CEOs: Top talent is flooding into the market. Here is how you can hire them now.

 In Founders, Recruiting

More companies are doing layoffs each day in the current crisis.  The silver lining in this cloud is that recruiting has instantly become an unprecedented buyer’s market for tech talent. The supply/demand curve has inverted.  On the supply side, there are a lot of superior people on the street from layoffs.  (Great resumes are hitting my inbox every day.)   On the demand side, the number of open jobs has dropped off a cliff.   Clearly there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to recruiting now as every company’s situation is different with respect to cash, market niche, product stage, and other key variables.   Some companies are surging.  Others are not.   But two types of companies should pounce on this opportunity.

Got money?  Those with strong balance sheets are obviously in the best recruiting position.  If you recently closed a financing, it was perfect timing and you will have high appeal to candidates.  Stock up.

Got vision? But no massive cash reserves?  To meet critical unmet staffing needs, you can still hire with the underused planning tool of workforce balancing.   This process re-evaluates each role in your company and creates an action plan to align the staff mix to achieve current business objectives. 

The process is simple.  It is underused because it is not fun to execute. It requires you to be aggressive and unsentimental about existing staff.  Let’s say your start-up needs a mission-critical Chief Architect for the next release, and the plan was to hire for this role in six months.  Don’t delay.  Capitalize on today’s talent market and do the hire now.  Initiate a full-up review of every role in the company, and create a list of critical staff adds that can help your business in the “new normal.”  Prioritize. Then pay for the new critical role(s) by cutting other staff who, because of the business disruptions of the virus, are lower priority.   For example, are you an early-stage enterprise software company?  Sales cycles are clearly going to stretch out longer because your target customer has all kinds of critical issues to sort out before buying your product.   Why fund a full sales force in this environment?   Release a couple of sales people so the net payroll is the same – or lower.   Depending on your business model, you may not need these roles for a year.  Done wisely, you could improve your team AND save some cash by workforce balancing.

But won’t this action upset the culture of your organization?  You are likely terminating effective employees, not non-performers.   What will employees think of you?  To use a sports analogy, you need to put the best team together right now for the new challenges ahead.   You can’t carry players who are good folks, but not absolutely essential to achieve revised company objectives and timelines.   Sports teams cut many very good players.  The world has changed and you need to adjust your team to win.   Terminating staff to hire new staff may sound radical – maybe even mean.  It is not.  You are making this strategic call to acquire rarely available talent which will increase your company’s probability of survival and then success.  Your board will applaud and your employees will “get it” over time that the CEO is making gutsy adjustments for future success.  

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