Face It: Top Candidates Are in a Position of Power . . . Now What?

If you’ve been trying to hire top talent in this current marketplace for any length of time, you should have already come to an unmistakable conclusion.

That conclusion is this: top candidates are in a position of power.

The reason for this is quite simple. Top candidates have options. In some cases, they have a lot of options. And when you have a lot of options, you hold a lot of the power. Let me put it another way.

Let’s say you have an open position that you want to fill. You whittle your short list of candidates down to five. However, there are two that you really want to hire. The problem is that those two candidates are not interviewing only with your company. They’re interviewing with three organizations . . . apiece.

So your top two candidates have a total of six options combined. You, on the other hand, have just two options. (Two options you really want, that, is.) You could include the other three candidates to give you a total of five, but it would still be less than the six options that your top two candidates have.

So you make an offer to your top candidate. Sadly, they received an offer from one of the other companies with which they were interviewing at the same time. They ultimately accept the other offer and not yours.

So you make an offer to your #2 candidate. Sadly yet again, they’ve already accepted an offer from another company and are no longer in the market.

You’re back to square-one with zero options (other than your #3 choice). Your top two candidates, on the other hand, had the flexibility to choose between multiple offers. In the final analysis, who held the power in that situation?

What drives and motivates top talent?

The Execu | Search Group recently released its “Hiring Outlook: Strategies for Engaging With Today’s Talent and Improving the Candidate Experience” report.

This report provides plenty of insights into how top candidates think when they’re deciding which opportunities to pursue and when to pursue them. The findings for the report were taken from a survey of more than 1,000 job seekers, working professionals, and hiring decision makers across a number of industries.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to run down some of the more pertinent findings of the report:

  • Fifty percent (50%) of employees plan to stay at their current company for only two years or less.
  • The top four reasons employees are leaving companies include lack of advancement opportunities, 2. lack of salary growth, 3. negative work-life balance, and 4. poor corporate culture.
  • Forty-eight percent (48%) of respondents indicated that they do not believe younger employees are encouraged to pursue leadership positions at their current companies.
  • Forty-two percent (42%) of respondents feel that the executive leadership of their employer does not contribute to a positive company culture.
  • Seventy-six percent (76%) of Millennial respondents indicated that professional development opportunities are one of the most important elements of company culture,

Right off the bat, when 50% of employees plan to stay at their current company for two years or less, that tells you all you need to know. There are options aplenty for candidates in today’s marketplace, especially for the best candidates. And where there are more options and more flexibility, there is more power. Face it: top candidates are in a position of power.

The only question is this: what are you going to do about it?

“Attract” and “engage” instead of “acquire”

For the longest time, “talent acquisition” was the buzzword in the employment marketplace. Organizations “acquired” talent. That approach and that mindset doesn’t quite cut it in this current market.

You’re not “acquiring” talent in the same way that you pick a piece of fruit off a tree. Top candidates do NOT grow on trees.

To hire top talent in today’s marketplace, you must attract that talent. Actually, if you want to start at the very beginning, the first step is to identify that talent. After all, how can you attempt to attract a group of people if you don’t even know who those people are? This is precisely why job ads are ineffective in helping organizations hire top talent. Top, passive candidates are not looking at job ads. Therefore, they will not apply from a job ad and will not enter an organization’s hiring process because of one.

If top candidates are in a position of power because of the options that are available to them, then it only makes sense that organizations must attract them. And not only that, but organizations must also attract them with what is important to them. According to the findings of the Execu | Search Group report, these things include the following:

  • Opportunities for professional skills development
  • Opportunities for advancement through the organization
  • Greater compensation and/or benefits
  • Better work-life balance and schedule flexibility
  • Access to leadership and/or management opportunities

If you’re not emphasizing the things in the above list to attract top candidates, then you are NOT going to attract them, plain and simple. However, it doesn’t stop with attracting. You also have to engage them if you hope to ultimately hire them.

This process of engagement absolutely starts during the hiring process and it definitely includes the interviewing stage of the process. Check out these findings from the report:

  • Thirty-four percent (34%) of respondents indicated that their interviewer could not convey the overall impact that their role would have on the company’s goals.
  • Forty-five percent (45%) of respondents did not feel as though their interviewer made the effort to give them an introduction to the culture when they were interviewing.

In the world of hiring and employment, those are failing grades. I’ve written before that there is no margin for error when you’re hiring in a candidates’ market, and that’s because top candidates are in a position of power. To hire the top candidates, you can’t pretend that they’re not in a position of power. That makes no sense.

No, to hire the best candidates, you must do the following three things:

  1. Identify who they are.
  2. Attract them with what they want.
  3. Engage them in a way that will keep them interested in your opportunity and your organization.

If your organization is not willing to do these three things, then there’s a good chance that one (or more) of your competitors is willing to step in and take your place.

We help support careers in one of two ways: 1. By helping to find the right opportunity when the time is right, and 2. By helping to recruit top talent for the critical needs of organizations. If this is something you would like to explore further, please send an email to stacy@thevetrecruiter.com.