“Back to school” time is a milestone for many of our clients: product and services utilization spikes and many buying cycles are beginning. This customer centric time of year can be the commercial focus for education technology and curriculum companies, and inevitably other things get pushed aside. But it is also the time of year to start preparing for the next year’s success. Putting off organizational planning to December may be the norm, but it also hamstrings your ability to develop traction in the first quarter. My 23 years of hiring in the education space makes me compelled to recommend: the time to build next year’s candidate pipeline is now.
1. The fierce competition for talent is increasing
With unemployment rates at record lows (July 2019 3.7%) and EdTech industry executives contesting for top talent, you should allow for extra time when hiring in case you cannot find or close on candidates right away. Based on the low supply and high demand for commercial expertise in EdTech, great candidates are getting multiple competing offers and receiving counteroffers from current employers. Your first choice hire now has many options; for each open role, companies should target several hireable candidates in case closing on them is difficult. Securing and managing multiple final applicants is challenging, so getting an early start and properly planning will set you up for success.
2. Hire when you aren’t desperate
Executives often wait until they are in a seemingly urgent need to fill a deficiency at their organization and this amplifies at the beginning of each year. They rush the process, overlooking potential candidate flaws in hopes to get a person on board quickly. Rapid hiring decisions can deliver a devastating blow to your business objectives, company culture, and morale if these hires are not the right match. You may have to rehire for the position, costing time, money and resources. Although the old saying “hire slow and fire fast” is debatable, give yourself extra time to think, analyze, and stay in control of the hiring process; you will find the right person to fill your need.
3. End of year bonuses
Q4 can be a great time to engage potential candidates, but many executives and commercial talent who have annual bonuses will want to collect these before considering any career moves. When entering this time of year, consider two factors: candidate management and start date timing. Executive leaders should be instructing their hiring managers to implement a consistent high touch approach to manage the candidates through the hiring process. The goal is to establish your organization and opportunity as top-of-mind for your potential hires. Regarding timing, hiring managers must be aware if likely front runners will achieve their end-of-year goals and when they are expecting bonuses to payout. Use these factors to thoughtfully secure a commitment for an excellent candidate to start on January 1st.
4. Impact Q1 right from the beginning
If you have your team in place by January, you are utilizing Q1 to build pipeline, create new strategies and sell rather than onboard and train. Frequently, executives do not utilize their full headcount budget because they don’t recruit until the headcount goes into effect and crucial hires come months later. This often leaves several months of salary unspent, which on one hand reduces Q1 costs, but should never be at the expense of building business momentum.
5. Consider getting help
October to December is a notoriously busy execution and planning time in the education space and in all industries. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice this year’s commercial goals to build next year’s team. Outsourcing the hiring of critical roles or ideally engaging an industry specific specialist search firm like The Renaissance Network can build your hiring capacity and raise your ability to secure the best talent. Get a jump start on 2020 hiring…while still finishing 2019 strong.
The time is now. As October approaches it is the right time to think ahead to your headcount allocation for 2020 and put a smart plan in place to spend Q4 interviewing and hiring. Consider the five tips above. When January comes, critical hires will be in place allowing you and your team to focus on nailing your new business plan objectives.