Determining fact from fiction is harder than ever in a socially connected and digital world. Add to that a common global experience - like a pandemic - and we certainly have a lot to talk about!

Here in the executive recruitment and leadership business, we have heard plenty of fiction about how this year has impacted executive recruiting and organizational design. That’s why Boyden Executive Search is kicking off a new myth-busting series.

Over the coming weeks, we will be calling out the assumptions we are hearing and leverage our data, insights and experiences to validate or refute the facts. Each week, we will dive a little deeper into the topics below. Along the way, we welcome your questions, comments and any new topics you would like us to explore.  Let’s begin:

Myth: It is a buyer’s market for talent - candidates will be dying to get this role.

ActuallyThe prevalence of pandemic-related furlough and unemployment rates may create more competition and selection at the manager level and below, but it remains a seller’s market for the best talent in the executive ranks. Strong leadership is hard to find, attract and keep and now, perhaps more than ever, the best talent is used to being heavily courted. With boomer retirements in progress, tech unicorns scooping up the A-players, and hiring decision-makers’ expectations always ascending, organizations will have to up their game to woo talent.

As far back as the 90s, influencers in people and culture have been talking about the “war for talent.” In those days, despite the dot com bubble and fears of a demographic cliff of retirements, it would have been impossible to predict just how much power would shift into the hands of top talent. Welcome to 2021, where a global pandemic has opened up a world of opportunities to employees who can literally work anywhere, from the comfort of their own home. Extraordinary times always expose the need for greater capacity or capability, but the competition for talent has just become much more fierce. 

Organizations that have faced the quarterly pressures of shareholders or experienced adversity in their past are no strangers to the war for talent. Securing the right talent, measuring their performance in a sophisticated fashion, and retaining them with modern rewards programs has proven to be a winning strategy for weathering strong headwinds. On the flip side, organizations that have been lucky enough to spend less time on their toes - legacy brands, the public sector, and institutional organizations - may be less prepared for battle.

One of Boyden’s clients, a legacy retailer with no e-commerce capability prior to the pandemic, is a good example of an organization thrust into the heart of this war. Having to rapidly create a digital channel painfully exposed the lack of an internal e-commerce leader - and it demonstrated an absence of savvy around what it takes to attract and close on one. As you might imagine, competing for e-commerce talent in a global pandemic is no small feat, and it required a very different, aggressive and thoughtful approach to acquiring it.  

This company and many others have learned that the characteristics that suggest an enterprise is an “employer of choice” are now table stakes for candidates. From a company’s financial position to its brand, vision, employee programs and pace of salary increases, candidates have high expectations from their work and its culture. 

Today, competing in the war for talent begins in the recruitment process. As organizations prepare to replace their aging workforce, respond to new market demands driven by the pandemic, or compete with global companies for great talent, they should be aware of new expectations from candidates in the selection process and beyond: 

As more baby boomers transition into board roles and organization’s continue to compete for a next generation of talent, the wooing process will become that much more important. While it's easy enough to pay lip service to the tips above, what’s most important is that an organization is showing itself authentically. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it certainly needs to demonstrate clearly and genuinely that it’s trying to be. 

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