In this Endeavor Masterclass we brought on Melissa Davis, Founder of Elev8 Hire Solutions & Endeavor Mentor, to give us insight on the best hiring practices for start-ups and established companies alike.
“Simply put, we just don’t have enough talent to go around,” warns Davis at the start of the Masterclass. Davis speaks with stark certainty, not only as a hiring expert, but also as a founder.
In 2021 we saw the Great Resignation when the workforce experienced a massive turnover in unemployment as the talent pool reevaluated their priorities. At the same time, venture funding broke records when investments reached more than ten times what they were a decade earlier. “Between the [pandemic] and the uptick in startups and opportunities, there isn’t enough talent. There just isn’t”.
For entrepreneurs, the right hiring strategy will be crucial to building their brand in a new job marketplace ripe for innovative approaches.
Hiring for Scale
That best strategy is Hiring for Scale. Davis emphasizes that employers will need to focus on finding top talent that can be trained in the necessary skills later. “You should hire for potential rather than the perfect fit”, as she puts it. This does not mean sacrificing quality, but rather being flexible on the hard skills of the talent.
For Davis, hiring is a lot like acquiring new customers. “Employers need a Talent Acquisition Strategy as strong as their Customer Acquisition Strategy”, she suggests. Clearly it should be taken just as seriously.
The Value Proposition
Employers should ask themselves what talent is looking for today. Davis asks the audience, “Why would a happily employed person leave to come work for you?”. Consider what your company offers in:
- Wellbeing initiatives
- Autonomy and flexibility
According to LinkedIn, searches for remote work are up 357%. Burnout is being cited more and more by job seekers, says Davis. “If you’re not offering [remote options and wellbeing initiatives] you are falling behind the other attractive employers in town”.
Optimize job titles. “I see a lot of homegrown titles being used. You don’t want to do that because it confuses the market”, cautions Davis.
Brand identity shouldn’t be an afterthought. Not a company summary but why you do it, your purpose. “Tell [applicants] what they are going to learn, teach, own. These are really what’s most important to them,” she specifies. If employers can give prospective employees an idea of what they will bring to the brand then they will see more applicants.
Salary ranges and benefits are not necessary, but candidates really want it. It can be tricky to list benefits for a start-up, so do what is best for your company.
The objective of screening in this marketplace has been flipped. Now it’s about assessing their needs, not yours. “It sounds backwards”, Davis admits, “but that’s just the way the market is positioned”. Great candidates don’t need you like you need them. They want to understand how they fit into your ecosystem. Ask what you can offer them and what they can offer you. “With screening … it’s like you need to marry them before you date”.
She also suggests avoiding jumping to conclusions about job tenure, industry expertise and degrees. The marketplace has changed, so keep in mind that there might be good reasons for some of these things to seem out of place. More of that flexibility Davis keeps driving home.
Employers need to create a systematic process for evaluation during the interview process. Don’t lean on reaction and feeling. Instead, Davis recommends creating a scorecard and ranking systems. Decide on your must-haves and the areas where you can compromise ahead of time.
Who’s interviewing matters a lot. The interviewers should know the process that you’ve established ahead of time. If possible, include the interviewer in the creation of the process so that they thoroughly understand the evaluation you are looking for.
Focus on soft skills, behavioral traits, and personality. When Hiring for Scale, it’s all about getting the right person and sorting the hard skills later.
Extending the Offer
Her advice is simple for negotiating: go in strong and go in fair. “This is not the market to lowball, there is too much competition to play that game”, says Davis. She recommends leading with your best offer and being clear about the terms well before the actual offer. “You don’t want surprises at the end”.
Melissa Davis has been an entrepreneur in the business of hiring for over a decade, but the challenges of today’s marketplace are a new experience even for her. In her Endeavor Masterclass, she covers these challenges in greater detail tackling subjects like employee demographics, sourcing, branding, onboarding, and internal recruiters. “When fighting for top talent you need to create an ecosystem that works for them”.