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17 July-2019

7 Job Perks Ranked: How Companies Win the Talent War with the Right Offer

Companies in the Triangle region of North Carolina (and across the country!) are evaluating every competitive factor at their disposal when taking on the task of recruiting new hires. In this nationwide candidates’ market, finding and then successfully acquiring top team members is a significant challenge. We absolutely are seeing that ‘talent war” dynamic impacting the world of sales and marketing recruiting as well.

 Hiring managers, along with internal and external recruiters, are trying to figure out how to get the best possible people into the interview process, as well as how to put together the most attractive offers possible. There’s very little more frustrating in the world of talent acquisition than losing an ideal hire at package negotiation phase. When you’re fighting a war like this one, you often find yourself thinking: “How do I compensate, incentivize, and shore myself up against our prized recruit(s) landing a more eye-catching offer? Am I doing and saying the right things?” Companies and recruiters are feeling understandably uncertain about where they stand and how to close. 

Instead of overthinking, focus tightly on the key factors in the recruiting process that you can control. If you’re seeking out the best available job candidates in Raleigh, Durham, and beyond, here are the seven most crucial talent war components — in priority order.

  1. Salary. If someone is happily employed, he or she is not likely to leave a position for the same (or less) money. While that may occur on occasion, it’s usually due to an atypical, extenuating factor — relocation driven by spousal/family reasons, for example. In a candidate-powered market, those looking to transition are going to expect to augment earnings potential with any job change. As a result, if you’re hoping to lure top new team members away from other companies, be prepared to pull the compensation lever as your first tactic in the negotiation process. You may very well have to outbid! 
  2. Benefits. When choosing between two employment situations, if the money is strong at both places and everything else lines up fairly equally, a candidate will often select the option with the better benefits package — especially if he or she is the healthcare breadwinner at home. 

For hires aged 26 and younger, health benefits may not be as much of a concern, since those folks could still be on their parents’ plans. Additionally, as you enter into transition discussions with some recruits, you might discover that benefits aren’t a significant factor due to coverage options provided via a spouse/partner. But if you are one of those companies that do not yet offer health benefits, be prepared for this to be a negotiation dealbreaker in most cases. 

That’s not to say there aren’t creative ways around a lack of healthcare provision. Some employers are offering a stipend to help offset an agreed-upon portion the employee’s additional cost of either extending COBRA, buying benefits on the open market, or adding an individual or family to a spouse’s/partner’s plan. One early-stage startup company I’ve worked with actually offered to pay for an entire family’s COBRA cost to land a key VP-level hire — not a cheap negotiation tactic! But the CEO wanted this particular person, and it was worth the investment to land him. In other words, be willing to be creative.

  1. Work-life flexibility. As we discussed recently, the topic of work-life/worksite flexibility is far more critical today than ever before. Again, this factor may very well rank in the #2 slot for some candidates, depending on their life situations and positions in career. If you find yourself struggling either to find or to keep candidates engaged, and your overall pay and benefits package is on point, then it may be time to strongly reconsider your adherence to the old “8-to-5” in-office workday policy. 
  2. Commute distance. I have talked to many local candidates quite recently who refuse to drive to either downtown Durham or downtown Raleigh, depending on where they live. I’ve also engaged relocatees from D.C. and New York, and they consider any of our commutes around here to be a piece of cake. The distance and/or time involved in a work commute can be a critical deciding factor for certain members of the job seeker pool. With higher frequency, it is absolutely sparking the question about working remotely 1+ days per week. Consider offering remote work options to widen your geographic reach for candidates, particularly if your top options do not feel as if they are physically close enough warrant driving in every single day. 
  3. Retirement Plan Access. Whether it’s a 401(k) or Simple IRA, most people like having some retirement plan access. If your organization does not offer a retirement plan structure presently, you might lose the job offer battle to another company, if all else is pretty much even. For those that can, it may be worthwhile to consider offering equity or shares in the company, particularly if you’re early-stage and not significantly diluted. However, please note that not all candidates will see or understand the value in this generous provision. Given that modern-day average job tenures are less than 3 years, your offer recipients may not even stay long enough to vest, or they may not find value in a potential financial windfall that is likely to occur after they’ve already moved on. 
  4. Vacation. Extra vacation and time off perks are becoming more popular these days. A lot of companies are weighing the option of offering unlimited vacation. I’ve even worked with a client that provides additional paid vacation time — not only four weeks of standard PTO, but also team member access to an additional $1,000 in cash that goes toward taking a scheduled break from work. Company-compensated relaxation time! 

Make no mistake, however, vacation isn’t just a perk. It’s a negotiation factor. If you’re speaking with someone who has earned her or his way up to four or more weeks of paid time off, that candidate will not be excited to drop back down to your company standard of three weeks. Nor is she/he going to be stoked about the fact that your company might function on a PTO accrual basis, where it will take a year to earn 12 days. 

  1. Other Perks? Gym memberships, beer on tap, catered lunches, one day off a month to volunteer, etc. Many companies are trying to get creative with the accouterments they offer in the hopes of currying the favor of high-potential hires. After recruiting for several years, however, and now working day-to-day in our present candidates’ market, I can say with confidence that I’ve never lost an offer negotiation due to the presence or absence of these sorts of side-item perks. In other words, these features are most often icing on the cake for candidates as opposed to being something that will sway them. 

If you’re trying to win the talent war, compare this list to your set of offer factors and see what you might want to adjust. Contact us anytime for help finding gifted and change-minded sales and marketing candidates.

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