Writer: Max Crampton-Thomas
2 min read August 2021 — SkyWater Search Partners Co-Founder and Partner Paul Beard spoke to Invest: about labor demand in the changing landscape and the long-term changes to hiring that could result. “For companies that are unwilling to show flexibility around a hybrid working model, they may be at risk of losing some of their employees due to them wanting to continue working from home,” he said.
What is your approach to the talent market and what positions are in greatest demand given the changing landscape?
We are unique and different from most executive search firms in the sense that we have practice groups set up to support every function of the company. Our niche is the placement of salaried personnel in the areas of IT, Accounting & Finance, HR, Engineering & Operations, Legal, Marketing and Sales. There are other firms that specialize in the placement of temporary staffing solutions or hourly-rate contractors but we don’t do that. We are having to turn away business in certain cases due to the current demand in the market for talent. The positions in highest demand tend to be technical in nature. Many companies try to build out their own internal recruiting teams to reduce their external spend with companies such as ours. In many cases, these talent acquisition teams do a nice job. With that said, they are spread thin due to the demand and oftentimes will outsource work to a firm like ours due to not being able to identify the talent they want or simply being overloaded with volume. The last time I saw demand for talent similar to this was the period of time leading up to Y2K. The current demand is greater than that time period and I didn’t think it could happen again, let alone be greater.
How are employees looking to maximize their opportunities?
Over 90% of the people that we place are employed right now. In most cases, these people are not actively looking to make a job change but are willing to take a call from people in my industry if there is an opportunity that aligns better with their career aspirations. While pay is important, I’ve noticed over the past 12 months that it is less important than some of the other things on their priority list such as culture and work/life balance. Due to the war on talent in the market, many companies are showing flexibility in an effort to attract the talent they want. Employees who are very good at their craft are in high demand and this market is allowing them some nice options to leverage their skills into a better opportunity. This demand has led to countless conversations with our clients (the companies that we represent) to recognize that their interview process needs to be efficient and streamlined and they may need to spend some time courting prospective people that they like because these people oftentimes have multiple options in front of them.
What are going to be the long-term changes with regard to hiring practices?
The pandemic has forced companies to look at how to operate from a different lens. Over the past 15 months, many people have worked from home and have enjoyed it a lot. Companies will need to look carefully at what positions are truly required at the office, which ones can work from home on a full time basis and which ones can be under a hybrid model. I think this will evolve over time and companies will need to learn to adapt to the needs of the people who have the background requirements that they want. I don’t foresee a huge change in hiring practices but I believe you will see more flexibility on behalf of the company.
In what ways does SkyWater Search Partners distinguish itself from its competitors?
It all starts with our people. If we don’t have the right team members in place, it will impact our ability to deliver results with our clients. As such, we are very thorough in regards to who we hire into our company. If it means we have to wait six to nine months to find the right person, we will. We are currently hiring in all of our practice groups and are providing a $10,000 referral bonus to any employee in our company who can bring us a person whom we hire. Equally important is creating an environment and culture that is authentic because that is the glue to keep the talent. We have a servant leadership type of approach and have worked tirelessly to create a collaborative environment where people’s voices are heard and making sure that they matter. This approach has worked really well for us and it has allowed us to attract and retain great people. These people have allowed us to grow year-over-year and distance the gap between us and our closest competitors in the market in terms of revenue and placements made per year. To provide a little color on this, our revenue for 2Q21 was greater than our two prior largest quarters combined. We work nationally; however, our core specialization is in the Twin Cities. In the next 12 to 18 months, we do not see a lot changing in the economy. The key to success in our industry is about driving meaningful results and having your word be good. If those two things occur, hiring manager’s (clients) walk away feeling good about the process and come back when another need arises.
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