Distressed hires & Planned hires

I hope you’ll forgive a footballing analogy. I am, for my sins, an Everton fan. I like to think that supporting the blues has taught me persistence and faith, if nothing else.

Everton’s recruitment policy is among the very worst in the land. They wait for an employee to leave, and then they try (fail) to replace them before a deadline. The pain of not replacing those employees has resulted in Everton losing many matches, and you could argue it’s going to cost the club many millions of pounds.

Now – back into our context. An employee leaves and you jump into action to replace that person. However, they’re on a four-week notice period and it takes time to do the following:

  • Create a job description
  • Brief a recruiter
  • Have the recruiter screen candidates
  • Go through 2 rounds of interviews, sometimes a week apart
  • Negotiate contracts
  • … and then wait for your candidate’s notice period to expire

Let’s say it’s around 2-3 months in most cases, between 1 and 2 if you’re lucky and get someone who can negotiate their notice down.

This is distressed hiring. And it’s what most companies do.

And yet the cost racks up when you think about the potential drop in productivity from your exiting hire, the gap in between hires, and the time it takes your new hire to get into their groove.

Back when I was working in HR, this came to around £30,000 in lost productivity and recruitment fees.

If you’re a marketing agency, this may be lost work, and the cost of lost opportunity will be even higher as you have to turn work away due to the lack of staff able to carry it out.

Distressed hiring, by its very nature, means that you’re trying to find people in a short window of time. Those people will necessarily be:

  • Unemployed
  • Working out a notice period already
  • Actively interviewing
  • Passively searching

What you’ll find, in many of those cases, is that you’re competing for the talent that is available at that moment with many others in your area, and as we’ve seen lately, it’s money that counts – not benefits, so you may have to pay more than you initially thought.

We can’t always avoid distressed hiring, but we can plan ahead to avoid most of it.

Take a pen and write down the following:

  • How many employees do you have in your business?
  • Assume that 1/5th of people are ‘open to work’ on LinkedIn (the marketing average is 20% – higher among younger people and senior execs, going up to around 30%)
  • So if you have 20 people, four of them are looking for work and might be interviewing right now
  • What roles do you think you might be hiring for over the next 12 months?
  • Add that number of roles to the previous number of people open to work – this is the total number of hires you’re going to have to make in 12 months

Imagine you have 20 people, and if you’re expanding you may need to make 8 hires over the next 12 months.

So when I was digital agency-side, I built my own processes, because frankly the recruiters we worked with were pants. Here’s what I did:

  • I found every single person in our local area already at agencies & connected with them on LinkedIn
  • I broke them down into lists – future superstars, account managers, SEO people, PPC people, etc. (some people were on multiple)
  • I kept the CVs of everyone who had ever applied & kept them as separate lists
  • I looked at what I might need in, say, 6 months and nurtured that list

It took time, and yeah – you can get US to do it instead – but if you’re a marketer and you’re looking to hire marketers, your very own skill of being a marketer could be what makes you a very good recruiter.

It also takes you away from a distressed hire conversation to a different scenario, where if you receive someone’s notice, you have a list of people that you can talk to who already know about you, who may have bought into you, and who may not be actively interviewing but may be tempted.

Planned hiring is so much nicer. It cuts down on costs, it custs down on the lost opportunity, and it means you can grow even when you’re firefighting surprise resignations. And if you’re Everton, you might end up not getting relegated. No hope there, I’m afraid.

Obviously, we can help you with this. A retainer, based on a projected number of hires, ends up costing you less than contingent recruitment, and you also get market insights from all those conversations we’re having with your future candidates. Ace, yes? Get in touch.


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