Process is Too Slow, or Too Long
Successful candidates have options in today’s market, and we’ve seen organizations miss out on the hire they wanted because they moved too slowly. If you’re waiting longer than a few days to get back to candidates after an interview you run the risk of them moving forward with another organization over yours. If you think they’re great, chances are that your competition will too.
How many steps are there in your interview process — is it more than 3? Do you ask candidates to do a case study, presentation, or some other form of homework? A process that drags on will be discouraging for everyone, but especially for any passive candidates in your pipeline. Yes, you want to do your due diligence and make sure you hire the right fit, but be respectful of your candidate’s time and effort. They need to schedule your interview process around their busy lives — and are likely trying to keep their job search confidential from their current employer.
You’re Not Selling the Role or the Organization
Interviewing is a two way process — just as you’re trying to evaluate whether or not a candidate is a good fit for your organization, the candidate is trying to figure out whether or not your organization is a good fit for them.
We recommend that a candidate’s first interview should be with someone who can sell the vision, purpose, leadership, and culture of the organization. Whether that’s the Founder or CEO, department head, or the top sales person — kicking off the process with someone who can create some enthusiasm and excitement for the organization and role will set the candidate up for the rest of the process. They’ll be more likely to continue making time for interviews if they can envision an exciting future in a new role — so start them off with someone who can paint that picture for them. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that every candidate is automatically excited about the position.
You should also be prepared to be honest about any baggage or negative perceptions of your brand in the market without appearing defensive. Be honest with yourself, and with candidates, about what they may have heard from others, and how you’ve addressed it. If you went through a round of layoffs a few years ago, talk about your financial runway. If company culture suffered under a difficult leader, talk about their replacement and your commitment to your values. If the location of your office makes for a difficult commute, talk about your flex time and work from home policies. Addressing those things proactively can go a long way to building credibility, and help to alleviate any worries that a candidate might have.
Everything in the Job Description is a “Must Have”
It’s very common for organizations to start a recruiting project with a massive job description, that includes every desirable skillset and experience the hiring manager can think of. The candidate needs to have deep industry knowledge, to have worked with the exact same tech stack as the organization, and to have solved a similar problem successfully multiple times in previous roles. Every item is considered essential.
In a few of the more extreme cases, we’ve seen job descriptions that ask for 10 + years experience in a programming language that’s only been in use for 5 years, what amounts to three different roles in one, or seeking out a candidate with experience leading a team of 50 even though the role will inherit a team of just 2.
This approach not only runs the risk of slowing down the search, it also means that potentially excellent candidates won’t bother applying if they don’t feel that they have the experience necessary. It also overlooks things like soft skills and growth potential. We recommend that organizations gently stretch the job description, to drill down into what really is a must have, and what would be a nice bonus.
Your Compensation Isn’t Competitive
There are many factors that impact a candidate’s decision to accept an offer—money is often not the most important reason, but it certainly does play a part. Most people have a lifestyle that is enabled by their earnings, and backed up by a doable commute, benefits package, vacation time, and last, but certainly not least, a work environment that allows them to level up in their careers and a leader who values their contributions.
If your salary bands are way below the market average for the kind of talent you need, it’s going to be difficult to attract those candidates. Lean on your recruitment partner—who spends the majority of their time talking to candidates out in the market—for insights into current compensation rates. And, if you know that your salaries aren’t quite competitive—a common reality for early stage companies—lean on benefits, options, bonuses, flexible arrangements, and other perks to position your opportunity.
Check out our series of Salary Insights blog posts for insight into compensation rates for recent searches. We’re sharing data to help the tech community better understand the factors that impact compensation within the industry.
Hiring is a high stakes endeavour. Recruiting top talent enables your organization to grow and thrive—while hiring the wrong fit can be detrimental to your bottom line, especially for the early-stage high-growth organizations we work with. Make sure you’re not getting in your own way by avoiding these four common roadblocks within the recruiting process.