The time is ripe to take advantage of a newly available talent in the smart grid space. Silver Spring Networks is spending $12 million in cash this quarter to acquire Detectent, a company providing data analytics for utilities. Meanwhile, Accenture has entered into an agreement to acquire Structure, a provider of consulting, system integration and customized solutions and services to energy and utilities clients. Also, last fall Schneider Electric announced it would purchase InStep, a performance management software company.
As the smart grid space continues to heat up we can expect more consolidations in 2015. Where human capital is as valuable as the cutting-edge technology they are trying to bring to market, the team can make or break a company. Emerging growth start-ups who take advantage of top talent left restless by these acquisitions set themselves up for significant success.
These recent acquisitions in the smart grid space demonstrate traction and will bring operational efficiency to the market. This consolidation will also open up options for current employees at those companies to move on and build something new again with another firm. No matter how diligent and thoughtful the on-boarding process is for the company being acquired, there will always be a few employees who choose not to stay on, due to changes in their positions or a clash with the new company culture.
It’s safe to assume that the key players at any acquired startup have been secured with golden handcuffs for at least a year or two. However, it is likely other talented professionals at these companies are just now starting to consider their next move. At Enertech Search Partners, we carefully monitor acquisitions like these for candidates who are a perfect fit for our clients with open positions. All startups should do the same.
After consolidations, the smartest growth companies aggressively go after people who are ready to move. The competition for this in-demand talent is fierce and once they are on the market, these A Players will not stay free agents for long. Larger companies are ruthless in their hiring process, so emerging growth companies must learn to adapt their hiring tactics to skillfully finesse their way into the front of the line. These employees know how valuable they are to the field, and the companies that demonstrate they understand and respect that value are the ones who win.
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The signing bonus is back
During the Great Recession, signing bonuses took a back seat to other more economical incentives. Today, competition is high and companies are winning with cash. Repeat, cash is king.
As the leading cleantech and sustainability recruiting firm, Enertech Search Partners is seeing A and B Round companies and mid-stage startups offer bonuses anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000, depending on the terms attached to the bonus. This is a significant shift in strategy for a growing company, but critical in terms of attracting the most successful talent. In some cases, these signing bonuses help cover the pipeline of sales commissions a candidate could be expecting, or cover an upcoming performance bonus. Additionally, a signing bonus can be viewed by a candidate as a symbol of the company’s financial strength and a forward commitment from the leadership.
However, this strategy only works when it comes with conditions. The aim is to ensure the employee becomes immune to continued aggressive recruiting calls and does not entertain a sweeter deal in six months’ time. Some companies pay out the entire bonus at once, and others amortize it over the course of a year. Conditions that secure an employee for one to two years give you time to properly onboard them, and gives them the space to develop success in their new position.
Show them how your position furthers their career dreams
Top talent in any sector likes to know that the positions they take are at the cutting edge of the industry. They like the challenge of building new technologies and new markets. ‘A Players’ retract from the bureaucracy of large enterprises and thrive in the nitty-gritty of the startup culture.
During the hiring process, share both the good and the bad with candidates. They will appreciate the transparency of knowing what the position truly holds. Quite often, these industry trailblazers will be attracted to tackling the challenge.
In addition, outline how joining your team creates a career opportunity for them to work on the bleeding edge of their industry. When one is a pioneer in their field, leadership and innovation opportunities are opened up to them. Also, since they will be one of the strongest members on your staff, they’ll also have a chance for career acceleration. This experience of being immersed immediately nourishes quick career growth.
Equity the new employee benefit
The market surrounding equities is bloated. People don’t have to look far to know someone (maybe even themselves) who’s been burned by startup equity gone awry. You should still offer equity in today’s market, but start looking at it like an employee benefit. It’s not something that’s going to seal the deal like a signing bonus. In today’s competitive market, you need both tools to entice an ‘A Player.’ The combination of equity and a signing bonus locks potential employees in with a current reward and a potential future gain if they stay for a while.
How to use these tactics
Equity and signing bonuses are not items that you simply include in a job description, nor do you offer to all potential targets. So, how do you decide when you may need to use these tools to attract potential employees and when to use this lever in order to get an A Player across the finish line?
The best way to do it is through a recruiter that is specifically focused on this unique market and the talent that lives within it. At Enertech Search, we have spent time developing relationships with the top talent, so when their company is being acquired, we are already likely to know who will welcome the acquisition and who will be interested in leveraging their success into a new role. Our deep, long-term, relationships help us understand their career goals before they become targets to dozens of recruiters reacting to the news of another consolidation. With a deep commitment to being allies to both candidates and clients in the smart gird and cleantech space, we assist all parties in navigating the sometimes foggy hiring process. When things go smoothly, the company, the employee, the greentech market and the planet benefit from that success.
Paige Carratturo is the CEO and Founder of the global recruiting firm Enertech Search Partners. The firm exclusively represents growth companies with track records of executing transformative deals, as well as top performing revenue generators in the cleantech, energy and sustainability sectors. Before founding Enertech Search, Paige was a Senior Executive Recruiter of Energy and Technology at Richard, Wayne & Roberts, one of the largest single-office contingency search firms in the country.
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