Counter offers on the rise

Did you find the perfect candidate to fill your company’s open position?

Better move fast - really fast.

Chances are, a counteroffer is on the way - from the candidate’s current employer or another business.

I met recently with Mike Gremmer, who is the regional vice president at Robert Half, a professional staffing firm with offices around the world that works both with employers and employees. Gremmer is based here in Des Moines and has his finger on the pulse of the job market, both regionally and nationally.

Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that as the unemployment rate declines, and fewer people are looking for jobs, the time it takes to make a hire would increase. But that hasn’t been the case, says Gremmer, who cited a study that showed that the average length of the hiring process today is about the same as it was in 2010.

“There is this false sense (at many companies) that there is still a strong availability of talent,” he said. “And actually there is really not. There is a shortage of talent.”

The greater competition for employees means that some companies, which are fueled by that false sense, are used to doing an interview process on their own slow, plodding terms. Then, they often get to the offer stage, only to be surprised that their candidates already have multiple offers to consider - and potentially a counteroffer from their current employer. 

In other words, if you have a good candidate, snatch him or her up. And bring your best offer to the table. Gremmer had a few pieces of advice for hiring in today’s climate. 

First, have a defined hiring process, complete with due dates to ensure a timely hiring process. Second, identify which skills you can teach a candidate after the hire, then narrow your expectations for the candidate and focus on the top three traits or skills you need that person to have. Too many businesses have a laundry list of skills and qualifications they desire, which stems from a pickier day when talent was plentiful.

The trick, of course, and the challenge for businesses, Gremmer said, is you can’t make a quick hire just to make a quick hire. You still have to hire good people.

LinkedIn free agents

Let me preface this by saying that of course, LinkedIn shouldn’t be your only recruitment tool. But, while talking with Gremmer, I had a thought about the impact of LinkedIn on the job market. Essentially, every one of your employees with a Linkedin profile is now always searching for a job. Not intentionally, but as passive free agents, in a public way that didn’t necessarily exist before LinkedIn. In the past, you had to make an active step to post your resume, search a job board or contact a staffing agency - or have a reputation. Now, your resume and your employees’ resumes are always visible to anyone who chooses to look at them. As we come out of recession and enter a period of competition for talent, Gremmer said employees can expect their phones to be ringing with greater frequency, and for many, they already are. Not necessarily as a result of LinkedIn, but, with the advent of Linkedin, it sure has never been easier to scout the competition’s talent. This is just another example of the shift, albeit small, in the power balance in favor of employees, who continue to have more tools available to market themselves to companies.

Internal Equity

One last thought to consider. Gremmer and I talked a bit about potential issues in internal pay equity. In this new climate, employees are commanding salaries potentially above what people might have commanded three to five years ago, even for the same position. Balancing pay equity with bringing in good talent is going to be something businesses need to pay attention to.

A Nebraska joke

Gremmer used to live in Utah and Colorado. So if you bump into him, ask him about his love for the mountains and snowboarding. In fact, he still makes trips out that way. In talking about the quickest he’s ever driven to the mountains in Colorado - 9 1/2 hours, cough - from Iowa, he quipped a fun joke at the expense of Nebraska. “You can drive 180 miles per hour across Nebraska, or you can do 80. But it’s still going to take six hours.” Luckily there aren’t any speed cameras on Interstate 80 in western Nebraska.

Soccer love

Tanya Keith, a 2007 Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree and the author of a recently published book titled “Passionate Soccer Love,” is in Brazil this week at the FIFA World Cup. The book chronicles her plight as a U.S. soccer fan, which spans 20 years, eight countries and trips to five World Cups. Interestingly, she raised the money to publish the book - nearly $5,000 - via crowdfunding site Kickstarter. She even scored a ringing endorsement from award-winning Sports Illustrated writer Grant Wahl. You can learn more and buy the book at Katherine Klingseis, a fellow former editor-in-chief at the Iowa State Daily, did a quick Q&A in The Des Moines Register with Keith. Read it here.