How Tech Leaders Can Get the Hiring Support They Need

Three steps to clearly explain your problem and lead with solutions.
Kate Heinz
April 1, 2020
Updated: February 23, 2021
Kate Heinz
April 1, 2020
Updated: February 23, 2021

Your talent acquisition team is there to help recruit the best and brightest to your organization. However, at companies with aggressive hiring goals across all departments, recruiters can’t do it all. In order to get the support and resources you need as a hiring manager, you have to make your voice heard and explain the larger business impact of a short-staffed tech department. Read on to learn the three steps to make it happen.

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Table of Contents

 

Step 1: Explain the Pain

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Data is power, so use it to your advantage when making your case for additional recruitment resources. Business decisions come down to dollars and cents, especially during a market correction period or tight economy. As a result, how you explain the consequences of unfilled tech roles should be directly tied to the long-term business strategy and financial impact. 

You’ll likely be talking to individuals with a range of expertise and areas of interest — executive leaders, investors and HR professionals, to name a few. Come to the table with a variety of approaches to the problem at hand by including the following metrics in your business case.

 

Cost-of-Vacancy

Start the conversation off with a discussion of finances by articulating your estimated cost-of-vacancy (COV), which is the amount of money lost to an unfilled position. Cost-of-vacancy is calculated by subtracting the amount of revenue lost from the amount saved on payroll and benefits while the role remains unfilled. We’ve outlined the steps to determine your own COV below. 

To get started, you’ll need the following information: 

  • Your company’s average annual revenue

  • The total number of employees at your company

  • The unfilled role’s annual salary

 

Step 1: Determine revenue lost

Start by determining the average revenue generated per employee. Then, convert that number into a daily average by dividing the revenue per employee by 260 — the accepted number of working days per year.

Depending on the role, the amount of revenue lost can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because of this, a revenue-impact multiplier of either one, two or three is used to determine a role-specific revenue based on business impact. 

One is used for entry-level roles such as a coordinator or junior-level contributor. Two is used for high-impact roles like sales persons, tech employees and product developers. A multiplier of three is reserved for executive and leadership roles. 

Finally, calculate the total revenue lost by multiplying the role-specific revenue and the number of days you anticipate the role will remain empty, or the estimated time-to-fill. The global average time-to-fill for tech roles is 62 days.

  1. Average Employee Revenue: (Annual revenue) / (Number of EE)

  2. Average Daily Employee Revenue: (Average EE revenue) / (260 working days/year) 

  3. Daily Role-Specific Revenue: (Avg. daily EE revenue) x (Revenue-impact multiplier) 

  4. Revenue Lost to Vacant Role: (Daily role-specific revenue) x (Estimated time-to-fill) 

 

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Step 2: Determine payroll and benefits savings

While you’ll undoubtedly lose money to a vacant position, you’ll experience some savings by not having to pay salary or benefits during the vacancy. Use the employee’s salary to calculate the estimated daily cost of their benefits package. From there, you can determine the amount spent on the employee per day, and multiply it by the estimated time-to-fill to calculate how much you’ll save while the role is vacant.

  1. Cost of Benefits = (EE salary) x (.314) 

  2. Cost of Employee = (EE salary) + (Cost of benefits)

  3. Daily Cost of Employee = (Cost of employee) / 260

  4. Payroll and Benefits Savings = (Daily cost of EE) x (Estimated time-to-fill)

 

Step 3: Calculate the cost-of-vacancy

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you’re ready to determine the cost-of-vacancy for the open role.

  1. Cost-of-Vacancy = (Payroll and benefits savings) - (Revenue lost to vacant role)

 

Calculating cost-of-vacancy is challenging for technical roles because it’s difficult to tie dollar signs to intangible costs like lost productivity, project delays and depleting team morale, some of the most damaging effects of losing a highly-skilled tech professional. As a result, your COV calculation should be considered a baseline — the actual cost of your unfilled roles is significantly more.

Nonetheless, having tangible data to back your case will earn the attention of key stakeholders, so know the cost-of-vacancy for your critical tech roles. To simplify your calculations, use our free COV calculator.

 

Employee morale and engagement

In addition to explaining the financial burden of unfilled roles, be prepared to articulate the current state of your team from an employee engagement and morale perspective. Your people are your most important asset and understanding how they are affected by an empty desk is crucial. An unfilled position increases your employees’ workloads. If your current employees regularly work long hours or are stressed on the job, they’ll eventually burn out and quit. 

Moreover, losing a close friend in the office can lessen the appeal of the job to another employee, making them more likely to disengage from work and look for other opportunities. Even if colleagues aren’t particularly close, a team member’s departure will prompt others to ask themselves, “If they’re leaving, should I leave, too?” 

Simply put, a vacant role can spark a toxic cycle of turnover that acts like a parasite on your company. Utilize employee engagement surveys — if you aren’t doing so already — to track the state of your workforce. Regularly collecting feedback from your employees provides you with relevant information to get ahead of potential problems. Additionally, you can use this data to see how employee sentiments were impacted immediately following a high-impact separation. 

Leverage the data to show how engagement levels directly correlate with your retention rate; highly-engaged employees are 87 percent less likely to leave their jobs. If leadership understands that one empty role could result in multiple, they’ll be quick to respond with additional hiring support.

 

Step 2: Lead With Solutions

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Explaining why your hiring needs deserve the attention of the talent acquisition team is just the first step. Now that you’ve identified a problem, it’s time to develop solutions. Doing so will expedite the process and improve your outcomes. Be prepared to hit the ground running with the following action items. 

 

Outline your job requirements

No one has your industry expertise or understanding of the open role. To ensure recruiters are looking in the right place for the right people, clearly outline your job requirements. This is the list of qualifications included on a job post that inform candidates’ decisions to pass or apply. Remember to limit this list to only your must-haves. You’ll be hard pressed to find an individual who checks every box, and having a lengthy list of requirements is not an effective sourcing strategy

Instead, be targeted but flexible with regards to your ideal candidate. Get serious about the technical skills, years of experience and qualifications a candidate must have to be successful in the role, but be open to the value of a high-potential individual. Offer to write the job requirements if necessary. Yes, you’re busy taking care of business, but your upfront investment will improve the efficiency of your recruitment process and the quality of hire. Leverage our job description data to create effective job requirements.

 

Create your candidate persona

Once you’ve finalized the professional qualifications of your ideal candidate, hone in even further on who they are by creating a candidate persona. A candidate persona is a detailed description of your ideal candidate that is informed by data and your past hires. This is an invaluable resource for recruiters that helps guide and streamline their process; knowing exactly who they should be looking for helps mitigate back and forth, improving their efficiency. 

Furthermore, a candidate persona anchors the hiring process and establishes a strong line of communication between hiring managers and recruiters, which is essential to an efficient process. If the search veers off course, you’re able to refer back to your persona to help restructure how and who recruiters are looking for. 

When creating your candidate persona, include details like geographical location, communication style, preferred work environment and professional motivators. Additionally, work with the talent team to identify candidate characteristics that have proven successful in the past. The more specific you are with your persona, the better prepared the recruiters will be.

 

Tap into your team’s existing network

Employee referrals are candidates that joined your applicant pool at the recommendation of a current employee. They’re the top source for hires since your existing team members are able to vouch for candidates. Additionally, the hiring process is 55 percent faster when candidates are referred since these individuals are more familiar to your team when they start out.

Create an employee referral program to leverage your current employees’ networks and connect with more top performers. Give your referral program legs by offering employees a bonus for their recommendations. Providing recruiters with a list of potential candidates to pursue helps jumpstart the sourcing process and lightens their workload. 

 

Step 3: Invest in the Process

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In order to get the results you want, you must be willing to put skin in the game. Doing so will improve hiring outcomes and demonstrate to the talent acquisition team that you’re invested in the process; knowing the hiring manager is willing to put in the work will encourage recruiters to do the same. Consider the following ways to invest in the recruitment process and help fill your open roles.

 

Bolster the budget

Recruiting requires funds, and more often than not, the talent and people teams don’t have the budget to support every hiring manager’s needs. The average cost-per-hire — your total of internal and external expenses — is $4,425, which can jump to as much as $14,936 for an executive position. 

Alternatively, you may consider turning to an agency for additional hiring support. While a dedicated recruiter can help fill a role faster, their fees cost roughly 20 percent of the position’s salary. For a software engineer with an average salary of $124,575, you’d be paying $24,915 just to sign a new hire.

Contribute to the cause by allocating your own resources and budget to the talent acquisition team’s efforts for your open roles. The hit to your budget is temporary and you’ll be spending significantly less than what you would for an agency's services. Additionally, conveying your stake in the process is to the benefit of your team’s long-term success. The more efficient and accurate recruiters are in their search, the sooner you’ll fill the open role. For high-impact positions, you’ll recoup your investment virtually overnight.

 

Help conduct interviews

You’ll undoubtedly be involved in the later stages of the interview process as the hiring manager, but make an effort to help out early on. Phone screen interviews are fairly straightforward, but incredibly time consuming for an understaffed recruitment team, which most are. While creating job requirements and a candidate persona provides recruiters with the information they need to carry out the search, manpower can be a serious limiting factor. 


Fill in the gaps where you can, whether that’s in sourcing and reviewing applicant profiles, conducting phone interviews or spearheading candidate communication. Many of these tasks can be expedited through recruitment automation tools, such as an applicant tracking system (ATS), which is an excellent use of your budget. However, implementing a new application is no easy task, so don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty and manually take on some of the responsibilities.

 

Be flexible 

Here’s the truth: virtually every qualified tech candidate is already gainfully employed, which means your recruiters will be going after passive candidates. These are individuals who are likely interested in learning more about your opportunities, but will struggle to fit into your schedule. Remember, these are high-impact roles that need to be filled as quickly as possible in order to minimize the resulting cost-of-vacancy, so be willing to take an interview outside of standard business hours. 

Additionally, have the backstops in place to pivot to a video interview if onsite interviews aren’t feasible. Meeting for coffee or lunch is another great way to connect with passive candidates. Lastly, don’t be quick to rule out applicants. Individuals who check only some of your boxes but exhibit a high level of potential may be worth the investment.

 

When it comes to filling your open roles, you must be your own champion to earn the buy-in of senior leadership. Be thoughtful in your approach and even-keeled during the conversation; you understand the burden of an unfilled tech role, but the rest of the team does not — yet. Use the steps outlined here to develop a well-informed business case that merits additional recruitment resources.

FREE E-BOOK: A TECH LEADER’S GUIDE TO REMOTE HIRING. DOWNLOAD HERE.

 

 

 

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