I had an InMail on LinkedIn regarding recruitment, suggesting the Dilbert cartoon post I made came across as a bit snippy: was there a point to it? Was it directed at someone in particular? It wasn’t. I found it funny and it reflected some of the recruitment conversations I’ve had this year.
We read on a weekly basis about the skills shortage in Technology in the UK. We read about ‘the War For Talent’ and the high demand for technologists in most verticals and domains. Employers know this – Human Resources, In-house recruiters and agency-side live this reality every day; looking for a diamond in the rough. The thing is, the best candidates know their worth and just how transferable and sought-after their skills are.
On the balance of probability, it’s unlikely you’re building the next Google, Skyscanner, Facebook or Instagram. Whether you work for a mature technology vendor or an early-stage or start-up, you’d better have a very good ‘mission’, vision or dream if you’re offering it instead of cold, hard cash to new hires. Does your value-proposition have any basis in reality?
I recently met with a senior person at a software vendor. They’ve had an opening for months: months and months. It’s got to the point it’s embarrassing for all concerned. They’re offering a good job with an interesting software platform and tech to work on. The problem? Unrealistic salary and package. The shopping list of skills, experience and personal attributes runs to two pages. They are offering a salary at least £15,000 below market rate. The result? A PSL that can’t deliver, forcing the hiring Director into conversations with people like me. Me? I said thanks but no thanks.
Have you met a mortgage lender who will take ‘vision’ instead of cash? A credit card company who will accept passion, enthusiasm, grind and tech disruption as a minimum monthly payment? No. Me neither. Here’s the thing – if you don’t have a budget to hire the right skills and experience you need to be able to offer something else as real and tangible. Equity helps but it’s still high risk for the employee.
A vision to change the world (or a vertical, if not the entire planet) will need to be very, very attractive and have some chance in reality of happening. Building an ERP suite, a logistics platform or a payments system may be disruptive today and built on great tech, but they’re unlikely to change the world such that they will be remembered in 100 years time or even 10 years time.
The senior person I met at the vendor pushed back and asked if I was trying to bump-up my fee by suggesting the salary was too low. I pointed out that my offering is exclusive, retained, guaranteed and at a fixed fee. Put crudely, I get paid and paid the same amount regardless of who is hired and at what salary. If you keep punting the same tired old job spec to a PSL that can’t deliver (and is probably sick to death of the mandate), pushing a job that is so stale that most of the market has heard about it from multiple recruiters, don’t expect to fill that seat anytime soon. If you can’t afford to pay, you don’t get to play unless you have a very different approach to hiring and re-aligning your people.
Many years ago, I ran a very busy contract recruitment desk for Investment Banking and Hedge Fund Tech & Ops. The way I filled tough requirements back then also works for gnarly permanent recruitment mandates a decade and a half later. There is a solution to filling senior or very technical roles on a limited budget. No smoke and mirrors: a tried and tested route to recruiting positively, getting the right girl or guy on-board, keep your existing people happy and on-side. If you have a hiring problem like this, I may be able to help. If not me, another experienced, retained search recruiter will probably come up with this solution as well.