How to hire senior talent in Ireland in December 2021

Dec 17, 2021

No disrespect to people in technology or pharmaceuticals but the most complex business to be in is actually the people business and nothing is more complex than recruitment, especially with the talent war and the Great Resignation in 2021.

Add on top of that the obvious complexities that Covid has added and it is a complicated business to attract the right talent to your organisation.

Here are some standout items from a recent ERSI report:

  1. 80% of Irish people want to change their work / life balance compared to before Covid.
  2. 71% of Irish people who are working from home, are happy to do that.
  3. Younger people have suffered more mental health deterioration in 2021 than middle aged or elderly people.
  4. Younger people feel frustrated, bored and restricted and largely lonely.
  5. Christmas indoor party, why not arrange a Xmas walk?

Ireland’s unemployment rate fell to a pandemic low of 7.9 per cent last month, down from 20 per cent in October last year. Now more than ever it’s becoming increasingly harder to find and retain talent. Based on continued feedback from our clients, retaining top talent is becoming a real challenge.  In order to address this, firms are now beginning to revaluate their entire strategy to ensure their top talent see clear career progression.

Here are the steps to recruit correctly.

Agree a plan. As obvious as it sounds many companies do not actually have a written plan on hiring new senior talent. This investment is going to cost perhaps €100-€150,000. If you were buying a new machine for your business you would do a SWOT analysis on the purchase. If you buy the wrong machine as difficult as it is to sell it again, it is easier and can have less of a negative impact on your business than making a senior bad hire. Also the time and cost involved with that person leaving your business. If you have got your plan wrong it is ultimately not fair on the candidate who applied for the job. So the plan of course involves budget, the role itself, the skill set that is needed, and the culture fit.

Think through the plan thoroughly and get sign off from all internal stakeholders from CEO, finance, HR and of course the hiring manager. Everybody needs to be on the same hymn sheet as halfway through the process is not the time to have a rethink.

Timelines. Figure out when ideally you need to have a bum on the seat and work backwards. When you have done this go back and add one third as it will be longer than you think, unfortunately it nearly always takes longer to fill a role.

How. You have four options firstly friends and family. This is a very high risk strategy and when it goes wrong it really can go wrong. Obviously you avoid recruitment fees but inevitably if the person is not right for the role they’re very hard to get back out of the business because of the personal relationships.

In-house. If you have in-house recruitment people it is normally because you have a high volume of junior to mid-level roles. If they have the skill set and talent pools to hire senior people then this is a good option but inevitably there will be outside recruitment companies that will have more good candidates on their books.

Recruitment agencies. Most companies have an idea that handing one role out to multiple agencies increases the chances of a good hire. In my opinion, it is the complete opposite when you have multiple agencies often contacting the same candidates discussing your brand, this is not ideal. As you probably have them on a ‘no foal no fee’ basis, unbeknown to you they will drop you as a client after three or four weeks because by giving them no fee. You are actually forcing them to ‘spray and pray’ CVs at you and move onto the next client. It is a numbers game.

Search firms. As the name implies, these companies specialise in searching for senior talent in the market. Senior tends to mean base salaries of €70,000 and up. In other words they will look at the entire talent pool in a particular industry and country. This means that when you have to make a choice on hiring out of, perhaps, an interview panel of six individuals, that you have been presented with the best available talent that fits your budget and of course wants to work for your company. This, by its very nature, can be time-consuming to the search company and of course involves a fee. This method is largely acknowledged as the most effective way to get a good culture fit and role fit candidate into an organisation.

Whether you go with a recruitment agency or a search firm it is vital that you give them a comprehensive brief of the role and this is not a 20 minute phone call and a job description. This is two or three hours of ideally a site visit and for the recruiter to meet a number of colleagues in your company to learn about your companies objectives and it’s culture. If you brief them well, you will get a good ultimate result.

The final piece of advice is at the very end of the recruitment process when you are about to offer somebody a job. All the technology in the world will not beat what we call the ‘Walk in the Park’ final interview. Psychometric reports will only tell you so much. We often advise our client to meet the preferred candidate in our office on Harcourt Street and for the two of them to go for a walk around St. Stephens Green and ideally not discuss business only. Trust me, sitting on a park bench looking at ducks on the lake or children playing, is a fantastic way to actually get to know the person. Interviews are quite an artificial way to get to know somebody and you need to really understand who you are about to hire.

Bob Hoffman

Executive Search

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Why should you spend money assisting people who are leaving your company?