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EPISODE 72: Senior Manager of DHG Search, Mark DeVerges, shares his perspective on the economic factors impacting the war on talent and strategies for how companies can recruit and retain the right candidates in this competitive demand for employees.



[0:00:09.7] JL: Welcome to today's edition of DHG's GrowthCast. I'm your host, John Locke. At DHG, our strength relies on our technical knowledge, our industry intelligence and our future focus. We understand business needs and are laser-focused on company goals. In this ever-changing world, DHG's GrowthCast provides insights and thought-provoking conversations on topics and trends that address growth opportunities and challenges in the current and future marketplace.

Thanks for joining us as we discuss tomorrow's needs today.

[0:00:42.3] ANNOUNCER: The views and concepts expressed by today's panelists are their own and not those of Dixon Hughes Goodman LLP. Always consult the advice of your legal and financial professional before taking any action.


[00:00:57] JL: Thank you for joining us on GrowthCast to explore a topic that is top of mind for many leaders in all areas of business and industry. That is talent. Specifically, how to win the current war on talent? My guest today is DHG Senior Manager of DHG Search. Mark DeVerges. Welcome to DHT GrowthCast, Mark.

[00:01:18] MD: Thank you, John. It's great to be here. I'm excited about speaking about this topic. It's such an important issue these days.

[00:01:25] JL: Well, I tell you what. There is really not a day that goes by that we are reminded by the signs on the roads. How many organizations just really need people in this day and age? I guess, it's overstated to say this now hiring signs have become really worn out phrases in our post pandemic economy. Today, I was hoping that we could spend a few minutes discussing, how this is actually impacting the world of professional talent recruitment, and retention? That's why I wanted to have you here to talk about this, because this is the world that you live in every day.

Let's start with your perspective on what has led us to this incredibly unprecedented time when we are talking about the war that's raging on talent?

[00:02:17] MD: John, great question. Right now, we are in a very unique combination of economic factors, that there is this COVID economic impact of more money flowing. There is great demand for a lot of service and product materials. Folks are getting out to the restaurants. Folks are getting out to shop in person, as well as continuing to do so online.

There's just this demand from a market standpoint. Yet, there's also this recovery period from our employment sector and the workforce that's yet to fully recover either from folks that are still needing to stay out of a full time workforce scenario just due to their own life factors or that they've just grown accustomed to having a little bit more flexibility and they don't need to go after very specific role.

That combination of demand, and then the workforce supply, especially on this service level, type roles all the way up to the executive level positions, it has been broadly impacted. We're seeing that in the active workforce across all sorts of industries. It's not nationwide, it is not industry wide. I just want to be very mindful of that.

Right now, especially in that service, retail in the restaurant space, we've seen rampant demand that's flowing through and supporting our manufacturing industries, healthcare construction, and dealerships are continuing to grow exponentially coming off some very successful years, where they are looking to hire then add into that.

A lot of these high profile IT cybersecurity issues that are going on a lot of companies are then also looking to add to and grow their IT space and being able to prevent cybersecurity. Ju0st about every sector of the workforce and most sectors of the economy, from an industry standpoint are just seeing this rampant demand. There's this lack of ability to fill that from a workforce standpoint.

[00:04:37] JL: I guess it's easy to categorize this as a candidate's market. That's probably the understatement of the day. You've been doing this for quite a while Mark. What are you seeing as the shift that's taking place in the mindset now of a candidate, as they're approaching job opportunities, or just looking at the future for them from a career standpoint? What's different now in their minds, versus a year and a half, two years ago?

[00:05:10] MD: Right now, it is absolutely a candidates market. It was two, three years ago where we can all remember that there's definitely a robust economy. Things were in definitely a growth mode. The workforce relative to where we're at right now, was much more on form with what we needed. It was still tight. Companies still really need to have an on point recruiting phase within their process but that they were able to get those positions filled.

It's interesting, just how challenging is for companies to attract candidates in general. Let eventually attract the candidates that have the right knowledge, skills, abilities that fit what their actual needs are.

[00:05:58] JL: Talk to us a little about your perception of the difference in the mindset of the candidates now that a couple of years ago. How are they thinking differently in approaching market opportunities and careers now versus a couple two, three years ago?

[00:06:18] MD: Over the past two or three months, we've seen the resurgence of so much market demand, that candidates that are aligned to the positions that they're interested in or applying for. All of a sudden, are receiving multiple different companies and offers. That companies are rolling out the red carpet in what that recruiting experience feels like to the point that candidates feel very confident that they can be very picky and select exactly what they want.

We're seeing a kids that are unemployed or in between jobs, have the confidence of turning down jobs without having another offer in hand, just from the perception that, "Hey, in another two days to two weeks, I'm likely going to have something even better." That is a very challenging space to be in for companies that are looking to hire. Treating these offers and employment opportunities almost as a commodity at this point in time.

It makes it very challenging for companies to break through and to point out why their opportunities actually are very aligned career path versus an offer that they're likely going to receive something that's very similar a couple days from now as well.

[00:07:38] JL:  I can imagine that this really creates pressure on the hiring function within companies, the HR departments or talent acquisition, whoever's in charge of this. The speed now in which they have to act must be really different than a couple of years ago. Is that an issue internally with these firms?

[00:07:59] MD:  It is. A few different ways to look at that. I'm a big believer of hiring slow and firing fast. Really making sure that you're getting the right folks on your team. Right now, that hire slow part of that does not work. Companies really have to make sure that everyone is aligned. Who's in a position for that hiring review process, to interview quickly, interview mostly on the candidate's terms and their schedule.

The companies that are able to attract the right candidates are making sure that they are showing their company most favorably by meeting the right schedule, accommodating candidates and really making sure that they're able to position themselves faster than other organizations as the shortcuts are have multiple offers, and trying to make sure that you're able to get in that process sooner, rather than later. Hopefully, to a point where you're able to avoid that getting too much other attention or get distracted from other groups is very critical right now.

[00:09:05] JL: Yeah. This gets down to I'm sure, just the basic supply demand equation. With that comes the precedented stress around compensation. A company that is trying to compete for good talent. How do you keep it from just becoming a bidding war? Because of how fast you have to act and react and these sign on bonuses. I'm hearing just incredible stories about sign on both bonuses. How do you manage that equation, to make sure you get the right talent, but you aren't just throwing money to get a body in the door?

[00:09:45] MD: You hit the nail on the head. It's all about economics, that supply demand curve is definitely in play with this right now. Also be mindful of pay of your existing team members as it doesn't take much for them to start getting those same type of contact calls from recruiters or just feeling, "Oh, well someone else is coming in.” Just getting that sense that they are an order of magnitude in a different pay ban, and that's unbalanced.

That best strategy using - bonuses is helpful. Generally there are costs and impacts of changing jobs. There's a delay in some of the benefits. There's delay in impact especially for some of the individuals that are moving especially out of some of the bigger cities, for example, that we've seen over the past year. There is a cost to that - sign on bonuses have been very beneficial in helping overcome that impact but also then not completely throwing salary bands that the company's business model is built on to try to give it some level of structure. Right now, yeah, good candidates are asking certainly the other end of compensation bands, as that has become market.

We've seen generally across the country, cost of living increase, there's perception of a lot of the products and services that we all buy and use. Those have increased steadily over the past year. Think about some of the toilet paper prices that I paid last - to find it, and that that's continued to have long term impacts to that folks are seeing that. Their actual cost of what normal looks like has increased in many markets, 5, 10%, if not more, and thus, they are basically expecting that their compensation will allow them to continue maintaining just status quo. If not seeing a financial improvement.

[00:11:50] JL: You had mentioned early in your comment that there's an impact on the current workforce, as they're watching this take place around them. They're watching people get this money thrown at them. They're thinking, "10, 20 $30,000 signing bonus or overall package increase, maybe I should be looking.” How do we keep these really good people in today's environment, knowing that they're paying close attention to this and reevaluating their situation?

[00:12:27] MD: It's all about loving the people that you have. It's really hard to find replacements and the best offense is a good defense. It's naturally a lot easier to keep the high performance that you have. Don't be afraid to have some spot bonuses and just some real signs of appreciation are going to return a very high return on investment, if you will. For companies that are struggling to find people, make sure that you're then not having to fill one but two folks, because you've also lost that other individual that you're counting on staying.

That combination of hiring fast is also having an impact on those key decision makers within the organization that are needing to clear their schedule. That's probably pushing workflow to other managers and individuals within the organization and being mindful for that impact to hire faster, to try to meet compensation by meeting and showing your company's spirit. What makes your company special from that culture standpoint is mission critical, and then being able to live it out to your existing employees.

If they hear all sorts of great aspects about the company being thrown up on the Billboard, so you speak, but yet, they aren't actually seeing it play out themselves in their own reality. That's where some companies are also finding that they're losing that trust. That they are losing the folks that they already have. Other people that you have, it's hard to find replacements right now. Also, they're likely receiving heavier volume of contact from other individuals also looking to hire.

I know many companies that even some of their customers are also planting the see with some of their employees, "Hey, actually come over here or who do you know?” Those are all great aspects that recruiters myself, again, I've been doing this for 17 some years now that we rely on, and are in networking.  Well it is pretty common right now that there's such demand, just about every employee has likely received job opportunities. I've even received contacts from other recruiter for positions, I'm not even closely qualified for just as they are actually looking for bodies. That's, a challenge and being able to take care of the folks that you have is very important.

[00:15:12] JL: Well, and I think most professionals have learned the lesson that it is much easier to find a job while you have a job. You're more attractive while you're employed than unemployed. That's a fairly common principle in the job search/career, upward mobility paradigm. I think that this frenetic environment that we're living in, is create a lot of pressure for companies. I loved what you said about loving on people because that's what it's going to take. You have to pay attention to what's important to them and keeping them in their place.

As we wrap up here today, Mark. If you could give maybe two or three key points to folks who are trying to manage this equation, either in the HR function or talent acquisition roles. In the speed in which this is going down every day and candidates that they're trying to attract. What are two or three things that you would just say, "These are non-negotiables right now, if you want to get good talent on board, in this post pandemic era?”

[00:16:25] MD: It goes back for those in the sales business of always been closing. For folks that are looking to hire, treat every point of contact that you have with potential candidate as an opportunity to create that picture of impact of what it's like to actually work for your company. Again, that flexibility, that intentionality, making sure that candidates are being treated with a genuine contact, not just a form letter. For those that you're very interested in, making sure that you're able to sell that personal touch that helps tremendously.

It also helps to really make sure that your company is living out through values in the community as your current employees are your best brand ambassadors that you could ever find. Companies want to individuals want to work with folks and companies where those other employees seem engaged, happy, and really enjoying what they do. Being able to make sure that that's true, is very important right now.

Trying to make sure that you're keeping pace with what the market rate is. It's very challenging right now, for companies that are already lagging from even going into the pandemic, that now are finding themselves an order of magnitude off, where they need to be from a compensation standpoint to be competitive. Just because they have loved on their people, but they haven't taken care of making sure that their compensation has kept pace. They've lost some strong folks, because sure enough, they've heard of some significant compensation differences.

Then now their whole business model is trying to catch up with that. Use every point of contact as a position of impact for your organization, live out your values, and make sure that your company is keeping pace with where things are from a compensation standpoint to your current and future employees are able to thrive as well.

[00:18:26] JL: Great advice, Mark. Thanks so much for sharing your perspective today. I know our listeners will pick up a few key points there. That they can apply pretty quickly as they start retooling their talent recruitment strategy. Thanks for being with us today, Mark.

[00:18:44] MD: Absolutely. It is an absolute full time job. I love doing it and anything that we can share with other companies that are looking for the best talent. We love sharing our experiences and what's going on out there in the marketplace. Thank you very much for the invite.

[00:19:01] JL: Thank you for joining us today on GrowthCast with Mark DeVerges, Senior Manager at DHG Search. I'm your host John Locke and I look forward to reconnecting with you soon on another episode of DHG GrowthCast. Until then, be sure to rate review and subscribe to DHG GrowthCast on Apple podcasts, Spotify or pod bean.

End of Episode

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