Ellen Warden, SPHR
WorkPlace Synergy, LLC
Atlanta, GA

Do you find yourself walking the fine line between finding and grinding?  Are you frequently juggling new business and client service? I talk regularly with owners of Business Valuation firms who feel they can’t sell more or they can’t serve more clients, because they may not have the capacity. 

If you are successful at business development, but haven’t developed talented staff, you will be pulled away constantly from business-development activities to fill holes in your team to serve your clients. Walking this tightrope requires focus and balance.  Successful firms balance their business development with talent development.

One best practice is to build a pipeline of qualified, relevant candidates in anticipation of future hiring needs.  Talent pipelining is about attracting and engaging the best people as an ongoing endeavor — not just when a need appears. A well-built pipeline ensures you are never without a pool of potential candidates – whether you are ready to hire right now or a year from now – so you never have to start at square one when it comes to hiring.

Have you ever made a bad hire?  If so, you are not alone.  According to a recent survey by CareerBuilder, 69% of employers made a bad hire in 2012.  The need to fill a position quickly was the cause in 43% of cases.  This kind of hiring urgency can be even more pronounced in small BV firms where the loss of a single team member can mean losing the ability to take care of current clients, or may bring your business development to a grinding halt. Proactively developing and maintaining a stable of talent is the key to avoiding a hiring decision amidst panic.

Filling a talent pipeline is about building relationships, not a database.  It often starts with a focus on professionals who aren’t seeking employment today, or are perhaps passively looking for an opportunity. Identify and connect with them, and keep them engaged over an extended period of time. 

Research shows that employees tend to leave organizations following times of economic or organizational change, and today is no exception. While BV firms are faced with the challenge to retain their highest performers right now, they also have the opportunity to capture talent from their competitors.  Firm leaders who make the effort to build their pipeline with these passive job seekers will be top of mind when those candidates are ready to make the leap.

  • Become a talent spotter, and engage your employees to do the same.  As with any business strategy, talent pipelining is most successful when you have commitment and buy-in at all levels. 
  • Ask for referrals.  Many firm leaders make asking for new business a part of their daily routine – asking for employment referrals should be part of that routine as well.  Your clients and professional contacts already trust you enough to make referrals for business and they will be willing to do the same for potential job candidates.
  • Cast a wider net.  Professional recruiters are in the talent marketplace day in and day out and have access to individuals you aren’t aware of. Maintaining on-going relationships with BV recruiters will educate them about your business and potential needs, and present you with another source to fill a void in your professional staff.
  • Become an employer of choice.  Building a reputation as a firm that actively develops employees and helps them meet their full potential is vital to attracting top quality applicants and referrals from your business network.  Sharing your successes helps your firm become the place to go for ambitious, driven BV professionals. 

What are you doing to establish and build relationships with candidates whose skills align with your future needs? 

Ellen Warden
Ellen Warden