The Long Game

Published on April 17, 2011 | By Mark Badley - Managing Director

There has not been a blog on our site for quite some time. Since I last blogged Ronin has tripled in size, moved to new offices, installed a number of new technologies and created stronger processes. This has taken a lot of time and effort but it is nevertheless short sighted to contribute so little to our website. That said, what is contributed must be relevant and useful so I hope that this article produces food for thought.

Long Game

I was considering this morning a phrase that I hear regularly. A close friend and associate of mine often comments that Ronin play a long game with the relationships that we hold. By this, he is referring to the fact that we aim to give market insight, coaching and assistance to candidates regardless of whether we have the correct vacancies on at the time that they are looking. It is important to add value.

We also spend time talking to potential clients who have not yet engaged our services. We often help these companies to understand the candidate supply markets, what drives people to look for new positions and how their employer brand is viewed externally.

In both above cases the short term benefit is non-fiscal, we simply gain the satisfaction which comes with being able to help and share our expertise. In the long term we have found those that we have helped have returned at a time when we have a job that fits or in the clients’ case, they have opened a door for Ronin to supply.

The term ‘Long Game’ can be applied to the hiring strategies used by employers and the decision process made by candidates considering multiple offers.

Many hiring managers approach permanent recruitment with a job specification that covers all of the roles needs. Often we find that they are unwilling to be flexible ‘the right candidate must fulfil all these criteria’. At Ronin we believe by recruiting permanent hires that have the potential to grow into and beyond the role is often a better strategy. By hiring candidates who require development the employer is immediately offering something beyond financial compensation. In sport terms, this is the difference between a team buying a global super star like Fernando Torres (sorry Chelsea fans) or an up and coming player like Gareth Bale. If you are not into Football I will summarise by explaining Torres cost seven times more than Bale to buy and costs three times more to maintain but produces one third of the results and now has a lower resale value by a factor of three. Bale is worth ten times more. This is an extreme example but there is definite value to be achieved beyond choosing a candidate who has held an identical role at a competitor and making the individual an offer that they cannot refuse.

It is a labour intensive task to hire and train but the investment means that companies are more likely to retain their new hires and will be recruiting less often. This strategy is also more likely to attract a candidate whose professional development is high on the agenda as opposed to simply doing the same job for more. When a project or team requires the finished article immediately then we recommend the use of professional interims. The cost is comparable as it only applies to the length of the project and with a good knowledge transfer plan in place, the interim can leave behind a stronger team than he or she joined.

Job hunters are also prone to playing the short game. They decide they want to leave after feeling under-valued, stale or see a lack of opportunity in their current place of work. After weeks of interviewing the best candidates secure several offers. At this point the biggest issue we encounter is the financial package on offer. The other details go out of the window. I have seen candidates literally come out of the frying pan and into the fire because there was an extra 2-3% available and that swung the decision. It is so important for us all as individuals to define our professional goals and use these to help make the right decisions.

I am of course talking generally in this article, with a lot of black and white statements where plenty of grey exists. I do firmly believe that in order to gain better results than the market we have to think and act differently as employers and employees’, of course many of us are both.

Sometimes you have to go for short term success but time invested in the long game can often have far greater impact.