Two times in one day I heard a reference to a new employer perk . . .making student debt payments for employees. How awesome is that?
A more traditional benefit offered by many companies is a tuition reimbursment plan, also known as a tuititon assistance plan. With these plans, a company specifies the terms under which it will pay for an eligible employee’s continuing education. Because these plans can be costly, they have been offered by larger and well-established companies. For many employers, particularly small and mid-sized companies and start-ups, these plans have been out of reach due to cost. What is also critical to these plans is having employees that want to continue their education.
What if an employer wants to offer an educational-related benefit but cost is an issue. Or what if the employer has employees that have already completed their educations?
So, what is an employer to do? Especially one that wants to not only attract but retain talent?
A loan repayment assistance plan, also known as a student debt repayment plan. Under these plans, the employer provides a specified amount to pay the student loans of eligible employees. These plans are especially attractive for employees that have completed their education and are repaying student loans.
Consider adding this perk to your compensation plan. It may be well received by candidates and help attract and retain great talent.
Believe it or not, compensation is negotiable at all levels of workers and for all skills. Being extended an offer of employment should not be a “yes” or “no” proposition. Most people are not good at negotiating and most certainly not at negotiating their compensation. Step out of your comfort zone and advocate for yourself. Don’t enter a negotiation with wishy washy terms. Be prepared. Be clear. Be specific. Know your value. Know what you want. Ask for it. You can’t get a, “No,” unless you ask.
The most important point of an effective negotiation is to know what you want with a clearly defined low end and high end of what you will accept. Be prepared to walk away if you don’t achieve the low end of your range – don’t settle. If you got this offer, you will get another. Don’t get greedy if you are closer to the high end of what you want. As with all negotiations, start high and leave yourself room to negotiate. If you know what you want you can present with confidence which can work in your favor.
Know what your skill is worth. There are so many resources available to you to do your homework – very credible websites provide this information, recruiters and staffing agencies provide this information, some published job descriptions may give you a good idea of value.
Keep in mind, also, that compensation is not the same as salary. Salary is but one element of compensation. Do you want to work remotely? Do you want a flexible schedule? Do you want other perks, including more paid time off, a higher contribution to benefits, educational assistance, among others.
Don’t negotiate in piece meal. Lay it all out at the start. If you get one thing and then start asking for something else, at some point your potential employer is going to get weary and lose interest. And you are going to lose credibility.
Justify your ask. Be able to sell to your prospective employer why you think you are worth what you are asking.
More companies are using informal meetings as one of the first steps of their hiring process.
An informal meeting is more of a meet and greet. It is generally held out of the office in a casual setting – in a coffee shop or the like. The real goal of an informal meeting is that you get to know the personal side of your candidate – a/k/a their soft skills, and they get to know you as a person out of the office.
If you are meeting your candidate in an informal meeting, keep it informal. That’s the point, remember. Dress more casually because how we dress usually influences how we posture ourselves and how we speak. If we wear formal work clothes we will behave more formally and if we wear more casual work clothes we will behave more informally. Don’t pepper the candidate with (tough) questions, particularly technical questions. Ask questions in a lighter, more casual way. Rephrase “tell me about the last time you used XXXX technology” to “have you used XXX technology recently and what was your experience with it?” You might not want to meet for a lunch because the stress of what to order and to not make a mess can overcome the casual intent. As with any interview, end it with clear actionable items – who is doing what and by when.
Another instance for which an out of office meeting is appropriate is when you are in the last phase of the hiring process with a candidate and there are final questions or there is concern about a cultural fit. You may have vetted the candidate’s technical skills but have concern about his/her ability to thrive in your organization. In this case, it may be a good solution to meet out of the office and see your candidate in different way.
As we move further into this candidate driven market, your candidate may request to meet you out of the office to meet you in a different environment. Be open to the idea and accept the invitation.
It is critical to remember that these informal meetings are interviews and you must be careful to not ask unlawful questions or otherwise conduct yourself in an unlawful way.
If you are in any way associated with hiring, you most certainly have heard these phrases: talent shortage and skills gap. What do these terms really mean? They really mean we are in a candidate driven market. When you hear it said that way – repeat, a candidate driven market – it should make you take pause and think about the issue in a different way. If you are hiring or plan to hire, you must adapt to this phenomenon otherwise you are not going to secure the talent you need to not only sustain but to grow your business.
Many have responded to this talent shortage or skills gap by rethinking how they find talent. They think they need to cast a wider net to find the talent. They go to new/more/different job boards. They embellish job ads. They launch a career site. They work with more recruiters. They hire recruiters. They launch a referral program.
Even after doing all of these things, if you have positions that you are not filling, it may be because you should (re)consider how to attract talent.
You need to take pause and think about what it means to be in a candidate driven market.
You need to approach your hiring recognizing you are in a candidate driven market which may be very different from how you approach your hiring in a market characterized by a talent shortage and skills gap.
You must adapt to a candidate driven market.
Why must you adapt?
In a candidate driven market candidates, candidates:
- Are solicited regularly by multiple interested parties.
- Have multiple opportunities from which to pick their next move.
- Have more negotiating leverage.
- Are more apt to change jobs if their current job is not fulfilling.
How do you adapt?
Give the candidate a great experience and sell your organization.
- Be prepared for interviews. Don’t make them wait for the interviewers. Have the right people available for the interviews. Have the room ready for the interview. Make sure the interviewers are not interrupted and make sure they know to leave their technology behind so they can focus exclusively on the candidate.
- Provide timely and relevant feedback on their interview.
- Stay in contact and keep them apprised of their candidacy.
- Don’t keep cancelling and rescheduling.
- Bring out the person not just the candidate – ask them relevant questions focused on them and not just questions focused only on their ability to do your job or function in your organization.
- Answer their questions. The answers should be clear and not ambiguous. If you can’t answer the question, be sure to timely follow-up with the answer.
- Know your company. Know the pain points, know the areas of opportunity. Know where the company wants to be in short term horizons – 2 years, 5 years. Know the challenges that your candidate will face. Present your company in a matter of fact way and not with vagueness, uncertainty.
- Move fast – make a decision. If you find a candidate that you think can succeed in your role in your organization, don’t take that old position, “I just want to meet a few more candidates to make sure.”
- Be flexible. Recognize that each candidate is a unique person and be open to their individual requirements. For some, a flexible schedule may be important, or richer benefits, or more time off, or more education/training opportunities. Find out what drives and motivates each candidate and address it.
- Offer great perks. Some interesting perks are coming into existence – nap rooms, game rooms, personal chefs.
- Sell your company. Don’t think that candidates need to sell you. You need to sell them. If you aren’t, someone else is. Remember, the candidate probably has choices.
In a candidate driven market, it doesn’t matter how many candidates you find. If you can’t attract them, they are not going to want to work for your organization. So, stop thinking talent shortage and skills gap and how you can you find talent. Start thinking candidate driven market and how you can attract talent.
It may be disputable just how long into meeting a candidate you know if they are a cultural fit for your organization, but it is fair to say it is a short amount of time – minutes. But, once you are meeting a candidate, are you committed to the interview? What about the others scheduled to meet with that candidate right after you? Is it rude to end the interview or should you continue and consume your valuable time and that of your co-workers? What about the candidate’s time, which is equally valuable.
Most organizations have a pre-screening process in place that hopefully is effective in moving forward candidates that possess the critical soft skills to thrive in their organization and in a specific role. It may happen that a candidate makes it to this stage of the hiring process, so best to be prepared.
End the interview out of fairness to all, including the candidate, you and those scheduled to interview the candidate. This situation can be very difficult because the candidate may be genuinely interested in your opportunity and may be trying very hard to compete for the offer.
Tell the candidate that although they have a great background and great skills (otherwise they would not have gotten this far in your pre-screening process), you do not think your organization is the best match for them overall and it is not in either of your interests to continue the interview. You may even consider mentioning in which area(s) the candidate is not strong enough for further consideration – you need an real extrovert, you need a visibly confident leader, you need someone with less energy . . .
What is important is that you are honest and polite and gracious and allow the candidate to leave with dignity. Just because that person is not a fit for your organization should not diminish their value to another organization.