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Tips for Adjusting Your Hiring Practices During the Great Rehire

Hiring and retaining talent in today’s environment is no easy feat. Candidates are commanding higher salaries and employees are flocking to companies who offer more flexibility and security. This, compounded with new fears of an economic downturn or recession mean that it’s more important than ever to hire the right people at the right time.

The environment is changing

Navigating the modern and ever-evolving hiring landscape as a startup leader can be daunting. In order to stay competitive in today’s market, companies need to rethink their hiring strategies. We gathered a few tactics from our portfolio CEOs and in-house experts to help you as you rethink your approach to hiring. 

It’s still a candidates’ market

Despite the fear of an upcoming economic downturn and recent wave of tech layoffs, we believe that the power still rests with job-seekers. The influx of venture capital funding for startups in 2021 undoubtedly led to an increase in job openings. But during the same time, more and more qualified candidates were choosing to remain voluntarily unemployed, leading to the labor imbalance that we still see today. 

In this wildly competitive environment, weeks- or months-long hiring cycles no longer work. According to research done by Glassdoor, 17.3%—or one in six job offers extended—are rejected, a number that has been steadily increasing since the beginning of the pandemic. Candidates are receiving multiple offers at much faster rates and have shown that they are comfortable “ghosting” companies who don’t move fast enough. 

Candidates’ needs have changed

In addition to changes in the hiring market, candidates' priorities have also continued to evolve. More and more, candidates are placing a higher premium on flexibility at work as well as non-monetary forms of compensation (think benefits and work-life balance). In fact, Harvard Business Review’s hybrid work survey showed that 59% of knowledge workers around the world rank flexibility higher than salary or benefits. 

Tactics to improve your hiring strategy 

At a recent Emergence CEO forum, we asked our portfolio company CEOs how they are approaching the new era of hiring. To help you improve your strategy, we distilled a few tactical takeaways to consider:  

  • Plan earlier. If you are intending to make an executive hire in Q4, the process should be kicked off in Q2 of that year. Factor in time for sourcing, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding (three to nine months) before they are productive. 
  • Prioritize business-critical roles. As we enter a downturn, think deeper about which roles are critical to running your business and generating revenue. Re-evaluate less-critical roles to preserve cash and focus on profitability. 
  • Embrace remote work. According to Oyster’s 2022 Employee Expectations Report, technology workers increasingly favor a remote/hybrid work environment. To help ease the adjustment, Emergence portfolio company Oyster built an entire team dedicated to remote work. This group is responsible for ensuring operational alignment across remote teams, which includes procuring remote-friendly tools and creating opportunities for teammates to meet and get to know each other remotely. 
  • Rethink your benefits package. Does your package offer competitive time off and work flexibility? Remember that cash compensation is no longer king and you may be able to offer desirable non-cash benefits to stay competitive and save on costs. 
  • Prioritize the candidate experience. In today’s competitive market, it’s important to overcommunicate with candidates in your interview process. Since offers are moving faster than ever, make sure you’re in constant contact so that you’re able to act quickly if a candidate receives a competitive offer. Similarly important is making sure the interview process is professional. Make sure your interviewers are prepared and show up on time. 
  • Move fast. While we believe companies should stay true to their evaluation processes, it’s important to consolidate interview steps to capitalize on momentum and get to an informed hiring decision quickly. 
  • Get creative. Several Emergence portfolio companies have come up with creative retention tactics that also serve as good employer brand marketing. Salesloft offers a six-week sabbatical after six or more years of employment. Project44 offers Roameo campervans for team members to work from anywhere while traveling the world. Oftentimes, these minimal investments into something novel go miles in terms of recognition. 
  • Talk about performance. So many people are leaving companies for the promise of higher pay, bigger titles, and more responsibilities. For a company to attract the right talent or keep the talent they have, they need to be more transparent about the performance culture during the interview process. 
  • Create a thoughtful new hire experience. Once you’ve made an offer, find ways to include your new hire in team activities before their first day. A few of our portfolio companies invite new hires to happy hours before they start so they can meet people ahead of time. At Project44, CEO Jett McCandless shares a blurb about each new hire to the entire company via email or all hands on their first day. 

The hiring landscape is changing every day. Continue to iterate on your strategy and process in order to stay competitive and hit your hiring targets. 

Thank you to our Head of Talent, Tammy Han and our Go-to-Market Partner, Doug Landis for contributing their thoughts to this piece. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you have any questions while building your hiring plan for the rest of 2022 and beyond.