5 Things Employers of Choice Understand About Hiring Top Procurement Talent

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Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Nick Lazzara and Naseem Malik, of MRA Global Sourcing.

In our last two articles, we discussed how companies can become employers of choice and then explored the top industries and firms that star procurement talent have taken interest in. Now in this third and final piece, we share our insights on what these employers of choice do to attract top performers.

According to a June New York Times article, “We may be closer to full employment than it seemed.” Data from the May jobs report indicate this may be as good as it can get for the U.S. labor. Why? Slowed job growth, with 121,000 new positions as the three-month average, and an all-time low of 4.3% for the unemployment rate — not because more people are finding work but because of modest wage increases and a labor force that has been shrinking for the last few years.

This dynamic is particularly apparent in the executive, managerial and professional job market, where many companies are expanding but struggling to locate enough skilled talent. In the procurement sector, the lack of skilled talent is further complicated by top candidates who are ultraselective ,fielding and rejecting many job offers in search of the greenest of pastures.

So as a hiring authority in the procurement function, what can you do to improve your odds of bringing in the talent that you need?

The 2017 Hiring Sentiment Study conducted by MRINetwork reveals that the inability to find quality talent is driven by lengthy hiring practices, lower-than-expected compensation and an employer sentiment that candidates should feel honored to be considered for their job opportunities. Retention is also challenging, as high performers recognize more jobs are available and feel more confident about pursuing them.

Based on the study’s findings, procurement employers of choice understand these five hiring insights better than their competitors.

1. Top Companies Understand that it Really is a Candidate-Driven Market

The job market of the Great Recession is long gone. According to MRI’s survey, a majority of search firms and candidates feel that the professional labor market is candidate driven in most industry sectors. The reality is the best candidates have multiple job options, so your value proposition must clearly articulate how coming on board would benefit their career. Assuming that candidates should feel lucky to be invited for an interview with your company is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made when trying to attract “A players.”

2. Compensation has Become the Deciding Factor for High Performers

Advancement opportunities and competitive compensation packages are two of the most important factors to candidates looking for a job. Over 50% of candidates in MRI’s survey selected strong remuneration packages most often, followed by positions with clear growth plans, suggesting that compensation is the deciding factor when considering a new job. Similarly, poor compensation was also one of the primary reasons an offer was rejected, along with why candidates accept another offer. Ultimately, the money needs to be good enough to convince high performers to leave their current employers.

3. Rejected Job Offers Matter in a Talent-Short Economy

We typically find that offer rejection percentages range 1% to 10%. While this may seem small, it is far from trivial. Every bit of lost talent matters when there is a shortage of qualified candidates.

One major reason for offer rejections is the interview process itself. It’s critical to provide a streamlined and positive interview process that keeps applicants informed of where they stand every step of the way. Most important, everyone on the interviewing team should provide consistent messaging about the role and clearly articulate why your company culture and values make it an enviable place to work.

As we’ve seen in our work, progressive companies are conscientious about the “candidate experience.” The HR team for one of our retail clients is adamant that their procurement business partners are consistent in the messaging and feedback when it comes to the candidates, as they feel that represents an extension of the company and its brand in the marketplace. The procurement team has even partnered with us to improve how they assess candidate soft skills when it comes to negotiating with suppliers and collaborating with a diverse and global set of stakeholders.

4. Workplace Expectations Have Changed

Today’s top performers want more out of life than the standard 9-to-5, in-office work scenario. Fifty-five percent of surveyed candidates said work-from-home options are somewhat to extremely important to them. Additionally, an “emphasis on work-life balance” was the second most selected attribute by candidates that are contemplating a job move this year.

While the tendency may be to think that candidates want to work less, or that working from home will decrease productivity, top talent wants to work more efficiently, any time and from any place. Providing this flexibility is not only attracts prospective hires but also creates the potential for happier, engaged employees who feel their work obligations do not overshadow personal interests and obligations.

It will be interesting to see how this trend evolves. While employees have come to embrace a flexible work style, some companies — most notably IBM, a pioneer of the remote workforce — are curtailing their offsite employee footprint, citing a need for more productive for idea generation and collaboration that requires their employees to be in the same room.

5. Top Companies are Prepared for Upcoming Surge in Baby Boomers Retirements

Unlike other companies that say they’re not prepared to deal with baby boomer departures, the smarter ones have been planning to deal with this impending surge for the past few years. They have been working on programs that will retain baby boomers to alleviate the pressure of managing the flow of tribal knowledge they possess. They have realized that organizations that are able to prioritize succession planning and career pathing by making it part of their company culture will be better able to respond to changing employee demographics over the next several years.

When you consider these five hiring insights, it’s clear how they may be affecting your ability to attract top talent in an already tight candidate market. The hiring landscape and candidate expectations have changed. Procurement teams that want to attract and retain the best people will need to revisit their interviewing and talent management approaches to position themselves as a great place to work.

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