Managing Competing Job Offers

You are employed with a highly marketable skill set. Recruiters and hiring managers reach out to you often. When you decide to engage with them about their open roles, you can anticipate an offer. But to make things more intriguing, just when you are ready to accept that offer, other companies surface with offers. This seems like a nice problem to have. But now, the challenge is in knowing how to handle competing job offers.

Lucky You!

This situation doesn’t present itself every day. It is imperative to know how to manage this process instead of the process managing you. The companies you have an offer from will know that you are talking to other companies, and they’re going to put a lot of pressure on you. If you’re working with a recruiter, they may add to that pressure. So you have to take control of the situation. Rather than waiting for offers to arrive, establish your thoughts and begin your evaluation early on in the process to minimize the pressure. The longer it takes you to make your decision, the more likely you are to lose offers.

Dating Yourself…

First, you must establish a decision date for yourself that is fair and realistic for all of the companies in the process of making you offers. Suppose you have an offer in hand from one company, and they are demanding an answer within 48 hours. However, you are expecting another offer shortly that will need to be weighed. You need to make it clear that you want to seriously consider their offer, but you are going to need a week or whatever that specific time frame is in your mind. You then need to make it clear to the companies with forthcoming offers that you are making your decision by a specific date. A date established by you.

That initial company may take a hard line and refuse to move forward with the offer under an extended deadline. If this company is at the top of your list, you will need to decide how to take action. But in general, if you are not unrealistic by asking for multiple weeks, companies will allow you the time to receive the offers that you are expecting.

It’s Not About The Money, Money, Money.

It is amazing how little people research their potential employer. Internally, you need to be clear with your expectations for each company. Know specifically what the role is, the organizational structure that you’ll be involved in, the compensation components, the timeline for starting and their goals for you early on. Don’t make it just about money.

Basing your decision solely upon the money is a dangerous path to go down, especially if you are not passionate about the job. If it is an unstable environment, but they are willing to throw money at you and that’s your driving force, that’s a slippery slope. It is also going to turn off one or more of the other companies offering you a job. If the reason you would accept an offer is based purely upon money or title, that’s not a promising decision for your future.

Wiki And Beyond:

A resume filled with short stints at startups can mean that the companies failed. But when your interview reveals that you were often disappointed with the way the companies were structured or managed, it is also a reflection on your inability to do proper due diligence on those opportunities. Save yourself the headache by researching and ranking your opportunities realistically, well in advance of the offer stage.

Look at all aspects. The location and commute. The company value proposition and the potential for success. The security of their financial backing. The career growth path, whether it be from within the company or while moving through additional roles. Examine the title within the context of the company; focus more in terms of what the scope of the role is. Most importantly, evaluate your appetite for risk.

Appetite For Risk:

People often want the upside that comes with a startup. But when it comes down to decision making time, even if the compensation is comparable, that’s when people start having the real soul searching discussion with themselves and their family about their true appetite for that level of risk. You must evaluate the level of risk. Does the management team have a track record? Is their value proposition one that is compelling? Are you passionate about it? Will you be closely aligned with the executive team? Will you have enough time to develop yourself and your brand within the company should there be any acquisition? If the company doesn’t succeed, as long as you are marketable, your ability to find another job is still strong.

Lastly, don’t overlook the cultural consideration. If you go into a company and it is not a good cultural fit on both sides, it can be painful, mind numbing and a really negative experience. All of the money in the world is not going to solve that problem.

Don’t Be Brett Favre.

If you enter into a bidding war between your existing employer and an offering company, or two other companies altogether, at a certain point it will muddy the waters and bring into question your motivation and commitment. A bidding war that you draw out runs the risk of sending up red flags. Red flags that lead to mistrust, limits pushed, and pulled offers. That is why it is crucial to make a decision.

When you turn down an offer, be very clear about that decision in your own mind. If you aren’t firm in your rejection, they may come back to you, giving you more temptation to delay your process. This needs to be a decision for you. You must be clear with all of the parties involved. And when you commit, you’ve got to be ready to commit. Don’t commit if you have doubts. Flip flopping means you weren’t clear in your decision making process up front, shedding light on your capabilities as a future employee.

It is really nice to be loved. When multiple companies are sending you offers, there is that moment where you feel like Sally Field: “You like me, you really like me!” And that can be a bit overwhelming. It is a major decision to change jobs. Do the proper research, planning and consideration in order to make your decision. And once you make your decision, you have to stick with it. That’s why it’s called a decision. You’ve decided something. If you haven’t really decided, then it’s just a possibility. And that is not fair to you, the companies or your recruiter. If you can be so easily convinced within days of accepting one offer to take another one, then you really didn’t make a decision. And that’s going to sully your reputation for building relationships.

This Is Your Life.

You’ve got to manage your future and be clear with what is important to you. It is okay to establish timelines for decisions. Playing the back and forth with all of the companies, but particularly the one that you are most interested in, is rarely the best way to handle your decision making process. You don’t want to be in a place of exhaustion and stress at the end of your choice. Have an immediate framework in your mind. Determine your levers. Rank your priorities. And be clear with others about them. When you are more direct with your recruiter and the companies about your expectations, the stronger the likelihood their offer will be in line with your desires. And the easier your decision will be.job

Five Questions to Help Your Job Posting Attract Better Talent

Five Questions to Help Your Job Posting Attract Better Talent

Help Your Job Posting

Help Your Job Posting

At times, the hiring process can be frustrating. For instance, there may be occasions when your job posting doesn’t receive much attention. Equally troublesome would be an abundance of hopeful candidates, none of whom fit the bill. If you find yourself wondering why the top-notch talent isn’t biting, it may be that you haven’t been using the right bait to capture their interest.

If your hiring efforts aren’t attracting the right type of candidates, ask yourself these questions:

1. Does the job’s title and compensation reflect realistic expectations?

Especially when there are financial constraints, a startup or similar growing company may seek to hire senior level candidates at mid-level salaries. Although the current market is flooded with candidates eager to work, a smaller income package is not likely to attract higher experience levels. Top talent is often already employed. It generally takes a strong compensation package to lure them away. Alternatively, it could be tempting to over-inflate the position by giving it a greater title than the job’s responsibilities entail. Top talent is not likely to fall for a hands-on, lower salaried job description just because the title implies management levels. This approach could instead result in lesser experienced candidates seeking higher salary levels to match the title’s insinuated meaning. If you are a fledgling company, it may be that you are getting the candidates your company warrants at this point in its life cycle. By using realistic titles to match expected responsibilities, and salary ranges that are in-line with the industry, you could create better odds for attracting appropriate candidates.

2. Is the job description too general?

Not only do generic job postings tend to blend in with the masses, they don’t give the right candidates a motivating call to action. To create a posting that will target the top talent desired, it is helpful to first focus on the core, non-negotiable requirements these candidates need to have. Determine what this new employee should accomplish in their first six to twelve months. What skills will be most helpful in reaching those goals? Breaking down the skill set wish list into qualities a candidate must have, versus those you are willing to live without, allows you to be specific in the creation of a more effective job description. Highlighting the importance of a candidate’s certain expertise could entice top-notch talent to contribute to your organization. By emphasizing highly desired skills, and sharing expectations in your job description, you can better minimize interest from unqualified candidates.

3. Am I marketing the role correctly?

Regardless of the accuracy and intrigue of a job description, if it isn’t promoted to the most appropriate channels, its effectiveness could be compromised. Where is your desired top talent spending their time? By researching your audience, you can better determine the correct type of job boards, online communities, alumni groups and multitude of other options available for advertising your opening. Recruiters are an additional resource, with experience in different sectors, specializing in a variety of role placements. This could prove to be advantageous in promoting your job and placing the right candidate with you. The correct channel for a job posting is just as important as the correct message. By getting the word out to the appropriate places, the top talent you need has a better opportunity to see your message.

4. Am I communicating with my recruiter effectively?

When using a recruiter, they should know who you are looking for and where to find them. Sharing your full range of desired qualities, specific items to avoid, job responsibilities, and resumes of similar successful hires can all be useful tools to the recruiting process. Feedback on rejected resumes, or on candidates accepted for interviews, will provide insight that can be helpful to a more refined search. By keeping communication clear and ongoing between both parties, you give your recruiter better tools to work with in order for them to deliver the quality candidates you desire.

5. Is my company interesting enough?

Top talent can often be found juggling competing job offers. One of their key considerations may be whether or not a company is interesting enough to work for. You may be interesting. But, with so many startups and evolving firms in the marketplace innovating our world, are you interesting enough to win the talent competition? Spreading the right image for your company can help attract the type of employees you desire. If you are a startup gaining traction, prior success by your company’s founding team can increase a candidate’s confidence in the opportunity. By using the job description to highlight the interesting ideas your company is developing and how its structure keeps those ideas moving forward, you can give talented candidates a reason to move forward with you.

When you are dissatisfied with the caliber of talent that your current job postings are attracting, remember these five points. Be realistic with your expectations. Define the most valued skills for the candidate’s success. Research and target the right channels for your audience. Communicate with your search partners. And emphasize your company’s most interesting qualities. Taken together, this approach can help begin to minimize the frustration level of your hiring process.

With these tips we hope to help your job posting reach the eyes of the right canidates.

Sandy Bleich, Senior Partner at Millennium Search, has over 25 years of global experience as a technology executive. As a recruiter, clients and candidates have consistently recognized her as an excellent communicator and valued partner.

The Great Balancing Act: Selling the Position while Qualifying Passive Candidates

The Great Balancing Act: Selling the Position while Qualifying Passive Candidates

Qualifying Passive Candidates

Qualifying Passive Candidates

So, you may have found the perfect candidate for the job. You think this candidate has the skill set, expertise and experience you’re looking for and would be a strong cultural and environmental fit to your company. Time to start interviewing! But have you considered what the candidate thinks about you? If passive, the candidate is most likely qualifying your company more than an active candidate would. In order to leave his or her current position, the compensation as well as the culture, specifics of the job, company brand, and understood ability to make an impact should all be appealing.

When interviewing passive candidates, it is imperative for employers to qualify the candidate while also selling the company and position. This can be a difficult balancing act, one that many hiring founders, executives and managers have trouble executing. Sometimes, the employer focuses on their own assessments while neglecting what the candidate needs to know about the position and the company. Other times, it is the opposite – the employer sells a candidate who looks highly appealing without really determining if the fit is strong. In reality, the best passive hires for the C-level come from mutual interest and understanding between the candidate and the employer. Although this can be challenging to achieve, here are some ways to keep candidates attracted throughout the demanding interview process.

They Know Your Needs And Requirements; Make Sure You Know Theirs

You go to great lengths to make sure your needs and requirements align with the candidate’s abilities, skill sets, and experiences. Make a conscious effort to determine their needs and requirements, and make sure they are aware of you doing so. Candidates may be looking for more than just adequate compensation; consider the type of work, company culture, brand appeal, and opportunity for growth.

They Address Your Questions And Concerns; Make Sure You Address Theirs

Good qualification gets the right information from the candidate. Candidates should take the same philosophy, and interviewers should prepare themselves to answer candidate questions in detail and with as much transparency as possible. Just as the candidate should be selling him or herself to the interviewer, the opposite should also happen. Don’t only highlight the company’s good qualities or achievements, but be as honest with information as you can.

They Stay In Contact With You; Make Sure You Stay In Contact Too

Interviews are generally stressful, even for the most confident and well spoken people. Not every conversation needs to be a screening, nor should it be. Have genuine conversations with the candidate. Get their perspective on how things are proceeding. Ask about concerns, and clarify misunderstanding, misconceptions, and missing information. An open communication channel allows for both a stronger relationship and a better impression, which are both paramount when hiring at the C level.

They Prepare For Your Interviews; Make Sure You Prepare Them Too

Good interviews can (and should probably be) intense, but can leave candidates feeling like the process may not being going in their favor. Applying pressure and thorough selection and qualification is necessary, but doing so using unusual or unexpected methods may give the wrong impression. What can you do to help better prepare the candidate? Communicate clearly what the interview process looks like. When sending a candidate to a high pressure interview, tell them in advance and prep them accordingly. This not only allows the candidate to shine, but shows consideration towards them.

They Communicate Clearly And Effectively; Make Sure It Goes Both Ways

Check to be sure that communications from you are clear and convey what is important. Misunderstandings and miscommunications can create unnecessary points of stress and contention where none may even exist. The key to sending the right image of your company is found in how you communicate. Without clarity, the correct message may not get across, and that could deter the candidate from considering any offer.

Of Course, A Recruiter Can Help…

Because striking a balance between qualifying passive candidates and selling your company can be a challenge, many founders and executives find benefit in enlisting the help of a recruiter to manage the process. Good recruiters know how demanding this balancing act can be for employers. Hiring may not be the current priority at your company, which means managing candidate relationships can get put on the back-burner. Having a recruiter on your side gives you a dedicated resource to manage these important relationships, guide candidates through your interview and hiring process, and sell your organization while also helping to qualify for the right skill sets, experience, and fit.

Millennium Search considers managing relationships an integral part of Our Recruiting Process.

7 Reasons to Work at a Startup Early in Your Career

7 Reasons to Work at a Startup Early in Your Career

Work at a Startup

Where ever you look, there appears to be an emerging startup community. There are thousands of entrepreneurs pursuing new and innovative ideas, leveraging the latest and greatest technologies, and chasing the ultimate goal of creating something new, something cutting edge, something disruptive, and of course, something profitable. But make no mistake: The greatest resource for these emerging organizations is talent. Not surprisingly, it is also the scarcest resource. And if you are a young talented professional, you are in demand. But you may be wondering if working for a startup is a good choice for you. If you are a motivated self-starter who is willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever it takes to produce success, a startup can provide an exceptional opportunity for you in the early stage of your career. Here are 7 great reasons for young professionals to consider working for a startup company.

1. You Get To Learn From The Best.

Early in your career, your appetite for risk is higher, as well as the ability to absorb it. A startup is a great way to build up and develop your skill set quickly. Involvement if you work at a startup environment means direct access to decision makers that you just don’t get at a larger company. Unlike the startup, larger companies have management and executive layers that are too plentiful to give you input into the direction of the company. A startup exposes you to how executives work and provides greater visibility in terms of your own career growth within the company.

2. You Get To See and Touch The Whole Picture.

If you work at a startup, it introduces you to a broad range of functions. Usually, you are brought in to do X and this results in you having to also take on Y & Z. When a large organization brings you in to do X, you only get to do X. Furthermore, the ability to see how X interacts with Y & Z is not generally visible to you.

3. You Aren’t Held Back By Process or Politics.

A startup is a great opportunity to work in an environment that is not particularly bureaucratic. Most early to mid-stage startups are more dynamic in structure than larger corporations. Not only are they using agile development, but they are very agile in the way they manage the company.

4. You Can Still Get The Paycheck You Want.

One should never forget about the upside potential. Going into a startup, your chance to really make some money in the near term can far outweigh the length of time it would take to get to that point with a more established company. The risk is also reduced by today’s demand in the highly competitive talent market, further diminishing the likelihood of a sub par salary. You may need to trade cash bonuses for equity, but the days of taking a huge cut in your salary to work at a startup are gone. Startup employees are now in a good position to get the same kind of base salary a larger company would provide, but the possibility of you getting even more on the upside is significantly higher and quicker in an early stage company.

5. You Can Accelerate Your Career Growth

Startup experience increases your overall marketability, even to larger companies. They are looking for people who have startup work on their resume. When a larger company is doing something entrepreneurial, they value someone who has found a level of success in a startup environment. With this type of background, you can come in and infuse your entrepreneurial nature into the organization. When you demonstrate success in a very dynamic environment with high expectations, you increase your qualifications for more senior roles at other companies, both large and small.

6. You Get To Be Evolutionary And Revolutionary.

In general, startups task you with working on creating solutions that are fairly leading edge. You have the ability to develop and market new and interesting tools. You get the benefit of a clean slate, and pushing the envelope is encouraged. Larger companies tend to tie you into a legacy unless they take on a more entrepreneurial initiative, and even then, their overall brand looms in the background.

7. You Get The Chance To Fail.

The fact is, even if the startup does not do well, you are still highly marketable if you have been a successful individual contributor. Startups can fail due to funding, downsizing, poor management, or just plain bad luck. Larger companies, and other startups, know this. They are ready and willing to scoop up the savvy designers, developers, and marketers who did really good things for a startup that missed the mark. A startup’s failure doesn’t reflect negatively on you as a strong individual contributor. Startups help you develop a knowledge base and passion, which you can parlay into bigger and better opportunities.

If you are a person who dislikes ambiguity, needs structure, requires security and wants stability with one company for more than 5 years, startups are probably not the right comfort fit for you. But if you are flexible with an appetite for risk, going to work at a startup can be a very positive step early in your career.

3 Keys To Hiring a Passive Candidate

3 Keys To Hiring a Passive Candidate

Hiring a Passive Candidate

The top talent for your essential role is currently employed and not actively looking for other opportunities. These passive candidates are frequently approached with new opportunities by many tempting suitors. At Millennium Search, we run across this scenario on a regular basis, but we have identified several elements to address that lead to a higher rate of success. To ensure that you capture their attention and turn them into your employee, address these 3 key elements.

1. Define The Compromises You Can Make

Target your shortlist of non-negotiable skills that encompass the three or four that are core to the role. Narrowing down these essential skills allows you to remain flexible on the overall arsenal of experience a candidate holds. Having levers and a level of realism that finding perfection is a challenge will allow you to think outside the box. Without a targeted core skills list you might exclude a passive candidate from consideration because they don’t fit the full laundry list of desired criteria. But if this passive candidate excels in your core essentials and demonstrates a strong ability to quickly acquire more ancillary keys for success, they could be the right person for the job.

2. Be Quick To Engage The People You Like

Because you can more quickly identify that passive candidate as your leading candidate on paper, you can engage them more quickly than your competitors. The initial dialogue is key to acquiring talent, but more important is keeping the candidate engaged once an interest is expressed. Do not leave this candidate waiting. When a real star surfaces and it is evident they are “the one,” keep the communication prompt and flowing with requests for information and interviews. In addition to keeping them warm, it creates opportunities for you to re-qualify their interest level and gauge other opportunities they have under consideration. Waiting to see if the grass is greener with another pool of candidates increases the likelihood that you will lose the passive candidate altogether.

3. Be Prepared To Compensate

Often, your biggest competitor for the passive candidate is not one of the other companies soliciting offers. It is the candidate’s current employer. Such top talent is not going to be allowed to go quietly. You can be sure that a counter-offer will be presented as soon as yours is made. In this competitive market you cannot get away with paying less salary because of options and upside. To attract high quality, you need to be aware of market compensation and structure your compensation package accordingly. A strong salary with options and a bonus will allow the candidate to resign without second thoughts.

Preparation is paramount when targeting the passive candidate. Before you do anything else, you must set the key skills for your role to recognize the variables that you can be open with. This allows you to quickly identify talented passive candidates to target them before others can. Being ready with your qualifying process gives you the ability to be swift and constant during engagement. And doing your research on market compensation gives the passive candidate the confidence to join your team, regardless of their current employer’s efforts to retain them.

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