YOUR HIRING PLAN IS PROBABLY AWFUL

by Matt Thomas

One of our favorite calls to make here at Core Ventures is the 90-day check-in. At 90 days we have a handful of solid placements, we’ve hit a rhythm on the sourcing front, and we have a handle on the type of candidate our client wants. Being on retainer, at this point if things are going well with no sign of slowing down, we know that this will likely be a longer-term engagement. Perfect. This is the call where we get a pulse on their hiring strategy for the next few quarters. Sure, we’re neck-deep in their urgent needs list, but anytime we can get a glimpse of what’s coming we’re better for it.

Usually, our clients will list off a few positions they know they are going to need help filling. Job titles only, timelines fuzzy, and comp ranges non-existent. Par for the course.

Usually, our clients will list off a few positions they know they are going to need help filling. Job titles only, timelines fuzzy, and comp ranges non-existent. Par for the course. On occasion, a client will surprise us with something along the lines of, “Sure! I’ll email you our hiring plan when we get off the phone.” We get the notification in our inbox shortly after wrapping up the call and lo and behold a thoughtful, clear, and actionable hiring plan. Not just for the next quarter, but for the entire year. We both know some of the timelines will shift but for the most part, we’ll be in the ballpark and their business will reap the benefits.

Inside these walls, it is no secret that we wouldn’t be in business if our clients knew what they were doing on the hiring front. Companies hire us most often for one of four reasons:

  1. They are in growth mode and need to augment their current recruiting efforts.
  2. The leader of the organization is doing the hiring (or trying to) and is exhausted.
  3. They have trouble finding, assessing, and closing talent.
  4. They have an unhealthy turnover rate.

We usually get a call when the house is already on fire. They needed people in important seats yesterday, and they finally decided to ask for help. Once we get them out of a hole and into a steady rhythm the light bulb goes off, “Hey! Maybe we should outsource the things we’re not good at so we can focus on the things we are good at, you know, that drive actual revenue and generate profit!”

We usually get a call when the house is already on fire. They needed people in important seats yesterday, and they finally decided to ask for help.

It is difficult coming out of a fire drill and thinking 2-3 quarters ahead on the strategy front, but it’s mission-critical or you and your business will end up right back in the burning house. A talent acquisition strategy (or hiring plan) should be easy if you are putting together any kind of annual strategic plan or growth strategy. Unfortunately, most hiring plans we see are scribbled onto a napkin over lunch. The founder/entrepreneur/owner/etc won’t say it out loud, but they are afraid of committing projected revenue toward potentially costly hires even if they know in their gut they will be stuck on the same plateau forever without a bump in talent.

Here are a few tips for dialing in a hiring plan that doesn’t suck:

Be realistic about what you can afford.

Sure it would be fun to hire all the top dogs in your industry, but can you afford them? Talent isn’t cheap and as much as you might think that unicorn loves your core values so much they will take a 30% digger on comp you are wrong my friend.

Talent isn’t cheap and as much as you might think that unicorn loves your core values so much they will take a 30% digger on comp you are wrong my friend.

Prioritize revenue generators.

If you are a small business then it is likely the senior leadership does most of the business development work. You may have a few low-paid interns banging the phones but no meaningful revenue generators on the team. Revenue solves a lot of problems. Find someone with a book of business in your industry, set some parameters, dial-in commission structure, and turn them loose. And if they are good? Get out of the way.

Hire a good leader and more will follow.

If you need to add a member to your leadership team, or middle management layer, understand that if you hire a good leader it is likely you will fill additional needs farther down the org chart in due time. Next to company culture and compensation most employees stay where they are because they respect and enjoy their manager.

Begin your search before you need to.

It is a whole lot easier to keep a solid candidate on the pine for a little while then it is to find one overnight. Start your search a month or two before you need to. It is no secret that we make better decisions with a clear head and lower stress levels. Get going before things hit the fan.

It is a whole lot easier to keep a solid candidate on the pine for a little while then it is to find one overnight.

So, what does your talent acquisition for 2021 look like? Here’s to hoping you have more than a few scribbles on a napkin! Go get ‘em.