5 Hiring Insights from Executive Recruiters

As the pandemic continues to take its toll on the work world, Sara Garlick Lundberg of DHR Global spells out some of the main challenges impacting employers, and job candidates.

January 7, 2022 – We are currently in a taxing recruiting environment for employers. How should you react? This morning the Labor Department reported 10 million open jobs and a record ratio of openings to hires. “Add to this a blur of emotions felt as employees and leaders face return-to-work deadlines, childcare concerns, and the Delta variant, and we have a unique and challenging recruiting environment for employers to navigate,” said Sara Garlick Lundberg, a partner in the non-profit practice of DHR Global.

Ms. Lundberg recently spoke with her search colleagues to reflect on the current state of recruiting and its impact on clients and candidates alike. The New Year is often a time to consider new professional directions, she noted. This season, pandemic fatigue is at a peak and candidates are exhausted, said her DHR colleagues. And that is on top of nearly two years of at-home juggling and pandemic-induced work pressures. “Some candidates are navigating a degree of long-term pandemic-induced trauma,” Ms. Lundberg said. “We see exhaustion, feelings of uncertainty and a need to disconnect like we haven’t before. When you meet with a candidate, a simple acknowledgment of the last year and its challenges can be a great way to connect and show your prospective hire that you’re aware of our strained times.”

Calls for Transparency

After decades of good intentions, many non-profits have fallen short on their promise to diversify senior talent and staffs are holding leaders to account, said Ms. Lundberg. She said that they are increasingly supporting clients navigating demands for greater transparency in recruiting – of process, pool creation and selection.

“More and more, hiring is informed by committees or selection teams, with representatives of a range of staff, leadership, and board members. Lean into the change: Increasing the diversity of voices informing the process will lead to more inclusive recruiting practices, which in turn strengthens hiring. It also shares the responsibility of decision making for these hires, which should be a welcome change for leaders,” she noted.

With more than 20 years of leadership experience, Sara Garlick Lundberg specializes in non-profit search consulting, organizational assessment and executive transitions. She works across the health, education, human service, conservation, arts and youth development spaces to secure executive leadership, as well as with CEOs to identify senior talent in the areas of finance, fundraising, operations and research. Her clients have included Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Physicians for Human Rights, Child Mind Institute, New York University and Trust for Public Land.

Evolving Priorities

Compensation expectations are higher, and there are clear differentiators influencing one’s ability to demand a higher salary. The DHR recruiters note that first among them: lived experience. “Organizations are placing higher value than ever on lived experience, though not all are having thoughtful discussions about how lived experience is defined and appreciated,” said Ms. Lundberg. Second is management: 18 months of remote/hybrid work have challenged our leaders in ways no one could have imagined, and experience inspiring and leading teams is more valuable than ever, according to Ms. Lundberg. “Leaders transitioned quickly to remote hiring, but some now struggle to build the culture, relationships and trust that can be so vital to long-term effectiveness,” she said. “As you begin a search, be aware that these two factors will put pressure on the salary you offer.”

Related: Hunt Scanlon’s Top 10 Recruiting Acquisitions of 2021


More than ever, candidates are speaking of participating in multiple concurrent searches, according to Ms. Lundberg. “With 10 million open jobs and widespread remote work, opting into that initial conversation, and even lengthy interviews, is more tempting and easier than ever,” she said. “With the future of work uncertain and burnout on high, some are choosing to shop around at a rate we haven’t seen before. Pay attention to candidate interest levels and ask those you’re most interested in to alert you as other conversations progress.”

Location, Location…

While many leaders are eager to bring teams back to in-person, even in a hybrid format, prospective talent is looking to stay close to home. “Those who have successfully managed the challenges of remote work have grown accustomed to its pace, others have moved to entirely new geographies,” Ms. Lundberg said. “Raise this topic early so that you don’t have any surprises as your search progresses.”

Ms. Lundberg says that DHR is eager to hear from talent acquisition specialists as the year comes to a close. How are current hiring trends affecting open searches? What strategies are helping companies navigate these challenging times?

Among the colleagues Ms. Lundberg reached out to for insights: MaryBeth Nicholas CruzSolade RoweLindsay LandsbergBrandy Russell, Marissa Morey and Buckner Bell.

Related: Hunt Scanlon’s Top 10 Recruiting Stories of 2021

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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