Competition for talent gets tougher

With anticipation of a stronger economy and stronger employment rates in the region, Pinstripe Inc. chief executive officer Sue Marks is bullish about hiring in the coming year.

As the unemployment rate continues to shrink, as she predicts, there will be more opportunities for jobseekers to choose from and more competition for talent.

“So employers are going to have to be smarter and more competitive as they look to recruit and hire the best people,” said Marks, founder of Brookfield-based Pinstripe.

An independent recruitment process outsourcing provider, Pinstripe supports nearly 90 global clients in hiring employees and has a niche in the health care, advanced manufacturing, financial services, life sciences and technology industries. When the company acquired London-based Ochre House last July, its own employee base grew from about 500 to almost 800.

To recruit and retain top talent, one best practice for companies follows the mindset that employees are an asset to be maximized, not an expense to be minimized, said Marks, who served as a panelist at the Northern Trust Economic Trends Breakfast presented by BizTimes Media on Jan. 17.

“Great organizations see talent as really the only sustainable competitive advantage because all competitive advantage comes from the efforts of our people and the engagement of the minds of our people,” Marks said.

Organizations as a whole must make a commitment to shaping their cultures around talent, a process that can begin with a single person’s decision to sprout that kind of culture, she said.

Committing to culture is one of Marks’ “Sue-isms,” or key points of advice for companies to keep in mind as they work to recruit and retain top talent in the coming year.

“(Culture) matters,” Marks said. “It’s the software of our business. It’s where competence, commitment and contribution meet opportunity.”

Marks also encourages companies to “hire higher.”

“The idea here is that we have to hire people who have been there, done that, people that have been where we want to go,” Marks said. “We do not have the time or energy for OJT – on-the-job training.”

And companies should “fire faster.”

“The idea here is that after we let someone go, we never say, ‘I let that person go too soon,'” Marks said. “We always say we should have done it sooner. And…our employees know it and it reflects poorly on our leadership. As one of my CEO buddies said, ‘The longest time in your life is the time between losing confidence in one of your team (members) and the time you fire them.'”

Her “Sue-isms” round out with suggestions to “fail forward,” “brand bigger,” and “be bold.”

“Get out of your comfort zone,” Marks said. “Take risks. Never punish someone for making a mistake. Ask forgiveness instead of permission.”

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