A Healthy Economy and Recruiting Top Talent

By Michael Michalisin, Regional Managing Director

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As the economy continues to gain momentum the need to have dynamic leadership skilled in growing the top line while maintaining healthy margins has become more critical than ever. During the past decade corporate America has experienced significant economic swings; the technology boom as well as an economic bust, widespread unemployment due to cost-cutting and offshore outsourcing, threats on our national territory as well as healthy growth. Living through these experiences has given these companies a practical education in economics and empowered them to survive and succeed.

The most accomplished executives are those who are able to thoroughly understand a company’s history of financial performance and are savvy in creating and implementing growth strategies to achieve targets. They have a keen appreciation for the importance of incorporating the historical events that brought the company to where it is today and the necessary strategy to achieve performance goals. These strengths will be the blueprint of the best and most sought after executives in 2006.

The year 2005 proved to be one in which companies continued to flourish. The inflation rate was maintained at 3.39% as the 2005 annual average. In accordance with national unemployment statistics unemployment was reduced from 5.1% at the close of 2005 to 4.7% ending in January 2006 and interest rates remained relatively calm. The reduction in unemployment appears to be a trend for the first quarter of 2006.

Securing the best talent to map the course for success has become increasingly more challenging as this healthy economy means that the majority of executive talent is gainfully employed and the pool of skilled leaders has dwindled to below the national average employment.

The impact of an improving economy means that highly seasoned executives as well as middle managers are in demand and commanding higher salaries and incentive packages to make a move.

The evolution of supply and demand means that it is imperative for employers to be proactive with regard to assessing their corporate compensation structure and benefits. With unemployment at a record low, employers need to prioritize the work force culture to stay competitive for talent.

Now is the time for companies to present themselves in the best light possible by performing a corporate self-assessment and evaluating if new or additional talent is a necessity. This assessment should include an evaluation of existing targets to determine if they are realistic and achievable. Frequently it is possible to avoid a change in leadership by merely modifying target expectations.

If you determine that new leadership is essential, be prepared for the search by reviewing your historical results and assessing whether your targets are reasonable to your industry and cash flow.

Many companies set overly aggressive goals to project top line sales growth but do not support the marketing efforts with the tools to achieve success. Since skilled leaders are in short supply, consider focusing on developing the talent that is already in place instead of making disruptive changes at the top.

In the event that the decision is made to recruit a new leadership, there must be an honest evaluation of historical performance, a focus on the future addressing specific objectives, and strategies for long-term success.

Retain a search firm that partners with you in the talent acquisition process and then trust the process to enable candidates to present their skills to you. Your internal interview team will gain insights from meeting the candidates who possess strong operational savvy, demonstrated sales and marketing experience and hands-on knowledge of your industry.