Well, it matters, but with the right technique you can make up for a lack of size in many cases if client is willing…

The prevailing market wisdom is that the best candidates will go to the big companies and the smaller (SMEs, start-ups, trading companies, privately held firms) companies are left with what is left. This is not always the case and it can make a huge difference in the long run for your firm to get the best people now.

We placed a candidate today in a small start-up here in Shanghai. She was being courted by some of the biggest brands in the business. She had the skills to pay the bills and is in the highly competitive luxury retail market.

Did they close her with a huge offer?Was it the generous stock options?How did they do it?

The answer was a combination of great interviewing, a fair offer that was structured well, and speed, and stretch.

Great Interviewing
My client understood that they needed to move the process along quickly in order to make the placement happen and they took the time to find out about the candidate and make sure she met the right people in the right order and was able to have the right conversations. They sold the candidate on their vision while they found out about hers. If this sounds like your process you are well above average. If this sounds like touchy feely new age, candidate coddling mumbo jumbo then move to the back of the line. In this market it is important to treat the candidates like guests and make sure that they can see their place in your company. If you are in a big company and have the power of the brand behind you you will still find this approach helpful in those cases (and they are growing) where you can’t seem to find anyone to do the job.

A Fair Offer
The client took the time and had the flexibility to structure an offer that included options, a fair base salary with a housing component (so the candidate can save taxes and increase take home pay) and a healthy bonus based on performance. They did not have to “throw money” at the candidate or enter a bidding war. The candidate appreciated their flexibility and was able to see that they wanted her onboard. The end result was a market salary that did not break the bank, though it was a bit higher than the client wanted to pay and a bit lower than the candidate wanted in the beginning. A true compromise.

The client had the ability to learn from past mistakes and made the effort necessary to get the managers together to meet the candidate and were able to finish their internal interviewing and evaluation in less than two weeks. If you want to get great passive candidates on board you need to move. Not too fast, NOT TOO SLOW, just keep it moving. There were other offers and a promotion on the way and my client acted quickly in order to close the candidate. The best way to avoid a bidding war and a long negotiation is to move the process along and offer a candidate in a period of time that does not allow for other opportunities to crop up.

Great candidates want great jobs and in this case the candidate wanted more responsibility in a specific professional area and because the client is flexible and able to make adjustments to the org chart and add responsibilities to make the job more attractive. In the business we call this stretch. My parents would call it common sense. This can be a real issue with large companies and can make the difference when recruiting top passive candidates. Many small companies take advantage of their flexibility to tweak responsibilities and give the candidates the stretch they need to grow their careers. Most top candidates realize this stretch in responsibility can be as valuable in the long run as a big company name on their resume and it is the wise small company that capitalizes on this.

So What?

It is a great thing to see a small company recruit in such a way as to beat out the much larger competition and get the candidate they need to help grow their company. Recruiting is not a art and focusing on the process and the policies you have in place can make the difference between getting the candidates you need and asking for more resumes.

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