The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. Whatever you call it, the job market is crazy. So, what does it mean if you are trying to hire?
In a nutshell, move fast and be patient.
Yes, we are talking out of both sides of our mouth.
Based on what we have seen in the searches we are leading, what we are hearing from talent acquisition professionals focused on for profit and nonprofit, and what we are reading every day in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Chronicle for Philanthropy, Harvard Business Review, and many other publications hiring managers must be nimble and patient.
“Smart employers are making smart hiring decisions. When they meet a good candidate, they know it. They don’t choose to review 20 more resumes or interview 10 more candidates. Why? Because they know that time is of the essence and that if they don’t hire them, someone else will,” said Kristi Gage-Linderman of Gage Personnel in Pennsylvania.
We continue to advocate for a process, but the process must move swiftly. It is important for everyone who is involved in the interview process to be flexible and willing to rearrange their schedules to meet with candidates in a timely fashion—within days not weeks.
It is common for candidates to entertain multiple offers, so it is imperative that you lead with a strong offer. Now, is not the time to lowball. The Wall Street Journal article Companies Plan Big Raises for Workers in 2022 said, “Conference Board report says companies have budgeted more money for pay increases than at any point since 2008 with many citing higher inflation as the reason.” The Conference Board survey also says “companies are planning on raising salary ranges, which would result in higher minimum, median, and maximum salaries.”
We understand that nonprofit salaries and for-profit salaries are different, but everyone is still competing, and compensation is one important part of the puzzle. If you are not intentionally working to make your staff salaries competitive, you will miss out on top talent when the time comes to hire.
An area where nonprofits typically have more latitude is in the benefits arena. Now is the time to examine your PTO policy, your work for home options, your meeting free zones, etc. Check out my previous blog on flexibility (which is the name of the hiring game right now) for more ideas. If you are not at least willing to consider a hybrid schedule, you will likely miss out on top talent.
Candidates overall are being more discerning. Many are testing the waters only to decide that they don’t really want to make a change. Recruitment takes longer. Instead of 1 or 2 conversations with prospective candidates, we are often having 3 or 4. This is where the patience comes in. It can take longer to assemble a robust candidate pool. Searches that typically take 2-3 months can take 4-6 months or longer, especially for chief executives and senior-level managers and professionals.
One important way to expand your candidate pool is to really discern the most critical skills or experiences required. Not everything in your current job description is absolutely essential. The Judson Group based in Michigan said, “for example, you may realize that some of the technical skills or professional requirements are simply nice to haves, but not truly essential to the worker’s success at your company. If that’s the case, don’t make them absolutes and you’ll find yourself with more candidates for your open roles.”
The Harvard Business Review article How Midsize Firms Can Attract — and Retain — Talent Right Now offers another approach. “We focus on aptitude and passion,” says Katie Calabrese, the company’s head of HR. And while specs are important, “If you don’t quite meet them, we want you to apply anyway.” In other words, hire talent and then figure out where to plug them in. You may have an opportunity to shift responsibilities around with your current team, maximizing the skillsets of both your team and your new hire.
Being realistic about the most important requirements and being willing to entertain candidates who check some, but not all, of your boxes will give you a chance to look at a wide-range of candidates—some who are super talented but might not have passed the rigors of searches past.
Yes, it is a crazy time, but there are still very talented professionals out there. Be willing to be flexible, move fast, think creatively, and be patient. Sounds easy, right?