It’s a Tight Marketplace for Executive Talent in Canada. How do Companies Compete?

November 14, 2016

 

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At Argentus, we recruit across the spectrum of jobs in our specialty, everything from entry-level positions all the way to Vice President roles and above. It’s part of what keeps recruitment interesting – the ability to help people find that first job out of university (or their first job in Canada). The ability to turn around and help a company find a highly-strategic business leader with massive impact and responsibility the next day.

Well over the past few weeks, we’ve been working on quite a few of the latter kind of job – VP roles in Procurement and Strategic Sourcing with massive oversight over company spend, as well as major influence to dictate company-wide strategy. These searches are exciting because they’re urgent. They’re an opportunity for us to tap into the network of senior Procurement pros we’ve built over the past fifteen years and assess their interest in what is, for them, a dream job.

But there’s something we want to weigh in on for these leadership searches that companies might not always understand in hiring: the fact that, in Canada especially, it’s an extremely tight job market for Senior Directors, VPS and beyond. Meaning that there aren’t as many qualified candidates as you might expect, and this means companies must be nimble and creative in their hiring to attract the top talent.

The pool of executive talent (especially in a niche like Procurement or Supply Chain) is smaller than you might think, and we think companies need to recognize that before they go to market with a role. At the Director and VP level, lots of big companies start thinking in terms of scale when they’re hiring. I.e. has this VP of Procurement managed more than $500 million in spend?

Make no mistake: Canada is a major industrialized country, and one of the largest economies in the world. But compared to the U.S., China, Germany, etc., it’s important to keep in mind how much of a smaller pond the Canadian talent market actually is. For reference, Canada has 331 companies with $1 billion or more in revenue. Meanwhile, company #1000 on the Forbes 1000 list (Briggs & Stratton) still has revenue of more than $1.8 billion dollars.

That means that (not completely surprisingly) there are tons more people who have managed that scale of spend in the U.S. than in Canada. Sure, there might be about 300 people managing spend in excess of $1 billion in Canada, but when you factor in geography and further skill requirements (past projects, industry and category experience), the list of appropriate candidates starts to become very short indeed.

 Say you’re trying to find a Procurement leader who has managed $10 billion in spend? Well, there are only 48 companies in Canada with revenues of $10 billion or more. Which means that (assuming companies are trying to turn a profit), people who have handled that level of spend at a Canadian company are rare indeed.

So, what can companies do to find these top people? There are a few possibilities:

  • Being more flexible in job requirements. Maybe if someone has shown an ability to handle $500 million of spend as a strategic leader, give them the opportunity to manage a higher level of spend.
  • Consider hiring from the U.S. or other job markets, and consider people from alternate industries.
  • Work as hard as possible to poach that limited pool of people from competitors: offer better benefits, more vacation, a bigger bonus, a quicker and painless hiring process.
  • Go to market and hope the right person comes along, leaving the position open and cost savings on the table.

We think the first three will bear more dividends than the last. logo_icon

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