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Whitham Group Executive Search


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Why companies are having a hard time finding the right hires in this labor market.

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Whitham Group Executive Search

  1. 1. Why are companies having a hard time filling open positions, even though there are plenty of job seekers? <br />The shift in the labor market has changed due to the baby boomers retiring; the majority of the work force consists of the Gen X’ers. Gen Y is coming into the labor market with an entire different view of what they want from a job. Gen Y values more of a work/life balance and do not see working over 40 hours very appealing. They are a very creative generation full of entrepreneurial spirit. In addition, in each new generation there is a significant difference in communication, vision, productivity and experiences. How one motivates and manages these multiple generations is the key to success in attracting and retaining employees in this market. <br />Taking into account the generational differences and creating a hiring strategy to effectively understand how these generations will work together in harmony and manage each group will give businesses a leading edge in their hiring practices. <br />What are your tips for filling these positions faster, with the right candidates?<br />People are the heart of any organization and its most important asset. When initiating a search for mid to upper executive positions, it is vital that the HR team understands how to appeal to the masses by writing different job descriptions for different generations. Taking for instance the Gen Y’ers, they are a techie generation and using Twitter or Facebook to advertise an open position is a great avenue, whereas recruiting the Gen X’ers, direct contact is the most effective method. If I were a matchmaker outside of the labor market, I would not match a Gen Y with a baby boomer and expect a long lasting relationship. It is the same with recruiting. All generations working together will have relationships in the workplace and it is necessary for HR managers to understand those dynamics. Integrating the differences into a congruent vision for their organization is the winning recipe for success and employee retention. This goes for interviewing strategies for the different generations as well for there are varying communication methods that may appeal to one generation, and not to the other. It is like learning three new languages and new cultures where each one is completely different from the other. <br /> <br />Is now a time for recruiters and staffing agencies to shine; why or why not? <br />There has never been a time where using a search firm is more vital for organizational success. What firm you choose will play a pivotal role in your company’s productivity, performance, and revenue. If a company uses the wrong firm it could be detrimental to the search. My suggestion is to shop around before deciding on a search firm. Approach several search firms in your arena, and ask them immediately what companies they would target for your search. Most recruiters you speak to would not be able to answer that question. For instance, if I had a company such as Sunpower, a billion dollar solar company approach my firm for a possible partnership for a search, I immediately know what competitive companies I would source and target for their search, I know their technology and even many of their current employees for I am highly networked in one segment of the market. <br />Another huge mistake I see companies make is that they do not ask a search firm if they have any “off limit” companies. If Whitham Group has GE for a client and am running searches for them, I cannot source candidates from their company for one to two years. So if you are from Schneider Electric and you call me and tell me you want me to pull someone from GE, I cannot do that for they are my client. The top five recruiting firms like Heidrick and Struggles or Korn Ferry have thousands of clients and are extremely limited with all of their search constraints due to conflict of interest. I have seen many search firms violate this agreement, so make sure when reviewing the search firms contract, the stipulation is in place. <br />Another tactic to finding the right search firm for your company is to find a firm that resides specifically in your niche. I recruit exclusively in renewable energy and do not take searches in any other genre. Concentrating on one segment of the market allows Whitham Group to have the expertise in the products and services within this sector and not be spread too thin in numerous industries. <br />I personally took on a search for a Smart Grid Leader from a Fortune 500 company who had used one of the top 5 recruiting firms and the big boys were not successful in the search. The company who used the larger firms lost valuable time and money and had to start the search all over again. I was able to view the candidates and companies of the top 5 firm attempted to use for their search, and they missed the mark by a long shot mainly because that is not their specialty, but it is mine. I filled that search in less than two weeks and had one happy client.. <br />Another aspect is the technical side of your organization. When looking for a search firm, make sure they have the technical know how to run your search. Renewable energy has a significant technical side. I recruit for candidates in wind, solar, biofuels, gasification, and waste management from engineers to Chief Operating Officers. The technology is constantly changing and improving in every sector of business. Whitham Group has a technical advisor on staff that can target the new technologies in this industry and the key innovators who are paving a path in renewable energy. This allows my client’s access to the top players in the market and keeps my staff educated as well. <br />Is there anything else you'd like to add?<br />The cost of using an executive search firm or headhunting firm may create sticker shock that initially may scare organizations that are not familiar with using a headhunter. The industry standard fee for search firms is 33% of the candidate’s full compensation plus expenses due in three installments. For a position that pays $200,000 per year your company is looking at paying a $40,000 retainer plus expenses for the search. Using the right search firm means a significant return on your investment. For example, I placed a Director of Business Development in a billion dollar Energy Company. The fee for this search cost my client a retainer of $75,000. The candidate I placed in my client’s organization brought in $100 million in business contracts his first 6 months in his new position. My clients see the big picture, and understand you get what you pay for. If you want the best talent, you use the best people to find them for you. <br />Creating a strategic alliance with a search firm can change the face of your organization and allows that organization to maintain a competitive edge in this ever increasingly competitive environment. <br />Huge Shift in the Labor Market <br />How to Utilize it to your Organizations Advantage<br />