A Recruiter's Notebook: What Talent Shortage?

Unemployment is low. Demand for talent is high. Everyone is talking about the talent shortage! At the executive level, is there truly less talent or is it just harder to attract the best of the best to your company? I would argue that if you are creative, have a good story to tell and are willing to be aggressive, you can defy the odds.

Where does creativity come into play? You might consider a senior leader from another industry who can bring new insights to your team. Maybe there’s a candidate who was recently displaced (unemployed!) when her company was purchased by a private equity firm. Then there’s the high potential, less experienced candidate who doesn’t check all the boxes, but you know in your gut is going to be an “A” player. You should consider all these profiles as part of a diverse slate of candidates.

Do you have a compelling story? Top talent is looking for business growth, financial stability, innovative solutions, a healthy culture, social responsibility, and an opportunity to make an impact. When we engage with “passive” candidates, we are most successful when we can share a story with many of these elements (or something unique to your company). You and your hiring team should be able to articulate your story as a candidate moves through the process.

How aggressive are you willing to be? This may take the form of speed: the best candidates are often juggling multiple opportunities and may not endure a lengthy interview process. You may have to make an offer to the third person you’ve interviewed, even if you’d prefer to meet three more. You may need to offer a 15-20% bump in base pay (lateral moves are not happening), perhaps including a signing bonus or other unexpected perk. Being aggressive doesn’t replace being thorough; rather, it’s a mindset that says we’re going to get this done.

So, the talent is still out there. You just have to work a little smarter, faster, and pay for the talent you desire.   

Barry Elkus, 

Partner, Gilman Partners