Athletes, Beer and Champagne

Jun 15, 2010

We have had a couple of situations that transpired the past few weeks that I believe warrant a post. Let me start by saying that in my line of work, I am exposed to some of the best and brightest at all levels. Two of which deserve mentioning as they have the perfect outlook to build a company.

The first is Scott Jones, the pioneer who developed modern voicemail, and a high velocity company called ChaCha. I always fancied myself as having an overdeveloped sense of urgency;  a “relentlessness” as it were- Scott showed me the true meaning of what that could mean as the speed and velocity of which they move at ChaCha is something to witness. He also lives and believes in the idea of athletes in business. Rather than focusing on a narrow scope for skills, find the person that has the ability to do more, and the desire to push the envelope. That is the person that you go after from a talent management perspective.

I recently heard the same theory from Chris Baggott of Compendium Blogware. He also is of the mindset of hiring the best person that is on the market, even if it is not the initial need for the role.  The analogy that Chris used and I have heard from Scott, is a comparison to the NFL draft (we are all football fans, right?). If you are on the market for a great DB as your secondary is weak and slow, but you run across a linebacker or end that may be the best to come out in years, you take the high potential prospect…every day. That sense of hiring the best rather than a skill set or even a background allows companies to be nimble, agile and have the ability to do more with less. This belief in business that translates into actions in their respective companies is but one reason that they excel from a personnel standpoint.

Now you may feel somewhat set up by the transition, but I shared the above to be able to discuss beer and champagne. Not the actual drinks, but rather the analogy used by many; the “champagne taste on a beer budget” phenomenon that exists in this market.  More times than I care to recall I have seen companies fall in love with a candidate, have that feeling returned from the prospective employee, and have things stall and fall apart at the offer stage. Just as a standard rule of thumb, if a candidate is currently making “X” as a salary, they will not take “X-10K” as a base; unless of course their current position is one where they have their fingernails and toenails pulled daily….or maybe one where they are forced to watch Hugh Grant movies. Outside of those two scenarios, I cannot imagine a situation where a candidate even entertains that idea. We hear “We love the candidate”; or maybe “They have the perfect skill set”- Something to that effect. However, that is then followed by “We only want to offer this_______”. This offer is invariably lower than the candidate’s current compensation, and sometimes by as much as 28% less. Just as a standard rule of thumb……THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT THAT OFFER!!!! NO. NOT TODAY.NOT TOMORROW. NOT AFTER A DRINK. JUST NO! The rationale, though it may make logical or even business sense, does not make people sense.

People do not usually take a step back without an opportunity to make it up on the back end without some travesty happening as the catalyst for that change. This is where there sometimes is a disconnect between companies and the market. Great talent, as with most high end items, carries a premium price.

A 1981 Chevrolet Citation (don’t judge me- that was my first car) will still get you to the grocery store, but it may do it slower and less efficient than a 2010 Cadillac CTS-V or possibly the new Audi S8 (just for fun, let’s compare and the other ). Those latter cars obviously cost more than the Citation, but the increased level of performance and ability warrant the difference in price. With that being said, why is it so difficult for companies to adjust their perspective based on what they wish to offer as a base? $85K as a salary nets a certain talent; as does $45K. But you will not get the $85K talent for the $45K.  Remember the athlete scenario…hire the best and brightest and it all washes out.

To companies…know what the talent you want costs. Ask a Profyler, we talk to these candidates every day.

To candidates….believe that there is a value for your skill set. Our clients know and understand that value.

Be Relentless,


About the author

Doug Rowe wrote 23 articles on this blog.

My experience is in matching top talent with the opportunities that meet their career goals while simultaneously exceeding the requirements of my clients. I believe that the cultural and environmental fit is as important if not more so than the technical. This personality and culture matching is where I excel.