Keeping clear of hiring chaos in hot emerging industries

After more than two decades as an executive recruiter and business leader in frontier and emerging markets, I have lived and worked through numerous waves of hiring splurges as new niches, in new industry sectors and new markets, started to spike.

The tech boom in the early 2000s is just one really great example of this (remember, the one that led to the dot com bomb?). But I’ve been around long enough to have witnessed hiring frenzies in a range of other markets and industries – from traditional financial services and investment banking (especially pre- global financial crisis), to the more recent massive demand for specialized skills in the blockchain and crypto space, the emerging psychedelics industry, climate tech and more.

These high-growth hiring phases are all normal parts of the ebb and flow of markets in general, where there is seldom an equal balance between the demand for skills to meet ‘new’ roles in growing industries, particularly ones that require technical expertise and mastery and the supply of talent for these roles.

Nevertheless, what inevitably transpires is the clichéd but real ‘war for talent’. Significantly greater demand for highly specialized talent than the supply of said skills, results in a veritable ‘bun fight’ to hire the best skills, at whatever price, as quickly as possible.

Equally inevitably, in what recruiters refer to as a ‘Candidates’ market’, the outcomes are less than fabulous screening and interview processes (in fact, some are just downright shoddy), unsustainable salary offers being made to attract skills, and overall way too many hiring mistakes – on the part of both candidates and employers.

Quick employee turnover (the likely end result of all of this) is in no-one’s best interests. I won’t go into the costs – direct and indirect – of a poor hire here. Let’s just say, the costs are so high that they are worth taking real time and energy to mitigate.

Here are a few of the key hiring risk mitigation steps that I highly recommend:

  1. Interview with rigor
  • Bring in external advisors to help with interviewing for roles where you have limited expertise.
  • Ensure that the candidate has the right skills for the role, or that you have a suitable mentoring or development plan to get up to speed.
  1. Understand the candidate’s motivation for taking the role
  • If money is the main motivation, expect that your candidate will likely be lured away when another more competitive financial offer arises.
  • Ensure that the opportunity is aligned with the candidate’s career objectives.
  1. Take references
  • If there are any inconsistencies or concerns that arise in the interview process, ask former employers or colleagues about this.
  • No candidate is perfect, but make sure you are aware of compromises or accommodations you may need to offer.

In hot markets that are moving at a furious pace, it’s tempting to cut corners and make a semi-suitable hire as quickly as possible. However the old adage ‘more haste, less speed’ is so apt in these instances. Or this one: Act in haste, repent at leisure.

Old fashioned perhaps, but still true.

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