Dotcom challenge grows with insight

There is no doubt that recruiting for new economy companies is more difficult now than it was three months ago when it was relatively easy to take people out of traditional bricks and mortar businesses and put them into dot coms.

The problems high-profile dot coms have encountered over the past couple of months coupled with over-valued Internet stocks have led to this shake-out. There is more caution from investors and potential candidates who have a greater degree of realism about working in the Internet world.

Candidates need to be “kept warm” as it is very much an employees’ market. Interviews must be decisive and interviewers cannot protract the screening process if they are to be successful in securing high-calibre candidates.

There is a shortage of skills for some people, counter-offering is rife and the market is highly competitive. There is a huge demand for people with similar skills sets. It is also worth mentioning that some very average people are overpaid.

We recently undertook an interim assignment for an HR director for an Internet start-up. When we met last week he gave me a useful insight. He said, “the company was chaotic, completely disorganised and would change its strategy on a daily basis”. He also said that people coming into the business needed to be very flexible and able to operate in unstructured environments.

These comments are not atypical and broadly reflect the types of challenges faced by those recruiting into e-business.

Ian Mullet is a consultant in the IT practice of Odgers Ray & Berndtsen,

e-assignment tips

• Get the most detailed brief possible on the candidate. What are their skills and how are these skills likely to develop in the future?. Watch out for people who will have achieved all they can in six months.

• People who are used to dealing with change and can adapt quickly will be more likely to thrive.

• Manage the expectations of the person who is to join. The job spec they interviewed for is unlikely to stay the same for long. Seek people who find this an attraction.

• Remember that everyone needs to be an all-rounder – multi skills sets are key. This may even mean being prepared to make the coffee and open the post from time to time.

• A simple rule for keeping people on board is to maintain interest levels and keep the challenges coming.

• In Europe, equity is ad hoc and there are no precise models. Some candidates will have a firm idea of what they want and others will need guidance and may have questions of what this will mean in reality.

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