What to Expect when you Recruit in a Recovering Market

Blog - Andrew Daley on recruitment and career development

Covid 19 is throwing the global economy into a deep recession. That much is obvious. What is less clear is when the recovery starts and how long it will take.

From an individual business perspective the beginning of your revenue recovery will depend on what industry you are a part of, or supply to, but reading between the lines many economic forecasters are expecting the worst for the remainder of 2020 with an equally sharp recovery starting in 2021.

So if your business starts to see green shoots towards the end of this year or early next, what can you expect when you look to strengthen your team? Will recruitment be easy or hard given the wider economic circumstances?

The answer is a bit of both.

Hiring people in what was, pre-Covid, a specialist, candidate short market may become easier because most industries will see some redundancies.

Furlough schemes in Europe are expected to taper off during Q3 leaving employers to pick up at least a portion of their furloughed employees wages or start making redundancies. It feels inevitable that a number of skilled, experienced workers will be forced into the job market.

Naturally, they become active job seekers, sending their CV directly to advertised positions and registering with sector specific recruitment agents. In short, the availability of previously hard to find skill sets and specific sector experience improves considerably.

In addition, the candidate’s negotiation position on salary is a lot weaker. Whilst gainfully employed pre-crisis they would only move for a decent increment in remuneration. Now, they are more than likely to be happy with parity with their last salary, making them cheaper on your payroll.

In summary, finding candidates is easier and they cost less to hire.

However, and this is the uncomfortable bit, companies often use a period of cost cutting to jettison their weakest performers. Sure, it’s the position that gets made redundant not the individual but, off the record, many senior decision makers ensure their best people get retained whilst below average head for the exit.

This begs the question: Are the newly available and relatively inexpensive candidates really the people you want to hire?

Naturally, there will be some high performers who are merely a victim of circumstance and they are the hidden gems if you are hiring, but buyer beware of every CV that ends up in your inbox. And prepare yourself, if past recessions are anything to go by, there will be an awful lot of applicants with very little relevant experience swamping your inbox or overwhelming your recruitment team.

So let’s say you pick up a couple of excellent new employees from the huge flux in the employment market but you still have positions to fill. You decide to contact directly, or via a recruiter, potential candidates working in your competitors.

This is where you can expect it to be even tougher than pre-Covid hiring. Why?

From personal experience of approaching hundreds of candidates, I know you will get a much higher incidence of one of these two reactions.

“My current company has been loyal to me through a very difficult period, I feel I owe them that loyalty back”

or…

“The economy still looks uncertain at the moment and I don’t want to take the risk of moving jobs”

No matter how attractive your company, job or salary is, these are very difficult objections to overcome.

So how do you react? The best way to deal with this is three-fold.

Firstly, ensure whoever is doing your recruiting (internally or third party) is a fantastic ambassador for your company and can brilliantly convey your job proposition to a prospective candidate thus maximising the chances of them getting interested and wanting to take it further.

Secondly, make sure the list of candidate targets is long enough to give you a strong chance of finding those who are willing to take the risk of a job move. Yes, it’s a numbers game and a real test of thoroughness.

Finally, start pipelining candidates before you are ready to hire. In other words, reach out to candidates who look like they could be a fit for your organisation and start a dialogue. Be transparent about when you are hoping to hire and view this as investing in a relationship via regular, meaningful contact.

In an economy as volatile as this, individuals’ circumstances and attitude towards a job move can change very quickly in your favour. If you have established contact and credibility with them you are already ahead of your competitors in your pursuit of the best possible talent.

Simon Edbury

simon@edburydaley.com

Is recruitment about to get harder?

 

We offer some valuable insights into how recruitment actually works in a market like the one we are about to experience as the global economy gets back on its feet.

We are all hearing about how the Covid pandemic is changing the world as we know it and it’s pretty clear that it’s going to affect employment markets, hiring trends, and potentially recruitment activity but do you actually understand what this means for the mechanics of the job market?  If you don’t then how will you understand the changes and take advantage of them for your organisation? For many, making the assumption that you will automatically have lots of good candidates applying for your vacancies who will be willing to accept reduced salaries is a misconception.  It’s also a dangerously floored strategy.

Now for many years recruitment in these markets has been what we recruiters call “candidate-driven”. i.e. there is a shortage of specialist skills so those that offer them are often in high demand when they come to the market, and this puts proven candidates in a strong position when it comes to selecting who they work for. It also strengthens their hand when negotiating salary.

Recruiters like us spend a lot of time nurturing our relationships with these people so they decide to consider moving roles we are the first to know and can give our clients the first opportunity to hire them – this is a fundamental benefit of our Talent Intelligence offering.   Specialist recruiters also spend a lot of time actively headhunting these people for open roles in our clients in order to find talent to fuel their headcount growth.

A good example of this is software sales and presales people who truly understand the value proposition of procurement solutions to the client community.  This has come about because the market has grown quicker than the talent pool can keep pace with and is one reason why such people command very high basic salaries – the simple demand/supply equation.

One major impact of Covid is that many organizations are reducing headcount or at least taking their foot off the growth pedal which reduces demand.  So it’s quite likely that we could move to a “client-driven” market.   This appears to be great news if you are a hiring manager from a growing software company, but is it all good news?

If you look at why people are coming into the job market in the current climate, they fit into three main categories:

Made redundant – employers have had to cut costs drastically to survive and have to lose people quickly.  These people have largely been unfortunate and will include both top and underperformers as well as those in between. The trick is knowing which of those categories they fall into – it’s our job to know this and/or find out for our clients.

Fearful of employers long term stability – the financial implications of Covid are massive with many companies seeing a drastic reduction in sales in recent months.  The impact of this is clear, especially to those close enough to the leadership team to have an insight into decision making.  There are some excellent people who have been retained by their employers because they are such strong performers that are keeping a close eye on the job market in case there is a better option available to them.  People who fall into this category often reach out to recruiters like us to let us know they are potentially in the job market.  We’ve probably tried to headhunt them for roles in the past or helped them move jobs at some stage.  This is where our specialist market expertise enables us to be talent magnets and get access to people that others can’t.

Unhappy with decisions made at the top of the organisation in the current crisis – business leaders have had to make some tough decisions recently.  Often these decisions are questioned by people in the organisation.  Time will tell who calls it right and wrong but frustration with those above you in the management structure has always been a key driver in people wanting to move jobs.  The net result is the same as above – they come to people like us that they know and trust to keep an eye on the market for them.

So what does all this mean to you as a hiring manager?

Do you use valuable time and resources to sort through the huge numbers of job applicants to try to find the right hires and hope you get it right?  The benefits are that you will make use of your internal recruitment/talent attraction/HR team and save on recruitment fees in the process.

However, it’s likely that you will miss out on that specialist market insight and background information that will help you hire the top performers I refer to above.

So do you engage a specialist to guide you through it and increase your chances of  success because:

We save you time and resources and therefore money.

We put proven high-quality performers in front of you quickly.

We don’t waste your time with unsuitable candidates who may be unqualified, lacking relevant experience or have patchy track records of performance.

If you want to read a brief summary of how we are able to do exactly this for our clients, you can read about our Talent Intelligence approach here.

If you want to discuss how we can help you with these particular challenges please contact me via andrew@edburydaley.com or +44 7711 715258.

Andrew Daley

Director – Procurement & Supply Chain Technology

Talent Intelligence – The Future of Procurement Technology Recruitment

In a fast paced market like procurement technology, service providers like us can’t operate in isolation. Whilst our deep market knowledge has enabled us to see the patterns and market trends as they emerge, we need to stay close to our clients to understand their challenges and adapt our services to meet their needs, now and in the future.

So our recent client audit was undertaken in order to understand what our clients truly value in our services. We wanted to know what the expectations were from the digital procurement community and how those expectations are likely to evolve in the future.

It’s been a fascinating, rewarding process giving us vital information.

We’ve used that information to help refine and improve our service delivery and define the value we add to help potential customers understand what we offer.

This is the result:

Imagine the benefits of partnering with a recruiter that has deep sector knowledge. One that maps the market and knows it intimately, often identifying a company’s recruitment requirements before they are even aware of their own needs. One that boasts a strong network of contacts and pre-qualified candidates.

A recruiter loved by its candidates because it invests time to get to know them, offering regular advice and giving feedback, leading to a more streamlined and professional recruitment process for all involved.

An agency that doesn’t simply tick all of today’s ‘must have’ boxes but, with an eye on tomorrow…

One that has the vision to recognise that, as technology advances, it must anticipate change – in order to help turn visions and innovations into reality – by providing its clients with the right talent in a manner that enables great hiring decisions.

But who presents themselves as that recruitment agency for today and tomorrow? A company that’s passionate about finding the talent that will shape the future of procurement by utilising technology, making it innovative and exciting? A true specialist that invests considerable resources and doesn’t work anywhere else apart from in the procurement technology sector.

One that connects great talent with career development opportunities that result in successful long term appointments, business success and fulfilled employees.

Combining all of our skills and sector knowledge gives us a unique asset and point of difference. It’s the added value that’s a game changer for our clients and what they value the most. We call this Talent Intelligence and if you work with us, it will positively transform how you source your talent, now and in the future.

That’s our commitment to you, that’s what makes us the solution for companies operating across the digital procurement ecosystem – solutions vendors, their consultancy partners and the end users – the cream of the procurement profession.

And the benefits of using Edbury Daley don’t end there. Keeping a close eye on tomorrow, we promise that no matter how quickly procurement technology evolves, we’ll always be there, evolving alongside the market to put the right talent within your reach.

The problems we solve – Problematic business critical roles and how we fill them

The Procurement Technology market has specific characteristics that make hiring for certain skill sets particularly challenging.

If your current recruitment model is failing, It’s likely that it’s because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • Advertising hasn’t identified the right candidates
  • Your in-house or outsourced recruitment team doesn’t know where to look for the right people
  • Your recruitment partner doesn’t have a strong enough network or market knowledge to identify the right candidates
  • The people you want are in high demand generally and could be too expensive for your salary bands
  • The career opportunity you are offering has not been presented to the market effectively in order to get the interest of relevant candidates
  • Your selection process is floored.

A key part of our service is our unrivalled market knowledge and international network of sector specialists and using our Talent Intelligence model we’ll give you access to people that aren’t currently available to you through your existing methods.

The problems we solve – Gain a competitive advantage by hiring from your competitors

The procurement technology market is hugely competitive. Procurement leaders are spoilt for choice when it comes to a range of full suite S2P platforms or the various best of breed solutions. As a solution vendor, how you go to market to achieve a sale and what you deliver to your customer thereafter is, of course, critical to the future of your business.  Do you have the right people in prospect and client facing roles?

Imagine working with a partner who has mapped the entire European market of solution vendors, their partners and customers. One that knows who has the best people, which senior managers are looking to move, what the market is paying for any given skill set and who is receptive to approaches from head hunters like us.

It’s this sort of knowledge that fuels our Talent Intelligence offering and enables our customers to make key hires from their competitors. People who understand the market, the solutions, the customers and the challenges they want to overcome. The sort of people that will make a big impact on your business quickly.

This quote from a long-standing client in ours recent client audit summarises this well: The network or relationships within the space you have and the quality of candidates that are actually pre-qualified and have a demonstrated interest in moving for the right opportunity saved a tremendous amount of time and resources that we don’t have available internally.

The problems we solve – Procurement technology hiring – today and tomorrow

Are you a senior manager in a solution vendor or consultancy partner with big growth ambitions? Maybe you are a CPO who wants to accelerate your digital transformation?

Either way, you will have a plan to achieve your objectives, right?

Part of that plan will require key people to step up and deliver on the goals you agree with them. Some of them maybe in your team already but what about the ones you haven’t hired yet?  

How detailed, how realistic, how achievable are your hiring plans? Do you know what the market is paying for those skills and what the availability is of the people you want? Do you know how and where you will find them? Have you thought about why they might leave their current job to work for you and your organisation?

Our experience is that the answers to these questions are usually inadequate when subjected to real scrutiny. Companies enter the recruitment market with insufficient or inaccurate information and unrealistic expectations and then wonder why it’s so hard to find the right people.  

The role is then open for longer than expected and this impacts on organisational or departmental performance, expectations aren’t met and targets become more difficult to achieve. Does any of this sound familiar?

Want we see from many organisations with their hiring process reminds us of the old phrase “fail to prepare, prepare to fail!” So why don’t companies engage in research in this area like they do in others? You wouldn’t go into a brand new market without researching it would you? You wouldn’t stand up in front of your leadership team and present brave ambitions without having done your homework beforehand would you? 

So why enter the recruitment market to make key hires without any forward planning?

Our clients using our full service offering make consistently more successful appointments, with shorter hiring timescales than average because they enter the market equipped with up-to-date, sector-specific market intelligence.  

Sometimes this requires just a meeting or phone call to scope out a planned business critical hire. On other occasions, a full research project is needed to support a wider hiring plan. But planning makes all the difference and massively improves the probability of success.

If you want to tap into our expertise, please get in touch.

We see things before our clients do – some evidence.

When you have an intimate knowledge of many of the key players in a specific market, you’ve met their people, you’ve helped them hire for key roles and you’ve headhunted people on their behalf from their competitors, it gives you a unique insight into those companies, their people and their place in the wider market.  

Here are some examples of how we’ve used that information to help customers solve problems they were still in the process of identifying.

“Our sales team isn’t up to it”

The new Sales Director of a software firm I know well told me: “I’m not sure about the quality of the sales team I’ve inherited.” I replied: “I am, they aren’t up to your standards.”  He asked why and here’s what I told him:

“I have tried to headhunt some of them in the past and wasn’t impressed at all. They haven’t hit their target in the last two years – that’s why your predecessor got sacked. Morale is low, they all want to move on and if they were top performers they could command much higher salaries in this market. I do have some good news for you though.”

“Oh yes, what’s that?”

“I’ve known we were going to have this conversation since the day you told me you were joining the business and I’ve got some better people in mind for you once you are able to start hiring.”

So now we are working on bringing some of those people in to change the dynamic of the team. He’s working on developing the best of the people he’s inherited and has made some changes elsewhere.

Our insight gave him a head start.

“We need to focus on our customers”

We could talk about several organisations that aren’t investing enough in customer success. They work very hard to win those customers through competitive sales processes then risk losing them with poor implementation and adoption thereafter. Sound familiar?

We will focus on one solution vendor that we know well. I was aware of their specific problems and it was my view that they needed to hire the very best the market could offer to address the various issues their customers were facing.

When they came to me with a requirement to hire into their team I told them very plainly: “you aren’t paying enough for the people you need.” I gave them examples of the people they could afford and I presented two much stronger, more costly candidates that I thought they needed.

There was lots of discussions about budgets, talk of internal barriers and other challenges, all of which I completely understood. Eventually the hiring manager followed my advice to at least meet with the more experienced, stronger candidates to make the comparison. He hired the most expensive one.  

When he called me to thank me for risking my relationship with his HR team by consistently telling them what they didn’t want to hear he said: “In the end, the additional cost on salary is a drop in the ocean compared to what this person will save us in lost revenue by keeping our customers. Thank you for your insight and putting him in front of us.”

“Our digital transformation is floundering”

A CPO told me that her adoption of a full-suite solution wasn’t going to plan. I said: “I’ve heard as much, that’s why I got in touch with you.” She asked how and I told her: “From people involved with competitor vendors and consultancies.”

One of the things you learn when operating in a niche market is that it’s a very small world and people talk, often to ex-colleagues in competitors. So word spreads fast!

She asked me what other CPOs are doing in similar situations. Of course every organisation and every transformation program is different, but I explained that what I was starting to see more of in the market is the hiring of a specialist in this area, someone who has been on this journey in their career before, someone who understand the challenges, the opportunities and the bumps in the road and who can guide you through it all. 

We talked about the availability of such skills, the cost, the interim and full time options available. She’s now building a business case to gain internal budgetary approval to make that hire. I hope she gets it because the people I have in mind for her could make a big difference to the success of this project.

 

Why Attending Procurement Events Makes A Big Difference To Our Clients

Have you been to any of the following events in the last couple of years?

  • SAP Ariba Live
  • Ivalua Now
  • Coupa Inspire
  • eWorld
  • Amazon Business Exchange
  • The World Procurement Congress
  • Other events from vendors like Jaggaer, Proactis, Wax Digital and the rest
  • Any other Procurement Leaders or ProcureCon events

We go to almost all of them and here’s why.

The presentations educate us about the subject matter, particularly around digital transformation and this helps us understand our clients, their businesses, their objectives and challenges.

We know the relative strengths and weaknesses of many of the solutions on the market. We know the innovations they have in the pipeline and we know what their existing customers are saying about the solutions.

We observe how the various software vendors are presenting their solutions to potential customers. We engage with their salespeople, get valuable information on market trends and assess the calibre of all the people we meet in the process. We are effectively talent spotting.

Overall it’s a great chance to network across the procurement technology ecosystem. The sponsors and exhibitors are solution vendors and their partners. The delegates are procurement, supply chain and finance professionals. We can work with any of these people now and in the future. 

People from across the sector ask us: “What’s the market like?” They respect our opinions and value our insight.

Our presence there gets noticed by all these people across the various communities. They recognise our commitment to the sector and when they meet us they quickly realise we are credible business people who understand their world. 

So what benefit could that have for you as a client of Edbury Daley?

The people in the market become familiar with us and the direct result of this is that they come to us first when they are thinking about moving jobs. In other cases they are more receptive to head hunting approaches from us than other recruiters because they know that we are credible. 

This gives us access to the best talent in the market. In many cases these people only talk to us about their careers. In effect, we become a Talent Magnet for those companies that we hire on behalf of and that helps us fill vacancies that others can’t.

Because we’ve been attending these events for years, people know we were the first to make a visible commitment to this specific market. They know we’ve been around for a long time and can be confident we’ll be here today and tomorrow.

Trust, credibility, integrity, deep market knowledge and strong relationships across the sector – why wouldn’t you want to take advantage of this when furthering your career or hiring to achieve your business objectives?

Client Audit – what our clients want from a specialist recruiter

At Edbury Daley we take enormous pride in what we do. We are truly invested in the success of the businesses we recruit for and the job satisfaction and career development of the people we help them hire.

Our personal and company reputations, along with our commitment to winning repeat business through service excellence, are all vital factors in the culture of our organisation.

With this in mind, we regularly review what our clients think about the service we offer to them, what’s important to them and what we could do better. We want to understand the problems we solve for them, the outcomes our clients are buying and how our services might be adapted to ensure continued success.

In our recent client audit, we received some vital feedback that will help you understand what our customers value about us. While there are some examples of the feedback below, what became clear to us during this audit is that the things our clients really value about Edbury Daley are:

  • The depth of market knowledge we have and how our visible commitment to the procurement technology world enables us to act as a Talent Magnet for our customers.
  • The breadth of our international network allied to our strong personal reputations.
  • An intimate understanding of the supply and demand equation for the skills and experience required for success in this market.
  • This enables a speed to market and a targeted approach that other recruiters just can’t match.

We call this collection of vital knowledge and skills Talent Intelligence. We’ll be telling the market more about the benefits of this in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, here are some examples of the feedback we received from our clients.

Member of the Senior Leadership Team at a Global Procurement Software Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

We are expanding and accelerating a go to market strategy in an area where we lacked internal expertise to support our goals or objectives. We were hiring to accelerate the growth and sales (revenue) of the company.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable?

The network or relationships within the space you have and the quality of candidates that are actually pre-qualified and have a demonstrated interest in moving for the right opportunity saved a tremendous amount of time and resources that we don’t have available internally.

HR Leader at the same business:

You know how much we value you, your expertise and our long term relationship with you. I have nothing to say but positive things. 

EMEA GM Global Procurement Software Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

Filling a business critical Exec to lead a fast growing Top Growth Region for our business.

How has the candidate we placed impacted your business?

He’s a strong leader infusing best practices to our business…no doubt about his direct performance/impact on our business in his region.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable? Please specify.

Your commitment to the result, strong candidates (three of them could have done the job). The people to people relationship resulting in us understanding and trusting each other.

What could we have done better?

Overall was a great experience.

If a trusted friend or colleague asked what you thought of us what would you say to them?

Strong recommendation.

CTO Procurement Solutions Business:

What business problem did filling your position solve?

Skills and experience to lead our data function. He has implemented a data warehouse and taken all business reporting in hand.

How has the candidate we placed impacted your business?

He has had a hugely positive impact on the business and brought order to chaos in our data function. He has now been promoted to Head of Technology.

Apart from filling the vacancy was there any other aspect of our service you found valuable? Please specify.

Andrew helped me scope the must have and nice to have elements of the role so that we were able to find the right candidate. We had to flex on location. This has worked out well.

If a trusted friend or colleague asked what you thought of us what would you say to them?

Andrew has always provided me with an excellent service. His consultative approach, knowledge of the procurement technology marketplace and his network are in my view the keys to his success.

If these messages are relevant to your current business needs and you want more information now then please get in touch.

What’s wrong with your recruitment process?

In our People & Hiring Challenges research earlier this year, which received 450 responses, one of the questions we asked was: “What is your biggest hiring challenge?” 

The answer with the second-highest rank, with 18% of respondees identifying as an issue, was “we aren’t seeing the right candidates.”

Our whole message to the market is built around being able to solve this specific problem for our clients in the procurement technology world. It’s also a subject that is clearly a problem for many organisations.

So with your help, we want to research the subject in more detail to help everyone better understand the issues.

Please take no more than two minutes to answer our questions, and be in with the chance of winning a £200 Amazon voucher. Here’s a link to the survey