It’s an unavoidable fact that when you want to scale your business, you need to recruit your team, and you want to recruit the best you can afford. At least I hope you do, otherwise I’d question your recruitment strategy. But what about when the market is ‘hot’ and the best you can afford doesn’t appear to be that good!

It’s a situation I’ve lived through a number of times, both as a recruiter, and a business owner. I’ve worked through Telecom’s and Software bubbles in the 90’s, and more recently the solar, energy storage and now the eMobility bubble. The cause is simple supply and demand. You want experience, there isn’t much of it about, you end up in a bidding war for candidates, if you’re not careful. What can you do? I’ll share some suggestions below.

I was prompted to write this piece after a plea for advice came in this morning from a good industry contact, who will remain nameless, but the last sentence of his e-mail said…

“For these mid-career roles I am seeing salary levels of 75-90K sterling, some even higher. Could you confirm if this is sort of benchmark in e-mobility in UK?”

Firstly I would say, for absolute Key roles, leadership roles, and for genuine A* talent, you should be prepared to blow your budget. These people are few and far between. But for your A’s and B+ candidates (I don’t know much about lesser talents!) then yes, pay what you can afford, but take a look at the value they bring, and what alternatives you might have…..

My first (but not only) suggestion would be to use a professional filter, such as my company Hyperion Executive Search. You don’t do your own legal work, or accountancy, you use a professional to solve your problems!

One thing we do, and you could too, if you have the time, is to always be looking to engage with and network with the best talent in your field. The best talent is very rarely in a situation where they are looking for a job, applying to jobs, sending CVs to recruiters. They don’t need to, they are doing a great job, with motivation, and no doubt being looked after where they are. Job boards tend to be awash with the unmotivated, unwanted and incapable. Why do we do this? When candidates aren’t looking for a job they are more likely to be open about their experience, their salary, and what would motivate them to move (It’s VERY rarely money by the way). I’m happy to talk to you about what does motivate top talent to move. So build a network, benchmark people you see, do something for them (we help top candidates in many ways, sometimes they just want to know their market worth, or to hear of awesome opportunities, or market insights). You now have a warm pool of talent, that won’t be motivated purely by salary, and will be open to your approach, when the time is right.

Look outside of your niche. There is an argument that top talent, is top talent (that makes far more sense than Brexit is Brexit I assure you!). If someone has all the usual superstar attributes they won’t lose them if they move to another industry is what I mean. Think about it, would you rather pay, say £70,000 fixed salary for a B candidate in your sector, or the same or less for a superstar from another? Of course it depends on the nature of the role, and how quickly they can learn. At Hyperion we specialise in finding top talent in our client’s niche, so why would I suggest looking outside of your sector? Because what matters most is what is best for our clients, and what’s best for the cleantech industry, and over-inflated markets aren’t good for either. You end up with candidate merry-go-rounds and average people earning superstar pay, until they get found out and can’t deliver what is needed to pay the salary they have. There are many superstars outside of your niche looking for, or open to, opportunities in our wonderful cleantech world.

Don’t just pay over the odds, have a long term strategy, always be open to talent, pay more when it’s justified, but be creative when it’s not. Work with a partner to do all this for you, so you can focus on scaling your business. That’s my recommendation anyway! But even if you go it alone, don’t be burned by a hot market, make yourself an attractive employer, recruit for your purpose, not an over-priced off the shelf, average employee.