This has been the most unique time for hiring that I’ve seen in the 11 years (gulp!) that I’ve been doing executive search for marketing leaders.

A recap:

  • Demand is up. There’s huge demand for marketing talent, as you may have noticed! There have been several days when I have said no to 4 or more searches. Bandwidth is a beast. And I spoke with execs at one company who got turned down by 3 search firms for a CMO search.
  • Candidate yield is down. One metric I look at closely in my practice is yield. If I reach out to 100 people, and 80 people get back to me, the yield is 80%. Yield has fallen as the market is so frothy. In parallel….
  • Relationships matter more than ever. Candidates have told me, “I only respond to the outreaches of CEOs or recruiters I know already.” Relationships are always important; now, they can make all the difference.
  • Curious behavior abounds. Have you seen behavior from candidates that makes you scratch your head? Like candidates who meet the CEO and Board members and then pick that moment to ghost everyone? What’s up with that?!

The companies that are winning in this wild talent market are:

  • Moving lightning fast. Two of my CMO friends just transitioned roles, and told me the process from start to finish was less than a week.  
  • Lightening the process by swapping out heavy duty ‘homework assignments’ for time together. Typically I am a fan of a robust hiring process, with a capstone case study or presentation or chalk talk. It’s a good way to get beyond the interview, see a candidate’s work, and vet their interest. Now, several of my clients are opting instead for 2-3 deeper dive conversations between the CEO and the top candidates.
  • Showcasing great cultures up-front. We all feel it. Work has changed! People are no longer expecting their lives to fit into their work. They are looking for work to fit into their lives. I often say to candidates, “Tell me the top 3 criteria you have for your next role.” More than ever, people mention great culture, transparency, and authentic leadership. I’m learning to tweak my outreaches to align to these interests. For a recent search, I mentioned the “great product and customer set, new CEO that is very popular and believes in the no-jerks rule, and 30%+ growth rate.” All the candidates said the comment about the CEO really stuck with them above all else.
  • Opting for ‘purposeful presence’ and being flexible on location. People simply are less willing to uproot themselves for a job, whether that’s relocating across state lines or putting up with 90 minutes or more of commuting every day. One of my clients talks about ‘purposeful presence’ rather than blanket expectations of time in the office. Another talks about enabling ‘we work’ and ‘me work’ in different ways.
  • Giving great offers. I have a friend who was getting recruited for a job, and he said he was focusing on roles that were in the comp range of ‘X to Y.’ The company came back and offered him Y + 25%. Net: Now is not the time to lowball.

Coming soon: “Solving for the Scale Journey” on The Get podcacast

The Get is back! The Get is a podcast about finding — and keeping — great marketing leaders in B2B SaaS. I’ve been talking with great CMOs – and those who hire them – and am bottling up their insights to share with you shortly. The theme this season is ‘Solving for the Scale Journey.’ Subscribe and follow the podcast here.

Have a great holiday!