Recruiting activity has hit the reset button. Gone are the days of hopping on a plane for a job interview, as both distributors, recruiters and would-be employees have come to trust virtual job interviews, according to John Salvadore, managing partner, Global Recruiters Network-Coastal (GRN Coastal). He will highlight how recruiting methods have changed during MDM’s Future of Distribution Summit event on April 13. Salvadore will address key trends within the recruitment landscape across three main areas: culture, career and recruiting. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the topics.
Last year, HR departments and company executives became laser focused on keeping employees safe as they transitioned to working from home, which led to a void in job recruiting.
“Now, more than ever, companies really have to focus on building their brand and their culture, because the leadership is on full display,” Salvadore says. “Candidates really are concerned about how the company and its leadership communicated during the pandemic. How they really treated their employees. “I get so many questions now that are very similar from candidates, whether I’m talking about a C-level position, or even inside sales positions. Everybody wants to know how the employees have been treated, and I think that’s a big deal.”
Thanks to the pandemic, the recruiting paradigm has shifted and one of the biggest shifts is now job candidates are taking a harder look at their would-be employers, according to Salvadore.
“The candidates are actually interviewing the companies as much as the companies are interviewing the candidates,” he says. “What we see is top company leadership is now playing a bigger role when it comes to closing top talent. Quite honestly, if they’re not doing it, they’re probably looking for a job themselves. I’ve seen the best companies with the best leadership that have really embraced this challenge. It isn’t just about the company’s culture anymore. The candidates really want a balance between work, personal and family life.”
Most job candidates also have a full year of remote work under their belts, and many could be reluctant to return to office buildings. Mandating employees to work in office spaces drastically cuts down on the employee talent pool, according to Salvadore. Taking a flexible approach is much more attractive, he says.
While the bandwidth of company executives has been stretched thin during the pandemic, Salvadore says it was important that they put their best foot forward when interviewing job candidates. Job candidates want to be assured that there’s a career path going forward for them when they interview for jobs, as well as good starting salaries and solid benefits. “The interview team has to be ready to defend that company’s culture,” Salvadore says. “What they’ve done this past year protecting employees and employees’ families. What they’ve done from the perspective of being flexible and showing some compassion to employees.”
While distributors may think there’s a deep pool of talent seeking new jobs, that may not be the case, according to Salvadore. Employees who are still looking for jobs eight months or a year later after the pandemic hit may still be unemployed for a reason. “In the past, I would present four or five candidates and companies would make a decision and the deal was done,” Salvadore says. “Now, they want to see six, seven or even eight candidates because they think there’s just a glut of talent out there, but there really isn’t. A lot of the people that have been laid off for months still can’t find a new job, and there might be an underlying reason behind that. The people that are still employed — the truly top talent in the marketplace — are getting calls from everybody. Everybody knows who they are, and they have choices.”
With a smaller, pickier pool of job candidates, Salvadore says distributors needed to move fast to close out the hiring process. Candidates are no longer willing to wait four or five weeks to land a job. For the most part, distributors already know who the top talent is in their various sectors, and if they don’t move quickly to hire them someone else will. “Timing does kill all deals,” Salvadore says. “If a client is dragging their feet, if they can’t get themselves organized, they’re going to lose out on the top people.”
First step: Hire from within
Distributors with job openings would do well to look from within their own employee ranks first. Salvadore says the first question he asks his clients who are looking to hire him to help with their recruiting efforts is whether or not they have already looked internally for job candidates. Recruiting companies don’t want to spend several weeks searching for job candidates only to have their clients come back and say they’ve hired someone internally.
More importantly, Salvadore says promoting employees internally helps foster loyalty and retention. “It’s a good feeling among all of the people in the company when they see someone get promoted from within,” he says. “Especially for high-visibility jobs; that’s really important. The other thing is, companies have to be looking at their internal employees and seeing if they can add different skillsets to the high performers that makes them qualified for promotions, maybe in a different aspect of the company.”
Death of the outside salesperson?
During April’s Summit, Salvadore says he will also talk about how the pandemic has impacted the role of the outside salesperson. Instead of contacting an outside salesperson who is juggling multiple accounts, customers now want to make direct contact with someone when they have technical problems. With last year’s shelter-in-place policies and quarantines, the outside salesperson was, in some cases, locked out of his or her own facilities. “The role of the outside salesperson has really diminished in the eyes of the customer,” Salvadore says. “Relationships are important, but the customer is looking more toward their inside salesperson and the technical support people much more because those folks are there. The value of an outside salesperson has kind of fallen off in importance.”
Salvadore has also seen a growing trend where previously high-rolling salespeople who took a bath on their commissions last year are now more open to premium-only plans that give them more guaranteed money with fewer commissions. “I also see more people looking for bigger sign-on bonuses,” he says. “The big trend is people are really digging in on a very granular level on the benefit packages and associated costs. People are very concerned about their career paths and upward mobility, especially now that so many companies have restructured.They want to see a vision of what their career path will be if they take the job. Not to put the cart before the horse, but they want to be able to project within their own mind where they’re going to be three or five years from now, if they make the move.”
As part of defining their career paths, job candidates are looking for coaching in their new positions, whether they’re senior-level positions or mid-level jobs. As part of the candidates interviewing distributors in regard to job openings, applicants want to know who their bosses will be if they do decide to take the jobs. “Can they learn from this person? I see a real thirst for continued learning and training,” Salvadore says. “People want to get better, and they want to become more valuable for the longer term with their companies. From that standpoint, the person on the other side of the table, again, is being interviewed as much as the candidate.”
Now, more than ever, he advises distributors to focus on building their brands and cultures because leadership is on full display when it comes to recruiting new employees. “A lot of the key executives are a little bit worn out right now because it’s been difficult,” Salvadore says. “Instead of management walking around and seeing people personally, they have had to adapt to the changes of virtual meetings. A lot of these folks have virtual meeting burnout, but their stamina in the battle is really very important right now. Candidates are looking at the person who’s interviewing them, and they’re judging that person. Leadership has to rise above. They have to show that poise and confidence under pressure, especially when they’re sitting across the table from a candidate. The ones who do, they win the battle on talent.”
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