Just last week, I had a conversation with a potential candidate who seemed a slam dunk for a Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy role we are working on here at Charles Aris.
He said that this is the exact type of position he would want when he leaves consulting. He had the requisite education, the experience, the industry focus – he was even local to our client and would not need to relocate. Though the role appeared to be the perfect fit for him, and he for it, he did not want to move forward in the hiring process.
He cited timing as the reason. As it turned out, the main driver of this timing dilemma was a big bonus that he would receive at the end of the year if he opted to stay with his current organization.
As we enter the year’s fourth quarter, this is something we will hear more and more often because bonus season is around the corner for many of the top consulting firms. Bonuses are often paid in December or January, and you must still be employed by the organization on the payout date to receive the bonus.
This dynamic can create challenges for organizations seeking strategy talent. Consultants who are beginning to think about next steps in their careers often are hesitant to leave a large amount of cash on the table before transitioning. They’ve worked so hard for it, after all.
Thankfully, there are a few potential solutions we’ve seen clients use successfully to combat this:
Provide a cash sign-on bonus to help offset what a candidate is leaving behind. If that isn’t in the budget, consider a sign-on bonus that is broken into multiple parts – for example, a portion paid now with the remainder in six or 12 months.
Provide a sign-on equity package. While it’s not cash in the candidate’s pocket now, some of our clients have found it easier to stomach an equity grant rather than a cash payout.
Delay the start date until the bonus has been paid out, enabling the candidate to collect her bonus before resigning to join your organization.
These are a just a few ideas on how to tackle the challenges associated with bonus season; don’t be afraid to get creative. Bonus season does create additional hurdles, but it shouldn’t be a showstopper when trying to land top talent. When a candidate really wants a role and an organization really wants that candidate, there’s usually a solution that can work for both sides.
Organizations justifiably take many criteria into account when considering an executive search firm. Which are most important?
Various studies have underscored the true cost of a bad hire (this Fast Company infographic is a good place to start). So it’s hardly surprising when any given company’s seemingly simple decision to hire the right talent for mission-critical roles influences and drives that organization’s ensuing success. And in the vast majority of searches conducted by retained search firms, both the quality and leadership of the firm significantly influence the quality of talent the client organization interviews and ultimately has the option to hire.
And yet it’s more complicated than that. While the best search firms have tested and proven recruitment systems and processes in place, the individual search professional who works directly with the client – and the ability of that professional to effectively utilize her firm’s talent identification / selection / attraction systems and processes – will truly determine the success of each search.
So if I had the responsibility of selecting a search firm on behalf of an organization, I would first seek answers to the following questions:
What are the search firm’s recruitment systems and processes?
Will I deal directly with an experienced search professional?
Am I personally comfortable working with this search professional? Am I comfortable with this person’s knowledge and communication style? Is this a person whom I would look forward to speaking with frequently? Does the search professional create legitimacy and demonstrate competence and confidence in her ability to deliver? Can she effectively describe the search firm’s systems and processes?
Does the search firm have a successful track record of working with organizations like mine?
What sets it apart from other search firms? Ultimately, why should I retain this firm when there are so many other options?
Still there? And still interested in hiring a search firm to help? Answers to these additional questions will provide insight and may help mightily in your selection process.
How long does the recruiting firm’s typical search take?
How does the search firm find talent? What does its team actually do?
How many candidates will I need to interview before I can make a hiring decision?
Who will perform the heavy lifting on my search project? Will it be the search professional who secures the search or someone else who is then assigned to the project?
How many similar searches has the search firm completed?
If it hasn’t done many, how will its team find talent in a marketplace where it has limited experience?
At which levels does the search firm normally recruit?
Does the search firm’s team have capacity for this search?
Does the search firm interview candidates face to face? Or via application software? If neither, how does the search firm accurately assess candidates’ skill sets?
What are the search firm’s fees? Where is the value?
How does the search firm find talent in faraway locations?
Does the search firm conduct reference checks? How do the firm’s team members get people to give them a reference when so many companies prohibit such calls?
Still with me? You just might be ready to kick off an executive search. Regardless of your recruiting partner of choice, do not hesitate to ask these sorts of questions to ensure that they are just as ready as you are!
Gain insights into industrial manufacturing and the chemicals space from Charles Aris senior vice president Greg Harper, who recently discussed the state of engineering and operational opportunities with Charles Aris marketing associate Joe Metts:
Joe: Manufacturing job totals in the United States have seen a sharp decline in recent decades, but have actually increased over the past few years. What human capital trends are you seeing in today’s marketplace?
Greg: The biggest thing is probably the advancement of the skill sets required. In recent years, probably from the early 2000s to now, there’s been a lot more automation and a lot more sophistication in manufacturing – all of which requires sophisticated skill sets. Previously, I would say a lot of manufacturing minds could be high-school educated or could otherwise learn their craft and perform well on a manufacturing line, but that’s no longer the case today. You have a lot more automation that takes a mechanical, electrical or industrial engineer to operate some of that sophisticated machinery.
Joe: Indeed.com’s chief economist noted that manufacturing jobs, as a share of total employment, hit an all-time low in July 2017. Why are talented professionals choosing to work in industries outside manufacturing?
Greg: I think one, as a society, we aren’t pushing enough of our children into STEM programs. I don’t think people see the value of it yet. The younger generation going into the marketplace today often wants to work for the Googles, eBays and Amazons of the world instead of in manufacturing environments. People can make a great living in manufacturing industries. A local university, North Carolina State, just reported that the top 10 percent of their engineering graduates are graduating and starting their careers with salaries of $70,000-plus per year. As a society – and as business leaders and education leaders and recruiting leaders – we’re not promoting that enough. We aren’t emphasizing that with high schoolers who are going into college, especially females. I would love to see us steer more females into the engineering field; we’re just not broadcasting that message. It’s industry itself that’s more at fault than anything.
Joe: Automation has transformed many jobs in an increasingly high-tech manufacturing environment, creating a technical skills gap. How has this impacted your searches for top talent?
Greg: Significantly. For one, higher-skilled people require higher compensation. You have to make clients understand that to replace a skill set that’s previously been a job with X wage with one that requires a higher education and expertise, there can be a 15-20 percent delta. You have to educate them from that perspective. The other thing is a huge delta between younger employees getting into engineering and the number exiting. There’s an almost-sufficient number of younger employees but a severe deficiency in senior and middle management. As a result, companies have to go out and pilfer talent from competitors because that’s the only place they can reliably find it.
Joe: Where do you see the firm’s Engineering & Operations recruiting practice moving next?
Greg: I think you’re going to see – and we’re starting to see it already with a few of our clients – the analytics piece that’s been popular on the consumer side with regard to getting and analyzing and acting on real-time data. What do consumers think about products? You’re now seeing the same need for data analytics and assimilation on the manufacturing side because of all the automation. There’s a big gap there, so we’re seeing a lot more cause for people with strong mathematics and analytical skills to come into manufacturing environments for both data assimilation and modeling, which in previous years hasn’t been a need. I think that’s going to be a huge uptick for us as we continue to identify and land the very best talent for our clients here at Charles Aris.
Joe: While continually focused on developing new business, you have a track record for building and sustaining lasting relationships with existing clientele. What’s the key to cultivating such meaningful and effective partnerships with hiring authorities?
Greg: You know, if I knew that, I’d do it better; maybe I’d even write a book about it! I think one is practicing our first, and I think the most important, of our 22 guiding principles: Be open, honest and candid with your clients, especially when it comes to relaying bad news. Most every search, at some point, hits a rough patch along the road, so trying not to gloss over that, recognizing that and talking it through with the client – all while making sure they understand that you have their best interests in mind. Anybody can deliver good news. The most effective search firms, and people who build good relationships in a business environment, are those willing to deliver bad news as well.
Joe: What’s one piece of advice you would give to those hiring authorities who need and seek A-level talent?
Greg: Hold onto it if you’ve already got it! You need a great onboarding program when you do bring someone in who’s an A-level talent. You need to continue to give them feedback; don’t ever have them guessing where they stand in the organization. You also have to do things which continue to promote their skills – especially from a soft skills perspective. Engineers learn the linear aspects and they have technical expertise. What engineers typically don’t learn when they are going through their training are the soft skills: how to coach, how to mentor, how to develop other people and get that knowledge out of their head and into practice. That’s the biggest thing that I see lacking in manufacturing today: We’re not doing enough to teach seasoned engineers how to relate to people better, to coach, mentor and develop that next person in line.
Have a mission-critical hiring need or simply want to learn more? Speak with Greg Harper today by calling 336-378-1818, extension 9123, or email him at [email protected].
“Perfection is not attainable,” legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once said, “but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence.”
In the uncertain world of executive recruiting, perfection is difficult to achieve. Competition runs rampant, with quality firms competing for the opportunity to serve the world’s finest organizations. As a result, Charles Aris team members take pride in their evolution as a process-oriented group of executive search consultants who work tirelessly to deliver results to clients and candidates who entrust them with important pieces of their respective futures.
Executive search requires an acute attention to detail, a willingness to engage in difficult conversations and discipline to see the process through to completion. Not all are cut out to succeed in this environ, so ensuring that our team is ready to effectively serve yours is our primary focus at all times.
From there, we deploy the industry’s most detailed Priority Search Process to place A-level talent in mission-critical roles for client organizations around the world. Our 22 Guiding Principles ensure transparency throughout this process.
Here’s how we do it:
• Principle No. 2: We work hard
While we always strive to “work smart” at Charles Aris Inc., long hours are a given. What makes us different is our sense of urgency. We make it happen and always strive to outwork the competition. Executive search often presents a number of tripwires which can stall the hiring process, but we work tirelessly to generate progress in an effort to fill client’s most important roles as effectively and efficiently as possible, no matter the obstacles.
• Principle No. 4: We never take shortcuts
Our interview-to-hire ratio is rightfully earned, as we implement our 14-Step Priority Search Process in each and every search project. This detailed approach enables us to identify, recruit and land Qualified, Available and Interested (QAI) candidates in a targeted fashion and in a timely manner. Shortcuts result in mistakes, poor quality and longer search cycles. In contrast, our Priority Search Process ensures the efficient delivery of QAI candidates.
• Principle No. 16: We follow up on everything
Communications in the executive recruiting industry can often be lost in translation, with parties losing sight of the personal element in each search. A major differentiator in our process is the fact that we do what we say we are going to do when we say we are going to do it. Charles Aris practice leaders and associate recruiters make it a priority to stay in frequent communication with clients and candidates alike. If a previous understanding cannot be fulfilled, we notify each party in a timely fashion to recalibrate and focus on a new arrangement.
There are no shortcuts within the walls of Charles Aris Inc. – our annual results attest to that. Every search requires the same level of focus and detailed execution to successfully fulfill.
Whether you’re the founder of a start-up or a hiring authority in a Fortune 500 firm, or a candidate interested in making your next career move count, our proven process will generate results for you. Call the Charles Aris team today at (336) 378-1818 to learn more about what we can do for you.