We have clients who tell us that in some parts of their businesses they literally have as many open roles as they have people. Each day they get further and further behind on their roadmap (despite everyone working a truly obscene number of hours). Their stakeholders and customers are cranky about it; and the existing staff feel like mice on spinning wheel.
Why can’t they hire?
If you’ve found yourself in a similar position, and you’re comfortable overworking your existing team, and letting your employer brand go down the drain (because trust me, word gets out), here are five ways to ensure your number of open roles goes through the roof. And you may just find yourself dealing with a few extra resignations as an added bonus!
1. Don’t make hiring your priority
Often the problem when it comes to hiring is that you don’t spend enough time on it.
There’s a cliché for sales people that says, “Always be closing”. Well there’s a similar one for business owners and hiring managers to “always be recruiting” – even if it means just keeping your eyes and ears open, and meeting with prospective talent for a coffee,
Let me guess … recruiters are sending you good candidates but you’re just sitting on them for a week or more? I can assure you that no recruiter – no matter whether they’re in-house, contingent, or hourly – wants to work with a hiring manager who does a great impersonation of a black hole.
If you’re not filling your roles, check with your hiring managers. Are they getting back to recruiters and candidates as quickly as possible? And, yes, I mean to prioritize hiring above everything else. After all, how are they going to hit their goals and targets if they don’t get the people through the door?
2. Don’t have a hiring process
“Hey guys – I just finished my phone interview with a great candidate. I love her! Uh… what do I do next?”
How often does this happen at your company? If it’s more than rarely, you probably have a process problem. And a process problem will cause you to lose candidates. Why? Because you won’t get back to them quickly (see #1). Or maybe because you can’t manage their expectations. Imagine if your star candidate heard three different versions of “next steps” from three different interviewers. Sounds rather confusing, which is usually enough to spook a candidate.
If there’s no streamlined recruitment process, the first thing a candidate is going to immediately assume is that there are no processes within the business and that it’s probably completely disorganised. While this might be far from the truth, that’s going to be the candidate’s perception which in their mind will be the reality of the situation.
3. Set your salary, equity, or benefits below market rate
“Location, location, location” isn’t just for real estate. Where you’re expecting people to work is just as important as what you’re expecting them to do when you’re determining compensation packages. A dead giveaway that your compensation is off-base is when you make plenty of offers but get turned down constantly.
If this is happening to you, consider asking yourself why it’s happening.
- Does our package make sense for our location? Hiring in Seattle looks very different from hiring in Chicago. The Bay Area, the peninsula, the East Bay, and San Francisco proper have very different compensation environments based on their desirability. Don’t just guess at this – figure out how far you are from local expectations. (by talking to colleagues or recruiters in your area).
- Who are our competitors? Not from an industry perspective, but who are we competing with for candidates? If you’re a startup directly competing with Google or Facebook, you’re going to struggle with losing people to compensation you just can’t match (so work on your selling skills!).
- Does our package feel “fair”? If you’re a startup looking for a principal engineer without offering any equity, that engineer is going to feel like the offer is unfair. If you’re offering a below-market package (which startups have to do sometimes!) to a senior-level CMO without any explanation, you should expect her to walk. It’s not that you have to shell out salary or equity all the time for top talent, but you need to put your offer in a context that will feel “fair” to the candidate.
4. Make the job description boring or confusing
Better yet … don’t provide potential candidates with a job description.
I’ve worked with far too many companies who struggle with hiring. That’s typically why they come to us!
One thing they’ve all had in common was that their job descriptions needed major revamping. I’ve even seen a team that was so desperate for good candidates that they created an internal competition to rewrite the job descriptions for the open roles.
If you discover that your current job description for a software engineer is just a mishmash of generic requirements, specific duties, and confusing jargon, then it will be no wonder that nobody is applying.
5. Don’t offer any career path
A good friend of mine recently shared the following story.
When people from other parts of her company would look at the open roles on her team, they’d ask current members of the team about career paths and promotions. You know what our answer was? Crickets chirping.
That’s right – they had never promoted anyone. There was absolutely no career path. Apparently there was simply working 80-100 hour weeks until you burned out. That’s all.
All the fun in the world won’t make up for having a company or a team that won’t help someone’s career. If that team wanted to pull people into it, all it had to do was to promote someone (and there were many someones deserving of promotion) or have a concrete promotion roadmap to show to candidates. But it never did.
Not having a career path hurt that team in other ways as well, because not only could it not hire, but it started bleeding its best talent. It turns out that having a career path both attracts and keeps top talent.
I sincerely hope that you’re not having trouble filling your roles and getting the right butts in the right seats. But if you are, make sure that you’re not falling into one of the 5 traps above. And if you think you’re doing everything right but you still need a hand with finding a great recruiter, just let us know!