Why do companies need to pay more for top talent?
We at Oakstone are in a constant quest to align ourselves with the most innovative of software and SaaS players; firms that have bright futures, great US presence, success under their belt and clear expansion plans for EMEA. These plans entail attracting the very best talent to the company – people who will not just hit their goals and targets, but will blow them out of the water.
After 22 years of working in this sector, we face the same challenges time and again. EMEA leaders know that to find a top level, successful new business hunter talent in the enterprise software industry then they need to be offering north of £80k (and in many cases now £90k+) base with a bonus to match. But this will often send shivers down the spine of a CFO sat in the Bay area, who thinks “no way, this can’t be necessary!”, and that wave of disbelief (in most cases) fails to pass.
So here’s the problem – the EMEA leaders want those guys, but know they can’t really compete on salary, so then it becomes a battle of technology and who can earn the most in my company. But the same CFO who won’t want to pay the going rate here in the UK will (in my experience) be reluctant to offer a guarantee either.
The final straw to this whole dilemma comes with the talent who blow all their competition away in the interview process, demonstrate hunger, ability and a clear understanding of what it takes to be a rockstar. These candidates will be doing this not just to your company but also to all the other “hot” companies that are offering cutting edge technology and also “claiming” to be the next best thing.
So, inevitably and as much as we don’t want to accept it – it comes down to the money and overall earning capability. Some people will read this and say, “Yes, but we have a fantastic comm plan, they have fantastic greenfield potential to exploit, the culture is amazing” – but guess what, they’ve been told that by many other companies they’ve met and many will indeed be highly attractive.
So this is why if you want top, top talent, you have to pay more for it (the alternative could be that your hiring process falls down and you end up back at square one – and how much does that impact your business? A great deal more than £10k in the short-term potentially).
As a recruiter we have a duty, in my opinion, to deliver a well-balanced shortlist of people that fit the role, the requirement, the culture and the budget – in scenarios like this though, I much prefer (in the absence of absolute trust) to work on a fixed fee, so we can truly mediate and enable the right guy/girl to join at the right level.