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Strong Economy - Pay Up!

Dear Stephen,

I saw in the news that recession fears have eased, and job gains are substantial. This may sound great, but as the VP of Sales for a major furniture manufacturer with numerous sales openings, this is not good news for me. The low unemployment rate means my company faces even greater challenges in getting high-quality candidates to accept our job offers.

Our HR department has a strong team of professional in-house recruiters. However, they primarily rely on passive recruitment strategies, such as LinkedIn, Indeed, networking, our website, and job postings. Despite their proficiency in recruiting for factory or clerical positions, our extensive HR protocols limit their effectiveness in attracting top sales talent for my hiring managers, especially across the country. I believe that, as a sales VP, they simply lack the required finesse to make top talent feel wanted enough to get them to say "yes!" while recruiting from our HQ.

In short, I am becoming desperate. Even with the layoffs in technology and media companies, our industry has a shortage of experienced people, and passive recruiting from LinkedIn is not attracting the caliber of salespeople and leaders our brand deserves.

My internal recruitment team doesn’t seem to understand that, so far in Q1 of 2024, candidates still dominate the market. It’s not like my company will just replace them all or outsource the work to an outside recruiter like you, who I have no doubt could help persuade candidates into saying yes. I am stuck with a large, cumbersome internal HR recruiting department, burning cash with no results - and too many openings.

What can I do or say to my HR leadership team to help them understand the market better and make changes so they can recruit the talent we desperately need?

Be a sport, what’s your advice for them?


HR Purgatory


Dear Purgatory,

It sounds like you already know my favorite expression, which is: Outside recruiters do it better! We just do. We can shift the narrative, wrap our brand around yours, and we don’t have to do anything unethical while poaching people from your competitors. We proactively cold call and recruit. That is part of our job; the other part is telling your story in a compelling way that helps candidates see why working for your company is a win-win situation. However, I am a good sport, and I understand the predicament you're in with your team.

So, here is what your internal HR leaders should consider to get the best candidates to say "yes." Great advice for HR or anyone hiring:

1. It’s all about the BASE salary. The higher the base salary, the more likely your offer will be accepted. If necessary, reduce the incentive portion of your package, but focus on offering a higher base salary.

2. Include a SIGN-ON BONUS. Nothing says "I want you" more than a sign-on bonus.

3. Be a nice company to work for, and be nice bosses. Hiring managers need to understand that they are the ones who need to be nice to candidates. Discover the candidate's motivations and goals and explain how your company is the right culture for what they are looking for, what they aspire to. People go to work where they feel wanted, heard, and appreciated.

4. Do not expect someone to ask you for the job. You need to close them! Don’t tell me they need to close you. This is 2024, and the rules have changed. Some employers still don’t get that. Have a compelling story, or even a video, that excites them about coming to work for you.

5. Think about giving the person you want to hire references! Yes, a candidate will give you references, but consider giving the candidate a “reference” of happy employees to highlight why they decided to join your company. Think about it.

Finally, when all else fails (and it will), open your wallet and hire a professional recruiter. Even the smartest internal recruiters know outsiders are better at getting candidates to accept the offer. We are not looking to replace internal recruitment departments; we are looking to augment them and make them better. Candidates trust outsiders more because we ARE outsiders. They think of us as coaches, even when we are working for the hiring company. It's just common sense.