The War For Talent Is Over – And Guess Who Won?

Companies everywhere are scrambling for talent. Dozens of magazines have called it a “War for Talent.” It certainly is a “war” where I work in the Silicon Valley, but the part of the story that you probably haven’t read is that in the Silicon Valley…the war for talent is already over! And guess who won? The candidates have won! What does that mean to firms? It means that as the victors, candidates can demand almost anything and get it. Top performers, IT people, and experienced managers are now in the drivers seat. As recruiters, we need to realize that the power has shifted and begin to change the way we recruit to fit this new reality. For the last decade companies have been able to place ads in newspapers or put signs outside their doors and get numerous “walk-ins” who would eagerly go through any process to get an offer. Now that the candidates have the upper hand, HR must shift its recruiting approach so it:

  • Is faster
  • More customer service friendly
  • Find out what candidates want and tailor your offers to meet the candidates demands
  • Finds ways to convince employed people that are well treated to change companies

Since the war is over, here are the dramatic things you can expect now that the applicants hold the power! THE VALUE OF TOP TALENT CHANGES “DAILY”

In the “old” days you could use a once a year salary survey to determine the market value of your candidates. In the “new reality,” candidate economic values change on an almost daily basis. Easily accessible web page salary surveys and e-mails between friends and with “headhunters” now means candidates know their “market value.” You can no longer “fool” the applicants with a weak monetary offer. Just like with new cars…the Internet means that candidate value is no longer a secret. Solution – Survey new hires and ask about the range of their other offers, use executive search professionals as “offer consultants” and do “mini” salary surveys each month for key jobs. Track “turndowns” and track those that accept our offers and find out what works and what doesn’t. SPEED IS EVERYTHING

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Heed the 10/ 10 rule. Top firms like HP have found that the top 10% of the candidates accept jobs within 10 days. Indecisive managers and slow HR administration means you will lose the best applicants. Solution – Develop a one-day interview and offer process for key positions. Pre-qualify candidates and cut the number of interviews and approvals. Get the time to fill for key jobs down to one week. GET READY TO BID FOR THE BEST Expect the best candidates to get multiple offers and internal counter offers. In the Silicon Valley there are “talent agents” that shop around the best IT talent to the highest bidder. “e-bay” has already had IT people put themselves up for bid on line. Solution – Prepare “comparison offer” sheets to educate your managers as to where our offer is superior to the competitors. Prepare two counter offer proposals for your top recruits. Increase sign-on bonus and stock option limits. Decrease the focus on internal equity and give your managers authority to give candidates what the market demands (as long as any “over-pay” is tied to performance). MONEY ISN’T ENOUGH

After you “show them the money” you need to meet the candidates “is this a better job” expectations. Applicants expect control, growth, communication, a great manager and a work/life balance in addition to the money. Solution – Develop “job content” offers that provide candidates with the “better job” features that they require in order to trigger them to change companies. Describe the firm’s plans to challenge them and to keep hem on the “bleeding edge” of knowledge. Tell them about their first projects and describe how they can expect to be managed. Show them how the “content” of this job is superior to their current one. TREAT THEM LIKE WINNERS When business held all of the power we treated candidates poorly. It was a “don’t call us…we’ll call you,” keep them in the dark and do what we say or else approach. Now that the power has shifted, applicants refuse to be treated that way. They expect recruiting to go from the “graceless process” (as Michael McNeal the head of employment at Cisco calls it) to one that treats applicants like future customers. Solution – Firms need to establish continuous customer service measures to monitor how candidates feel throughout the recruitment process. Feedback and communication mechanisms need to be developed so that candidates know what is happening. Customer service training needs to be available to managers and recruiters. CONCLUSION The power has shifted to the applicants in the Silicon Valley. If it hasn’t happened in your “neighborhood,” it will. It’s just a matter of time. If you are having a difficult time recruiting the answer may be that you haven’t shifted your recruiting strategy to meet the new realities.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

 

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