Navigating the “New Normal” Post-Pandemic Talent Acquisition

As the world adjusts to a post-pandemic business more or less as usual, it’s important to explore how disruptive and evolved the practice of attracting, hiring and retaining top talent has become. More importantly, though, is knowing what talent acquisition hurdles this new environment presents and how to best navigate them.  

In the last year or so, we have seen organizations – large and small – coming back very strong only to find the hiring landscape has fundamentally changed. How so?

  • Compensation requirements are often significantly higher
  • Candidates are often entertaining two or three offers concurrently and shopping them around 
  • A renewed focus on talent retention, even at the time of resignation. In fact, we are seeing companies make never-seen-before counter offers to entice talent to stay, albeit this is a “band aid” solution

As the post-pandemic era collides with the dynamics of the broader economy, the higher-than-market value compensation packages and the shopping around of offers is anticipated to be relatively sharp, shallow and short-term. A sentiment that is shared by the majority of clients with whom Med Talent engages. This scenario presents a bit of a step change for organizations as well as an opportunity to reassess and become more discriminating about talent they onboard at this time. For many organizations, particularly those that are PE and VC backed, there is the added consideration for the impact of what hiring high could mean when it comes time for additional rounds of funding. As such, firms are becoming more hesitant. With greater frequency, we are seeing rounds of funding that require more ownership for less cash commitment. 

So that’s one very specific way for organizations to address compensation, but what about attracting, hiring and retaining top talent? 

We spend considerable effort sharing market data with our clients. Where typical market data is already about a year late at best, due to the significant number of roles we fill in commercial healthcare, our data presents an exceptionally clear picture at this moment in time. And what it shows us is that what it will take to get the position filled now is sometimes fundamentally different than it was a year and half ago and goes beyond compensation. 

These current hiring hurdles are nothing more than obstacles. Unlike hurdles, you don’t have to go over them to win the race, or to seal the deal with a candidate. Our advice to clients is rather than seeing them as obstacles, look at them as an opportunity to evaluate and adjust hiring practices and, importantly, the candidate experience throughout the hiring process. Here are some of the strategies that have proven incredibly effective in attracting qualified candidates and keeping them engaged throughout the hiring process

  1. Checking outside the checkbox: A hiring entity should assess the state of the market today and be clear about the desired level of experience they are searching for. That said, and particularly for organizations on a fixed budget — as is the case with most organizations — the senior established heavy weight talent that checks all the boxes may be out of range. When a client is open to a candidate who may not be as senior but who has the right skill set, attitude, and experience, that individual is often hungrier, more ambitious, more innovative and she or he can grow into and thrive in the position for which the job was originally specked 
  2. Fanatical dedication to candidate experience: A critical element of a successful search is the candidate experience. So many opportunities are won and lost on whether or not the logistical elements that orient a candidate to the organization’s culture and convey the value of the company. It’s what we call being “fanatically operationalized.” In other words, every step of the process from first contact to offer to acceptance are timely, and surprises are eliminated by making sure the candidate knows they have a point of contact throughout the process whether she or he is junior level or C-suite. This is a critical operational element that has proven to promote and drive success 
  3. Client and candidate both are selling and buying: The hiring process is not simply a company evaluating the candidate or the candidate selling herself or himself during the span of an interview. Both sides need to be selling until the decision is made to move forward with an offer. This does not replace the need for careful diligence by both company and candidate. Good companies are spending more on making sure that every element of the process is honed and utilized to maintain or sharpen interest from the candidate 
  4. The little things are big things: Never underestimate the benefit and power of the little things. In a recent GM search, the CEO followed up with the candidate by sending a handwritten note and several items from the company. The candidate accepted and both parties are exceptionally happy. While the gesture may seem small, they buy a tremendous amount of good will and they do an excellent job of conveying the company culture, from the top down
  5. Honest evaluation: What good companies will do, once the search is completed, is a thorough and honest self-evaluation. The evaluation documents and scores major attributes of the process. This collected data is used to identify where to take action and make changes in the process, if and as needed

Med Talent and our clients operate exclusively in the world of commercial healthcare, which makes it even more critically important that candidates — even those not selected — have been provided with an exceptional experience. A positive experience and word of mouth can serve an organization well, especially in a global space that can be incredibly small depending on the industry sub-set. Keep in mind that candidates today have more choices than ever. Being able to not just speak to the company culture, but to convey it at every turn will give a candidate a clear picture of the company and as the hiring entity, you will know that you have done everything to screen and hire the candidate that will fill and execute the responsibilities of the position, and who will thrive in your organization as a solid cultural fit.