Economic shifts are becoming the norm, which puts you in a difficult place. How can businesses ensure their talent strategies remain resilient and cost-effective? 

Picture this: you are a start-up CEO and recently acquired funding and now you are looking to scale your team. Part of your recruitment strategy would be to get a Head of Talent, a Talent Partner and someone to manage your talent operations. Finding experienced people who will get this first time right is time-consuming!

 

THE NEED FOR ADAPTABLE TALENT STRATEGIES

The macroeconomic environment is constantly evolving, and so must your talent strategy. But how can you do this?

Understanding The Current Macroeconomic Challenges

Let’s talk about the major economic factors affecting talent management. 2022-23 saw the worst-ever market for tech hiring – we saw mass layoffs and VCs pulling back on funding. Startups struggled with their runway and had to lay people off with Talent & Operations professionals being first in the line of fire.

Imagine the hours and resources spent building the perfect talent team only to lay them off. If only there was a more resilient way to scale your teams and execute your recruitment strategy…

If there is anything we have learnt from the past few years of manic hiring (2020-21) and then the big slowdown (2022-23), is that we need a more flexible and cost-effective way to hire without compromising on the quality of talent or talent density. What is the solution? An embedded Talent Partner.

The Role Of Embedded Talent Partners In Navigating Change

A Talent Partner can help you adapt to the economic shifts. With an embedded team, you can scale up or down with the changing macro environment. Your embedded Talent Partner can:

  • Serve as the voice of the company: They can bring in their experience and create a cohesive employer brand – you need someone who can do the basics when resources are tight.
  • Execute and plan: Not only can they execute and be hands-on, but they can also be strategic and help with the mid-long term planning for future resources.

 

INNOVATE RECRUITMENT STRATEGIES FOR A DYNAMIC MARKET

Adapting your recruitment strategy is key to thriving in a changing market. But what do you need to look at?

Leveraging Embedded Talent For Flexibility

An embedded Talent Partner will:

  • Assess your headcount plan (even help you develop it) and depending on how aggressive it is, design a recruitment process which will help you hire better and quicker.
  • Help you get out there with a coherent “Employer Voice” which will be reflected on LinkedIn, job specs and any candidate communication.
  • Ensure they lay down the foundations for a great candidate experience throughout the process. Guiding the candidate and hiring manager every step of the way.
  • Track the key metrics and report on them.

Utilising Data And AI In Recruitment

A Stanford University study highlights the potential inaccuracies of generative AI tools like ChatGPT, prompting 73% of leaders to express concerns regarding security vulnerabilities and algorithmic bias. This McKinsey study was more optimistic. The key will be to strike a balance between using AI for candidate searches and maintaining human involvement. With all these tools available at everyone’s disposal to craft job specs and review resumes, an experienced human touch is still key to delivering a great and humane candidate experience.

The Importance Of Salary Benchmarking

As a relatively early-stage business, an important weapon in your arsenal against the war for talent is “salary benchmarking”. Salary benchmarking data is available both open source and paid and it can play a pivotal role in determining if you want to be a top 85 percentile employer or lower.

There are a lot of well-researched and VC-backed benchmarking surveys available for a price. We at Trifecta Talent believe this is money well spent as more and more candidates are asking for the compensation ranges upfront during the recruitment process. So it’s best you know the market rate for each role.

Advertising your salary range with your job advertisement can lead to increased interest and drive numbers from inbound applications upwards. Paying fairly or having your compensation strategy as your competitive advantage can help attract the right calibre of talent.

Crafting An Exceptional Candidate Experience

As a start-up, you can face many challenges in attracting top talent but a poor candidate experience should not be one, because there are so many cost-effective or free ways to do this. In fact, with the tips below, it can be your biggest superpower!

Your Job spec voice IS your voice

Problem: Your candidates engage with you from what you put out on LinkedIn, such as your job description. Have you paid attention to how your job spec reads? Is it too masculine, too focused on hard skills or too vague? If so, you will end up alienating most of your target audience.

Fix: Use an open-source tool to check if the language on the job spec is inclusive and friendly.

Use your careers page as a candidate experience tool

Problem: Candidates have no idea about the team or the timeline of the interview process. If they have limited time, they will interview at a place which is more forthcoming with information.

Fix: Imagine applying for a role and then being directed to a careers page with a precise timeline of the interview process – the interviewers, stages and time investment required – that would set your process apart from other similar companies the candidate might be applying to and give you an edge.

Candidate pitch – An elevator pitch but for your candidates: 

Problem: Does your recruiter, hiring manager or anyone else part of the interview process 

end up sharing different bits of information with the candidate about the role and company? If so, it ends up confusing the candidate and leaves a bad impression.

Fix: Have a “candidate pitch” document which has everything that you need to talk about the role and company to the candidate. It can include elements such as: “why a software engineer role here is better than anywhere else” OR “what sets your company apart from the rest”. Have a one-pager and circulate it to your hiring team so everyone has this on hand when they are speaking to candidates especially. This will become second nature as hiring machinery gets well-oiled.

Process: 

Problem: Let’s talk about the biggest deal breaker when it comes to candidate experience… The interview process. Are you finding that good candidates are dropping off in the middle of the process? It might be that it is just too long!

Fix: As a start-up, you want to keep it crisp, fast and efficient. Anything more than 4 rounds is overkill especially if you are struggling to make hires and it is proving to be a blocker in your growth. If there are more people who you want the candidate to meet, then consider doing a panel interview and a few informal meet and greets instead of structured interviews and always let the candidate know of all stages beforehand.

People/the interviewing team

Problem: Who are the people meeting the candidates and are they trained? A lot of first-time managers are roped into hiring for roles and they have little previous experience of what to say or how to articulate information in interviews. Are your interviewers saying something they shouldn’t be in the interviews?

Fix: Get your Talent Partner to do a diagnostic on the interviews. They will give feedback to the team and fix issues early via training.

Diversity of interviewing panel: 

Problem: Not having enough diverse members in the team early on is making it difficult to attract and engage a diverse talent pool creating a vicious circle.

Fix: When it comes to hiring the right people the candidates must meet a diverse range of individuals. It is a great idea for a software engineering candidate to meet someone from the customer success team for example. These types of meetings/interviews can be a win-win as you get an outside perspective on the candidate as well as the candidate meeting someone from the wider company allowing for a holistic view of the organisation.

Make SLAs (Service Level Agreements) the bad guy!

Problem: If you don’t know the problem, you can’t solve it. This applies to the recruitment process and as a leader, you are also project managing the process. Tracking metrics like time to hire and the velocity of hire is key but also the time it takes for the candidate to hear back after they applied and after their interviews. Simply put, anything more than 48 hours is not good enough if you are an early-stage business trying hard to attract talent.

Fix: To do this, work with the team and publish ‘Service Level Agreements’ for each stage and then the team should work to stick to them. In my opinion, this is the single biggest step that will lead to minimising candidate drop-offs in the middle of the process and hold interviewers accountable.

Delivering feedback:

Problem: A rule of thumb here is if a candidate spent ANY  time interviewing or preparing for interviews with you, then you should give them some constructive feedback as to why they didn’t make it. It can be tricky as some companies are unable to give this in writing for legal reasons, but no feedback can lead to negative word of mouth for the company.

Fix:  Build that ‘feedback call’ as a process step so it won’t feel like you are doing something extra. Even when a candidate gets disqualified from the process they will always leave with an overall positive experience of the company and will likely refer someone later. Respect the human and their time in the process. Not everyone wants to take a call to receive bad news, so be sure to share a constructive feedback email as well.

 

COST MANAGEMENT IN RECRUITMENT

Effective cost management is crucial in today’s economic climate. So what can you do to take control? Have cost per hire as a core metric.

Calculating And Reducing Cost Per Hire

  • What is “Cost per Hire”? 

Cost per hire is a recruitment KPI which determines how cost-effective the hiring process and overall recruitment strategy is for an organisation. It is simply calculated as the total cost towards hiring efforts divided by the number of hires in any given period of time. This can be quite detailed and granular if you include costs towards man-hours spent interviewing in addition to job advert spend, Applicant Tracking System (ATS) costs, marketing costs etc. 

  • How can we combat the rising recruitment costs in the given macroeconomic environment without compromising on quality? Here are some ways:
    • Focusing on your employer brand to attract more inbound applications. This could be making job descriptions more inclusive, posting on LinkedIn and showcasing the company culture.
    • Building a strong internal referral program. Reward referrals generously as good people happen to know good people.
    • Making the interview process more efficient and reducing the number of hours spent by execs interviewing candidates.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE TOPICS ABOVE

What is the role of an embedded Talent Partner in adapting to economic shifts?
A Talent Partner is the project manager overseeing all interview processes and recruitment strategy. They have an insight into what’s working in the process and what’s superfluous. They can really ground themselves in the culture of the business and define the hiring strategy for an uncertain economic environment.

How can businesses develop a resilient recruitment strategy in a changing macroeconomic environment?
Businesses can have a lean team and an embedded talent approach allows a company to scale the team up or down as the market conditions change.

What are the benefits of embedding talent within an organisation?
It gives you the ability to scale up or down quickly while also providing more nuanced hiring support when compared to high-fee agency-style recruitment.

How does artificial intelligence enhance recruitment operations?
AI can help sift through resumes and help craft attractive job descriptions. However, AI in recruitment is still gathering momentum. The key will be to strike a balance between using AI for candidate searches and maintaining human involvement.

What is salary benchmarking, and why is it important in attracting top talent?
Salary benchmarking data is available both open source and paid and it can play a pivotal role in determining how competitive you are as an employer in the job market. You can use this to attract talent, and assess how you’re paying your employees currently and drive retention.

How can companies improve their employer branding during economic uncertainty?
During a challenging macroeconomic environment, companies can focus on initiatives which are low-hanging and do not cost the earth. For example, revamping job descriptions, sharing content on LinkedIn and building out a strong referral program amongst other things.

What are some effective strategies for enhancing the candidate experience?
Candidate experience can be a superpower especially if you are not a recognisable employer brand yet. Working on an efficient interview process, and providing timely and constructive feedback to all candidates are just some of the steps a company can ensure to leave a good impression on the candidate whether they are selected for the job or not.

How can organisations calculate and reduce their cost per hire?
Focusing on your employer brand to attract more inbound applications and building a strong internal referral program are just some of the ways employers can reduce their cost per hire.

What key factors contribute to the quality of hire in modern recruitment strategies?
‘Quality of hire‘ can be defined as the value new hires bring to a company, this can be assessed by their contribution to the company’s vision & mission. This is not a straightforward metric to track so it is often measured for months after the hire is made, using data such as performance rating, retention rates and employee turnover rates.

 

TO RECAP ON A MODERN TALENT STRATEGY 

Economic environments and market conditions are never stable or the same. What can help during times such as these is to have a lean and agile talent function which can respond to the needs of the hour and build a recruitment strategy which allows for hiring the best talent most efficiently. 

Trifecta Talent specialises in Product, Tech and Go-to-Market recruitment for early-stage start-ups in Fintech, AI, and ClimateTech space. All 3 founders have 10+ years of experience in scaling teams for some of the most well-known brands globally and now we are ready to help early-stage businesses grow and level up. 

Get in touch with us via our Contact Us page and a member of our founding team will be happy to support you.