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The State of Recruiting: Early Market Read 2021

“How is recruiting going? Must be really slow, right?”

By Tasia Allison

“How’s recruiting going? Must be really slow, right?” These are questions I receive every single day! I’m not sure if it’s true curiosity or if our clients are looking for more assurance that they aren’t the only ones hiring right now. It’s true, recruiting took a major pause in Q2 of 2020, but it’s been back to booming for the last several months. Here’s the skinny on what’s really going on in the recruiting world.

Executives and senior leaders are more engaged in the process than ever before. Instead of connecting through a telephone game of, “who’s looking for what,” we’re working directly with the hiring managers more frequently, as opposed to HR contacts. This could be because HR teams are running leaner than ever or maybe because leaders are taking more personal responsibility to get the right person in the right seat. Either way, we’re seeing a major shift in who is reaching out and recruiting.

Strategy and culture are key requirements for every position! If you thought that was the case before, you’d be surprised. Ever since the economy and our lives were upended last spring, leaders quickly learned they had to trim the fat as recruiting opened back, focus on filling their bench with more players that had skills and abilities for now and the future.

Engagement is playing another huge key in recruiting and culture. With the rise of remote working and businesses clinging to life, leaders are hunting to get engaged members on their team. Why? Because they know an engaged team member with a strong job fit means more discretionary effort. This means they’re looking for team members who do more than punch a clock, but rather put in extra effort because they enjoy their job—and that is carrying these businesses through changes and on to future prosperity. Right now, everyone wants these players on their team! This is one of the single greatest reasons we see a massive uptick at our firm; it’s because we recruit passive candidates helping you find those engaged players. Here’s the deal: engaged employees, are engaged! They aren’t looking for jobs and they definitely aren’t applying to yours—they have to be stolen, and you need a strong head-hunter who can do that for you!

Along the same lines of engaged candidates and strong culture fits, we’re seeing more confidential replacements. You’ve probably seen these super ambiguous job descriptions floating around out there. Confidential searches are utilized to handle sensitive searches without disruption to the organization.  They can be used to replace a current employee who is essential to the business but isn’t performing; a position the business can’t afford to have empty or they can be used to replace an employee who isn’t ready to share with the organization that they are leaving or why. While confidential searches can feel a little taboo, they can be an effective tool when handled by a strong recruiting partner.

So, what type of roles are we seeing early in 2021? Executives in HR, Supply Chain, Finance, and Sales have a lot of movement. We’re finding this is really going back to strategy. Here are some highlights on the function areas:

  • Human Resources: Every HR team was forced to tackle COVID regulations head-on, and just as many teams handled each approach differently. Now we’re seeking the focus shift back to strategy and there’s a big focus now on employee engagement.
  • Supply Chain: If your supply chain wasn’t heavily diversified prior to 2020, it should be now. Companies that thrived during the last 12 months had a strong strategic leader at the helm of their supply chain… and those that didn’t? Well, they’re looking for them now!
  • Finance: Finance recruiting has been heavy all throughout the last year. Teams are pressed for accuracy and financial acumen. Executives have leaned heavily on their finance teams and continue to make adjustments to their bench strength.
  • Sales: With all the pivots to markets and restrictions, companies are looking to bring the best sales hunters to their organizations bating them with uncapped earning potential and flexible schedules and work environments.

Lastly, but not surprisingly, we’re seeing tighter than ever budget constraints for top talent. Some organizations are shrinking their salary budgets while setting higher expectations for candidates and their employees. While we understand the dilemma and constraints, we continue to encourage clients to develop consistent compensation philosophies and external benchmarking.  As the adage goes, “you get what you pay for.”

If you’re looking for recruiting services, be sure to do your diligence with the goal in mind of identifying a trusted, long-term talent partner who understands engagement and culture fit. Click here to speak with me about your recruiting strategy and let’s work together to develop the best strategy for your team!

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The recruiting landscape continues to evolve rapidly, forcing executives to adapt for optimal performance. Curious about the value of passive candidates? Wondering about the risks associated with job-hopping?

W Talent Solutions’ 2023 Talent Predictions offers helpful insights for the coming year from our experienced recruiters.

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