Guerrilla Warfare for Talent – Recruiters as Savvy Compensation Analysts

In a hyper-competitive recruitment markets, such as China, candidates are expecting sky-high offers.  Recruiters are faced with putting together competitive compensation packages.  Notwithstanding, the difficulty also lies with finding candidates with critical technical skills, analytical and problem solving abilities.  The next question is how you pay your candidate when you find them.  Candidates will typically expect 30% salary increases or more in emerging markets.  Top-candidates in mature markets may expect just as high pay-levels.

At the same time, recruiters are bounded by internal salary ranges and incumbent pay (internal fairness).  In the meanwhile, hiring managers, after many weeks of search, are demanding the recruiter to bring in the candidate.  Do whatever it takes.

This takes a certain savvy by recruiters to finesse offers packages balancing market demand, internal fairness and HR guidelines.


Recruiters as Compensation Analysts

I consider recruiters as guerrilla compensation analysts.  Recruiters are on the front-line talking to candidates.  They have the strongest pulse on market salary rates.  The corporate compensation analyst typically works with industry-wide salary surveys, at the organization level.  Recruiters are working with targeted candidates from specific companies.  The corporate compensation analyst will consider the macro view of industry competitiveness and analyze data from a broader set of benchmark companies.  The internal salary ranges may include company data not within your search parameters for talent.

Thus, the recruiter has insight into actual and real-time compensation information.  This information can help to complement corporate survey data.  The data is also targeted towards specific population, rather than from the broad set of survey data.  From an Asia context, recruiters will have access to local company data which usually are not included in corporate salary surveys.  The recruiter can be very powerful source of salary data to the corporate compensation team.

The savvy recruiter will leverage their candidate data to influence the internal corporate HR and hiring managers to appropriate salary offers.  They can also be a resource to compensation team to supplement gaps in corporate salary survey data.

Benefits of Analysis

So what are the specific benefits of collecting candidate data?  How can this help recruiters when they are under the gun to source and hire?  Below are the value and benefits:

  • Accuracy of Internal Salary Ranges
    • Often times, recruiters will challenge corporate salary survey that the ranges are not accurate.
      • The internal guidelines are not sufficiently competitive and candidate requirements are outside of guidelines.   
      • As companies move into smaller emerging markets, salary survey data may not cover new territories or countries in which you have been asked to recruit.
    • The recruiter can assemble a volume of salary survey data by asking for candidate salary during the initial interview process.  Recruiters can also ask for rough numbers from local search firms. 
    • After a collection from sufficient sample size of applicants one can begin to gain insight into market range of targeted candidates.  You will know whether your target candidate pool is above or below your company’s internal salary midpoint.
  • Internal Incumbent Fairness
    • It will be easy to map internal employees to the external market data collected.  Typically, incumbent data should include education level, years of experience, and performance outcome. 
    • Plotting your external data and internal incumbent pay will show a better picture after all.
  • Market Intelligence Data
    • Over time, the recruiter will be building up to a database of compensation data that will help you better understand your competitor compensation practices.  You will gain insight into:
      • Application of grade level and job titles
      • Payment on performance bonus percentages
      • Practices on counter-offers

Recruiting in highly competitive markets requires recruiters to take extra measures to the battlefield of the war for talent.  Often times, we talk of recruiting requiring the ability to source candidates. But, what happens if the recruiter also faces challenges within in the internal compensation structure.  Recruiters using a data and like a compensation analyst, collecting salary compensation on an excel file, will help breakdown barriers from within the corporate structure.


Part II

In the next installment, I will share a specific framework and template that all recruiters can use to improve the accuracy of compensation survey and internal salary range data.

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