Just about every employer that approaches us to help them find talent starts with this line: “This is the opportunity of a lifetime!” Then we smile.
They go on to describe whatever job search they’re working on, explaining that this life-changing position will give the right candidate the chance to own evolving business, create and launch a new product category or service, and reinvent a struggling brand to become a leader in a new market.
This sounds too good to be true – and oftentimes, it is. This marketing spin ends up being just that: a flashy spin on an average opportunity – what employers don’t get is that top talent can see right through it. And there’s a cost to this misrepresentation.
Talent can sniff out “copycat companies” who use that “opportunity of a lifetime” pitch and speak about wanting to be the next Google, Uber, or Airbnb – companies who in reality, haven’t dialed in their search enough to understand what specific service they truly need. Let me say that about 10 years ago, tag lines like this would perk up the ears of designers and have them lining up at your doorstep...but today this line has been misused so many times that talent is jaded, to the point I’d caution you from using it altogether because you’ll just find yourself trying to substantiate that line to skeptical candidates.
Many of the top design leaders in this industry have toiled day and night, reached across divides, brought consensus, gone the extra mile through blood sweat and tears, and jumped through hoops of fire to transform a corporation from the ground up, and they have proven themselves.
They are not about to do it again, and certainly not for just any company dangling a shiny comp package. These designers have validated and proved their superpowers to execute transformational high-risk, high-reward projects, but executing something to this massive level of transformation for a company is a heavy investment from the talent, and from the company’s standpoint, an investment of years to identify, create, and execute – so much so that no candidate with serious capability is going to choose to enter into this lightly again.
Talent of this gravity at this level will take the time to scrutinize and qualify which of these opportunities will be a good use of their time – and an opportunity where the employers are still confused about a role definitely won’t qualify. Once talent has pulled a company out of the fire and transformed them, they don’t want to do it again for a company that doesn’t deserve it.
Employers tend to think that the simplest solution to this issue is to use compensation to attract talent, but even then, most of you don’t offer enough for this enormous undertaking to be worth it to top creatives. Money is important – but it isn’t the end all, be all in attracting top talent.
Visionary talent have refined their unique methodologies and processes in ways that are both rigorous and thorough. It takes years of blood, sweat, and tears to develop what they can produce. They aren’t going to waste their time applying their superpowers for just any company. Not for any client or employer that isn’t ready to truly follow through, that isn’t ready to support them with the right team, the right infrastructure, healthy lead times, or establish the right organizational channels to allow them to execute what they can create.
Would you chase down a top surgeon and dangle a great sum of money in front of them to get them to perform open heart surgery on you, only to turn around and say “Can you work out of the back kitchen on a card table with this flashlight? Also, hey, forget the team, just use my cousins who watched a video on this to help you with the surgery instead of the top team of experts to support you. And forget the post-treatment regiment of physical therapy and new diet, I’m just going to go back to smoking 3 packs a day and eat my fried burgers. Oh, and I know we’ve just met but can you do this tomorrow? I’ve got a meeting next week.”
After all these unreasonable demands and restrictions, would you then turn around and ask the surgeon “Hey, why isn’t this working?”
You want a miracle worker – would you limit their resources to test out their abilities to see how good they really are?
We often get to the point when we assess if a client is worth working with, because as you can imagine, we too have developed a proven rigorous process that also requires the client to comply. We turn down 4 out of 5 clients for the same reasons as well. It’s not worth our time to work with clients that are unrealistic about what they are looking for and what they’re willing to bring to the table to attract and hire top talent
Inevitably they always begin with the “it’s the opportunity of a lifetime” pitch. At this point, we break down their marketing spin and call them on their level of awareness and preparation to see what they’re truly ready to invest in to implement change. Many don’t get it. We tell them they will need to adjust their offer and the package, that there is no infrastructure to support this visionary leader. Some companies will say “Yes we’ll make these changes”, but really, most don’t.
There are different types of visionary leaders that are adept and excited to take an enterprise-scale corporation through these initial steps. Some of them are just built for this and they thrive on it– but they are also aware of this gift which is why it costs a pretty penny to ask these candidates to do this for you. And again, it’s not just the shiny compensation package they require because it takes a lot to bring about great change for the good.
Be ready to back up that “opportunity of a lifetime” spin with real results.
It won’t take long for the few candidates who do take the bait to recognize within a few steps into the conversation with you and your hiring team, the C-Suite, and middle management, if your company really has what it takes and is prepared to really back up that request for a visionary leader to create an innovation miracle. Top talent can tell when a company is truly prepared to support them in their endeavor with the correct infrastructure, a sufficient team, the right resources, healthy lead times, and clear channels to execute the magical transformation they can pull a corporation through.
As a firm specializing in both executive recruitment and executive coaching, Yeh IDeology sits in the nexus between business and design, between candidate and employer. Just as we speak with large corporations and businesses searching for that design unicorn of unicorns, we work with design leaders who are searching for that perfect opportunity with a company that not only sees talent but also understands and values it – AND knows how to support their initiative to allow true innovation to happen. You have no idea how many times we hear these stories!
The main hiring manager of a company may have come to the realization that a visionary change agent is needed, but the issue here is that the rest of the company has to realize this as well. If no one else does, you’re not going to win talent over. There are more “Opportunities of a Lifetime” out there in the industry now than there ever were before, so attracting talent is becoming increasingly more difficult.
So how do you frame your opportunity? First, get as real as you can regarding your opportunity. Be honest regarding what aspects of the role are compelling and attractive, but also be clear about what isn’t so compelling out of the range of responsibilities.
It’s understandably difficult to navigate the growing world of design but your business shouldn’t have to suffer from that learning curve. Let’s be clear: your company needs to be ready. Visit our website www.yehideology.com/recruitment-2 to learn more about how we can help you with your search.