Put a Ring On It: Recruiting in a Candidate-Driven Market

I can't tell if people think I'm just plain crazy or that I'm being disingenuous when I tell them that I'm a startup junkie. Inevitably, they ask if I've "cashed in", assuming that's why I still drink the Kool-aid. But the answer is I haven't.  Not really, anyway.  So why do I love them so?

We all have a “friend” who dated someone for years who was kicked to the curb for somebody else willing to make a commitment.  Just like our “friend”, companies are being kicked to the curb by candidates who have no need to wait when multiple suitors are proposing offers.

Even worse, some companies have been trained to slow their hiring processes for fear of making a bad hire - a cultural mismatch, technical mismatch, or a premature hire the company can’t afford.  Such outdated paradigms will cost them big when competing for exceptional tech employees in a candidate-driven market.

A recent Recruiter Sentiment study by MRINetwork found the top two factors keeping employers from adding to their headcount are lengthy hiring processes and hiring managers not finding enough suitable candidates.  Companies that refuse to acknowledge the tech industry is in a candidate-driven market continue to do so at their peril.  Stringing along a candidate because you can’t get your shit together will cause you to lose exceptional talent to the competition who has already figured this out.  And your cold feet will also affect your ability to source suitable candidates to fill your pipeline.

But here’s the real heartbreak: if you go by the estimate that an employee generates two times their annual salary in the work they produce, every day a role remains unfilled is costing you.

Henry Ward, CEO of eShares, has put a lot of thought into how to hire.  In an excerpt from their November 2015 Town Hall, Ward argued that companies tend to take their time with hiring because they’re afraid of “False Positives”.  False Positives are hires you thought would work out but didn’t.  “False Negatives” are candidates you didn’t hire but should have - the ones who got away.  A poetic example of a False Negative is Brian Acton.  Facebook didn’t hire him in 2009, and then bought his company WhatsApp in 2014 for $19B.  Oh, the wasted years.  And money!  Ward’s point?  Learn from False Positives and hire better next time.  False Positives are okay; False Negatives are not.

But all this talk of moving faster isn’t to say you can take your eye off the prize.  You still need to try to hire candidates whose best work is in front of them.  However, in a candidate-driven market, you can’t let slow, inefficient, or overly sequential processes dominate.  Hiring should use the same agile methodology as software development - move quickly, fail quickly, adjust, repeat.

So don’t be afraid to hire fast and fire fast if the match isn’t right.  But do be afraid - very, very afraid - of what you’ll lose if you let your hiring process slow you down and get in the way of hiring those next great candidates.  They won’t wait long for you to put a ring on it.

If your startup needs a recruiting strategy for a candidate-driven market, HireLabs can help.