January 10, 2022
The good news is that It IS possible to hire great people! In fact, this is a record-breaking year for Accountants One. However, it is also the toughest and most frustrating market on record.
In an attempt to bring value to anyone hiring at this time, we thought we would share FIVE proven strategies that are providing companies with hiring success.
You mean, “think long-term?” No, a good first step for today’s market is to “think short term.”
Here is an example highlighting the importance of thinking “short-term” in today’s hiring market…
A client interviewed a candidate – the culture and skillset were perfect. However, the candidate was committed to a family priority — morning caretaker to his 9-month-old.
The couple made the decision to split the day with the husband taking the morning and the wife taking the afternoon. Daycare was an option in the future.
The client was able to think “short-term” allowing the flexibility to respect the family’s plans. And while the new employee starts their day in the office at noon, they have a wonderful addition to their team. They thought “short-term” and were able to make a great hire!
Here are a few other places where thinking “short-term” may make sense:
Salaries – Create monetary incentives to attract talent. We are big fans of sign-on bonuses and short-term incentive programs.
Contractors – Can you solve a short-term solution with a temporary employee? Overqualified talent is a great way to impact productivity. Even if you must pay more for a contractor, these additional costs are only temporary.
Well-crafted Policies – It is impossible to know where the hiring market will be in 6 months, much less two years. So, create policies that allow you to review and adjust.
Short-term thinking should act as a strategy to adapt to these highly unusual and turbulent times so that great organizations can create even more meaning for their most important resource – their PEOPLE!
Invest in defining the mission of the role
Meaningful work matters more than ever. As we continue in a post-pandemic world, people’s priorities continue to shift. People are deeply searching for meaning.
As hiring managers, we can help candidates recognize the potential for meaning by clearly defining the mission of the company and how one’s role within a company helps augment that mission. For example, a client in the nonprofit space saw a huge increase in engagement when they changed the title of their Controller role:
After: Controller serving a non-profit dedicated to feeding the hungry
Further, by accentuating the impact of the Controller’s role throughout the job description, candidates were able to visualize the difference they could make by taking on the Controller role. This holistic approach to career mission building made a big difference in the quality of the candidate pool.
But what about a “for-profit” organization?
Needless to say, defining the mission must be more than wordsmithing. Making a job sound socially or personally meaningful in an attempt to “lure” unsuspecting candidates is a recipe for disaster on so many levels. But let’s take an example where a “for-profit” client genuinely attracted more and better candidates by focusing on the mission:
Before: Senior Accountant
After: Senior Accountant – making the world a greener place
This is a very large recycling company with a mission to ensure a sustainable environmental, energy, and economic future. True, in a large corporation it is harder to see the genuine impact of an individual, but it is worth the effort of defining. By carefully clarifying the impact of a single individual on the company’s mission, the client attracted higher quality and more culturally aligned candidates.
Think outside of the box
A common denominator with companies successful in managing growth is the ability to “think outside of the box” when it comes to attracting talent.
We are asking clients certain questions in this market. We have seen a strong correlation between the ability to effectively answer these questions and success in attracting, hiring, and retaining exceptional talent in today’s market. Here are ten questions designed to stimulate “out of the box thinking”
1) Do you really need to hire in the first place? Are there other ways to handle the workflow? Can a contractor do the job? An intern? How about a part-time solution? Can you outsource the work? Can someone else on the current team do the job?
2) Are all your requirements necessary? Do you really need a CPA? An MBA? An Accounting Degree? Are you constricting your talent pool unnecessarily?
3) Can you use this market as an opportunity to hire and train? How about hiring an entry-level person and training them into the role?
4) How is your organization positioning itself in the post-Covid (knock on wood) landscape? Are you effectively sharing your unique culture in a positive and bright light? Are your CSR initiatives helping to define the genuine impact of your organization — attracting people in line with your mission?
5) Are work objectives obsessively clear? This is even more important in a virtual world. Are you providing enough clarity around the goals to be accomplished? Do prospective employees understand how those goals will be measured?
6) Are you allowing new leaders to emerge? During these remarkable and quickly changing times, new leaders are emerging – ready to adapt and share their unique perspective on solving business problems in today’s unique environment. How are you staying open to identify and attract new knowledge workers?
7) Internally, is there enough shared trust in the hiring team? In order to get teams to “think outside of the box,” trust is essential. Make sure that as your internal team strives to recruit talent, they feel safe in the brainstorming process.
8) Are you still having fun? Humor can create an environment where candidates are more comfortable. It is akin to putting out a welcome mat at the front door — a fun environment opens the doors wide for potential new employees.
9) Are you keeping score? Tracking hiring metrics is a beneficial way to enhance the flow of new employees. Peter Drucker said, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it.” How are you measuring the flow of potential candidates?
10) Are you paying for performance? Salaries have skyrocketed for many key positions. Structured one-time bonuses for achieving company goals may provide the leverage needed to attract, hire, and retain an exceptional candidate in today’s market.
What is “TRUE recruiting?”
At Accountants One we define “TRUE recruiting” as compiling a list of at least 100 potential candidates for a targeted role and then touching base with every one of those 100 candidates. These are highly professional and highly confidential career-focused calls.
The desired outcome of these career-focused recruiting calls is a dialog between knowledge workers (potential candidate and recruiter). Most often this leads to the recruiter respecting and celebrating a happily employed person. Often, a conversation about referrals ensues. Occasionally, the professional dialog leads to a candidate interested in exploring the market.
The average number of reach outs needed to engage in a meaningful, professional conversation is seven. Yes, believe it or not, in today’s market it takes 700 phone calls to effectively recruit for one role! In today’s market, this is largely the case for ALL the roles we work on in the Accounting / Finance space – from CFO to Controller to Staff Accountant to A/P Clerk to Tax Accountant.
Even after moving from 100 potential candidates to a small pool of interested and qualified candidates, the recruiting adventure is not over. In fact, we are seeing an average of three different offers needed to finalize a hire.
In a nutshell – recruiting is harder than ever. The time commitment is extraordinary. The days of posting a job to the company website and receiving several excellent candidates are temporarily gone. The ONLY way to successfully create an effective talent pool is to engage in REAL recruiting.
The GOOD NEWS is that it is possible to hire in today’s upside-down market. Companies that can invest in “TRUE recruiting” are succeeding in hitting their hiring goals.
Get ready for a very tough search
Before you create a job description, develop a recruiting plan, or write a job advertisement, I suggest you psyche yourself up for a challenge. You are approaching a Gordian Knot that demands the right mindset. Here are a few of the business challenges you will most likely run into:
1) A nearly non-existent candidate market – candidates are few and far between in today’s market. And even the available candidates are not responding in traditional ways. We can’t take the time to explore why this is happening, but trust that it is. Therefore, you’ll need to be extremely strategic in getting the word out to as many potential candidates as you possibly can.
2) Be prepared to spend more money than you expected – the definition of an “A candidate” is the BEST candidate available for the budgeted salary. Because of market demand salaries are skyrocketing. The only way to get through this challenge is to figure out how to budget an increased salary or drop hiring criteria (settling for 2 years of experience instead of 5, dropping a CPA requirement, etc.).
3) Your search will probably take twice as long as expected – this is the result of a decrease in available candidates, along with a reevaluation of the meaning of work. The idea of work has changed from being a fairly simple concept (a 40 hour per week commitment at an actual business) to a multi-dimensional definition: on-site or offsite? How many days a week? Mandated vaccinations? Add a newly stoked demand for meaningful work and you can see why finding the “right” person demands so much time.
4) Don’t be surprised when you must make three offers to three different candidates before you finally make a successful hire – this is the reality of the day. Over the past few months, most companies are making two offers resulting in “no” before a third offer leads to a “yes.” Again, this is a factor of a market with more and weightier choices.
5) Never never never give up – Winston Churchill said it best. You’ll need a positive unrelenting attitude to recruit, hire and retain exceptional talent in today’s market. The good news is that if you heed the words of Churchill, you will be fine.
I hope there was value for you in these strategies. Good luck in 2022 – may you hire exceptional people!