Time to recruit

Don't let tech and banking turmoil impact your executive searches.

By David Kinley, Bluenose

It’s understandable that companies – and hiring managers – are on edge right now. Three US banks have collapsed, the tech industry has already laid off thousands of workers, and Goldman Sachs predicts a 35% chance there will be a recession in the United States within the next year.

David Kinley, Bluenose

The trickle-down effect of these crises means some companies have  paused hiring altogether. At first glance, this appears to make sense: Investors and companies want to hold off on big decisions when they’re uncertain about what’s coming next. When a bank fails, they not only lose trust in the information they thought they had, they also don’t know what else will be coming down the pike in the next six months.

It appears counterintuitive, but this is when you should ramp up your hiring of top talent. When there’s a gut punch to the industry, other organizations get defensive. The best time to recruit is during a downturn, a time of uncertainty, even a recession. That’s when I’ve hired some of my top people. During these turbulent times, when large portions of the market are pausing, you should snap up the crème de la crème in your industry. Here’s why.

Bronze arches

For one, it’s challenging to find the strongest candidates during stable times. Strong, sought-after professionals are secure, and generally paid well for their services. It’s their market. It’s certainly easier to attract them when they’re nervous about being laid off as they see most industries, including tech, retail, media, even automakers, shed jobs at every level of the organization. McDonald’s temporarily closed US offices in early April as it prepared to lay off some corporate employees.

Even so, some executives are nervous about leaving a current job, however uncertain, for something brand new. This is where you should be playing the long game.

The key in luring them comes from offering them a better deal — one that may finally make them be willing to listen to an offer.

I can hear your board and executive team protesting already. Offer more? Now? Think creatively: You and your teams can restructure compensation packages in ways that allow candidates to feel as if they’re not taking enormous risks by walking away from their current positions. For example, if a vice president of engineering is making a $210,000 base salary with a $90,000 bonus, a company seeking to hire him or her could offer a $250,000 base salary and $50,000 in bonuses. It might just be enough to sway a candidate, knowing they are now receiving an additional $40,000 in disposable income.

Self-fulfilling prophecy 

Of course, many might still argue that this is the worst time to onboard new, possibly costly, executives. This mindset can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You still have to navigate these turbulent times, but you’re stuck with current talent that isn’t a great fit for what the position needs. Alternatively, you don’t have anyone in the role at all, putting you at a disadvantage when the business trajectory becomes clearer.

While it may appear to be a risky gambit, it’s during the worst of times that companies have the greatest opportunity to hire the best of talent.

David Kinley is the CEO of Bluenose & Company, a leadership services firm in Toronto, and host of the RIDDICK podcast.