Why Retaining an Executive Search Partner Will Help you to Build High Performing Teams in Technology

Long before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, in many industry sectors, and not least STEM, key players pointed to concerning skills gaps as potential obstacles for future hiring. The technology sector in particular, has long suffered from the imbalance between demand for talent and available talent.

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No doubt, the impacts of the pandemic have significantly and negatively affected the economy and many industries. However, many of these hard-to-fill positions remain in demand and difficult to fill. Generally, these hard-to-fill tech roles range from cyber security, industrial cyber, industrial automation, and artificial intelligence (AI) to software positions, and data science fields.

Why are Tech Roles Hard-to-Fill?

As the hiring manager in a technology function (If you run a tech firm), you may come to the conclusion that your competitors are securing the best talent; that’s why the perfect candidate for that open position in your firm remains elusive. Perhaps, you believe that there is a real shortage of people with the required skill set to fill technical positions in information technology.

Both of these assumptions will in part be true. Sometimes your competitors will get there first, sometimes – like in cyber/industrial cyber and industrial automation – there really will be a shortage of people. But it is also the case that finding and securing that talent is a full-time job in itself, and as the hiring manager you will have many other expectations placed on your time. You need to fully immerse yourself in this, or you need support.

That’s where our expertise as an executive search partner comes into play.

We are fully immersed in these niche areas; we are speaking to the people you need every day, and we are putting in place the recruitment strategies that are assisting your competitors in attracting this talent. This is a key differentiator. As your Executive Search partner, we don’t just find people, we build the recruitment strategy; we manage the candidate experience. We are the advocates for your brand and culture.

Teams in Tech

Tech Hiring: What Are Your Options

Companies approach the job of hiring in different ways, we are going to analyze the pros and cons of these different approaches in detail.

  1. Advertise Yourself

Most tech firms certainly fill a good number of their vacancies by advertising the role themselves. They may use their own website, linkedIn, or online job boards, but for many reasons this approach can be ineffective.

We can assume that the candidates who are responding to your advertisement are more likely to be active in the market – they sought out and proactively responded to your advert after all. We can assume they will be looking at multiple positions, speaking to a number of companies, and you have no intermediary to provide any insight on what is happening. No control whatsoever over this process.

The advert is one dimensional, there is no background story to bring your opportunity to life. While it might describe the opportunity and the business, it will not tell them who you are, the team they will work with or the many and varied interesting challenges that you all undertake everyday – which they can be a part of.

  1. Turn to Contingency Recruiters

In many ways it might seem logical to turn to a contingency recruiter, you pay on success, no up-front cost and no risk – and you might also believe this translates to a huge incentive for that recruiter to get the result for you…payment if they do!

You might also decide to give the task to a number of these contingent recruiters, after all, increased competition leads to faster, guaranteed results. What better incentive for the recruiter to deliver, than to beat a rival?

The contingent approach may bring you a steady flow of candidates, the recruiter will keep on going until they get a result, and suddenly you have an embarrassment of riches!

However, this is not always the case. Payment on success means that a contingent recruiter needs to spread the risk, they need a large funnel of opportunities to work on, and to spread their time across multiple clients. No matter what way you look at this the quality of service will inevitably reduce. The old saying is true, time is money, and when they have spent too much time on something without a result – it makes sense to walk away. You do not have your hire, and your transactional relationship means you also do not have any market data or insights, this process was about speed not detail.

They need to get candidates into jobs to get paid. Therefore, they will represent these candidates across multiple opportunities, first come, first served. Their purpose is to get paid, and it does not matter who by, their loyalty is not with you.

  1. Rely on Your Brand and Name

How are you measuring the impact of this? How do you know how you are perceived in the market? Is the data reliable? Is it empirical or just anecdotal? If you cannot answer these questions, then how can you rely on your Brand and Name?

Ok, let’s say you have the potential pull of a Google, Amazon, Tesla or Facebook. Let’s say you have 100 applications for every job position posted, you have 20 positions, and that it takes 10 minutes to read, and review each one. Roughly speaking that is 13 days solid – even that out to a typical working day and it’s even longer. That is before you have even started interviewing…and there is no way that all of those candidates will be suitable.

Also, remember that there is a high probability that each of those applicants has made multiple applications. Active candidates will have more than one opportunity in play, and you have no intermediary to track this.

Finding Talent

Leveraging an Executive Search Partner

When you want to fill a leadership position, or a niche technical role you should be aware that this talent is not browsing job boards for career opportunities. They are even less likely to be looking at your careers page, and when they get there…it’s likely to be a maze to navigate.

Your in-house talent team will be working hard across multiple roles, and the truth is that these difficult to find talents require dedicated time to find, attract, speak with, and engage.

Network/Pipeline Recruiting:

As an executive search partner, we are people who are inherently good at networking, we interact with people all day long and are immersed in the community of candidates that you need to attract. It’s what we do for a living. When you are looking for high leadership positions like VP of engineering, CTO, and CISO, some of our potential candidates are likely to be people we have spoken to, connected with, or can very quickly be referred to.

 For those niche technical roles, all that time dedicated to networking means that we know where to look. We know what motivates these candidates, and when we do speak with them, we understand how best to engage them.

Process & Brand:

When you work with us as your Executive Search partner you are working with your brand ambassador in the market, and we will apply process and structure to what we do.

We take the time to understand your story. The company, the team, the individual – what the culture is that underpins this, what your employee/employer brand or value proposition is. What success looks like for someone working for and with you, career progression, challenges, environment. The technicalities of the role will not always differ massively, but the environment will, and this can make all the difference. But as we have taken the time to get to know you and your company, we can sell your culture as part of the opportunity.

A well thought out process is in place. We research, approach, verify, screen, interview, brief and debrief at every stage of the interview. Before the candidate has even been introduced to you, they have been vetted, extensively, or, if you prefer – the interview process with your company started with us.

Market Intelligence:

We provide our clients with an incredible amount of market Intelligence generated from analyzing market trends, compensation packages, and organizational structures. All of this information is nonproprietary, so our clients are free to use them however they see fit.

When we make calls to top executives, VPs of engineering, CTOs, CISOs, and team leads, we collect invaluable data regarding the market perceptions of their brand, their workplace culture and their strength as an employer. Also, learning  how the top tech companies incentivize their top performers and talents, build their leadership teams, and create succession plans to maintain sustainable growth.

When we speak to niche tech talent, we are gathering the same information. But we can also find out, what your competitors working on right now. What trend is coming, what is the talent you are looking for dedicating their time to learn about? What motivates them, and what trends and patterns can we see, that you can capitalize on.

Conversely what demotivates them, what drives them to leave – might you be making the same mistakes, or can you at least verify that you are getting it right.

As you can see there are, and will always be, options for you, but not all options will lead to the same result. If you want something that will have an impact beyond just the hire – Executive Search, and in particular our approach is something that you need to consider.

In summary what do you get?

  • A Brand Ambassador – we take your business and we bring it to life in a competitive market. We also bring to life the team, personalities and innovative projects behind the name. All invaluable information that they will not get from an advert or passive contingency relationship.
  • Data – we can, and will, deliver insights and results that add value beyond hiring the right person.
  • Process – we add the structure that you will not get from a contingent, transactional relationship, and which you will not get from an advert.
  • Opposite of contingent – which is a higher risk engagement, you will not be their main focus, they will not implement a formal process and if they do not deliver you have nothing to show from weeks or months of work.

You should contact us directly to learn more about how we can help you. Click the link below or call us on …. And let us put in place the Executive Search strategy which will deliver for you.

About the author
David McGowan
8 min read

David is one of Collingwood’s newest members joining as an Executive Search Consultant and leading recruitment within the Industrial IT/OT and Cyber Security market.

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