Your manager level position remained vacant for several months and you are relieved/excited to have offered the job to a wonderful, well qualified candidate. Mr/Ms. Perfect has six years of Big 4 Consulting experience and direct industry experience. The candidate finally accepts the offer; they are set to start in two weeks. This guy is your first round, #1 draft pick.
You can finally take that long awaited vacation in a couple of months that you have been putting off for weeks, and maybe even have some time to wash your car, take your spouse to dinner and hopefully feed your starving dog. You visualize yourself on the beach sipping something very cold that may or may not come with a tiny umbrella.
The phone rings, snapping you back to reality. It is your recruiter informing you that Mr./Ms. Perfect has, in fact, changed his/her mind, and is going to stay with that mediocre company that he/she has worked for the last 5 years. How could he/she? More importantly, what are you going to do?
The war for talent has become more competitive. Technical expertise is in very high demand. Then take into consideration how many baby boomers are starting to retire. America’s largest 50 companies will lose over half of their Senior Management talent over the next 5 years. Since February of 2006, approximately 23% of new job offers have been turned down in the Accounting and Finance disciplines. That is 13% higher than the average turn down rate of all other combined business disciplines. 75% of HR Directors surveyed said that “attracting and retaining talent” was their number one business priority for this year.
Think of recruiting talent in a similar way a professional football coach thinks of his own team. At some point, Bill Belichick knew that he might need a quarterback other than Drew Bledsoe. Although his 6th round 2000 NFL Draft pick was not regarded as “top tier”, Bill felt that he needed to have a QB with great potential on stand by. Tom Brady was called to duty after Bledsoe was injured, and they finished the season as Super Bowl Champions! In the recruiting process, you never know who may become your Tom Brady. It is always smart to keep a #2 candidate in play at all times.
Creative Recruiting and Incentives
Smart companies are getting more creative in their recruiting process offering sign-on bonuses, fast-tracking bonuses, flexible work schedules, and other incentives. This is especially true in the A & F arena.
I recently worked a position where the 1st round draft pick requested an allowance for his doggy day care as he would be moving into the city. True, this was among the most bizarre request I’ve seen in my recruiting career. Still, the client was happy to oblige in order to secure this exceptional candidate. It is also common for companies to offer additional incentives to encourage their key associates to stay.
The Dreaded Counter Offer
Counter offers can actually be a blessing in disguise. Although money is of course a motivator with candidates looking for new positions, it is usually not at the top of their list. Candidates that do take monetary counter offers are primarily after the money, and are thus always a retention risk.
Ask the important question up front – “why are you looking to change?” Make the candidate give specific reasons and examples of why they are looking to change. Their examples will help to truly identify and verify their true motivation for making a career move. This may also help to drive home the unpleasantness of their current position, and subtly reminds them that it is time to make a change – regardless of what their current company offers.
Be Prepared with a #1 and #2 Draft Pick
• Keep your #1 and #2 candidates in play
• Do not let go of the candidate #2 until your hiring process is complete with candidate #1
- Background check
- Drug screen
- Agreed upon start date
- Signed offer letter
Whether it is a counter offer, or #1 decides to go with another company, the trend will continue as the battle for top talent gets even fiercer. We can prepare ourselves by knowing what the risks are up front, instead of allowing ourselves to be defeated because we did not have the right weapons to win the big game.
Posted by Theo Keyserling, Lucas Group Accounting & Finance Executive Search