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The talent snatchers Companies, finally hiring again, are coming after your people

James Sapirstein is the CEO of ContraVir Pharmaceuticals in Edison. At least, he is today.

James Sapirstein is the CEO of ContraVir Pharmaceuticals in Edison. At least, he is today.

Sapirstein has had three C-suite jobs since 2012, never staying with any one company longer than 18 months.

But if you think Sapirstein represents a me-first executive who doesn’t understand the value of loyalty — the type of employee you would never want to have at your company — you’d better think again.

Human resources and recruiting experts say Sapirstein represents the reality of the hiring process of today, one that is dramatically shifting the advantage to employees.

One that has turned companies into poachers.

With the economic downturn all but behind them, companies are looking to hire for the first time in years — and they are looking to hire top-level talent.

The only problem?

There isn’t much talent out there.

Executives such as Sapirstein, a startup and turnaround specialist with 30 years of pharmaceutical and biotechnology experience, are a hot commodity. And are constantly being pursued.

Welcome to the Great Talent War.

“A few years ago, thousands of people were looking for work, and were much more willing to accept less,” Sapirstein said. “Now, it’s an employee’s game — not just in terms of compensation, but also of having increased interest and a say in how much responsibility they have and the type of work they’re going to be a part of.”

Christina Giglio, division director at the global staffing firm Robert Half in Princeton, agrees.

Speaking at a recent New Jersey Technology Council conference on the subject, she warned companies that people are going to start poaching their top talent.

“The market is very good,” she said. “And the talent pool is very small.”

So don’t assume, Giglio warned, that your employees aren’t on the market. They are — whether they realize it or not.

“Seven years ago, when it was an employer’s market … you could have had employees working overtime still thinking, ‘At least I have a job,’ ” Giglio said.

“That’s not the case today. Your best employees are taking calls every day.”

— — —

According to Forbes, 86 percent of U.S. employees are looking for work outside their current occupations.

This is based on a number of factors.

For starters, there’s no such thing as company loyalty anymore. That happens after nearly a decade of companies treating their employees with little appreciation (raise your hand if you went multiple years without a raise) or worse (raise your hand if you’ve been laid off or know others who have, through no fault of their own).

There’s the impact of the millennial generation, which has showed older employees there’s no harm or shame in job-hopping.

And then there’s the process itself.

The ease of technology today has made it easier than ever to post throngs of online resumes and public portfolios for recruiters to see. And senior employees are finally discovering such readily available avenues to learn about new opportunities, connect and meet with people outside their organization.

And employees are needed.

The seemingly unnatural purge of employees due to layoffs is quickly being followed by a more common one: retirement.

Which is why Julie Kampf, CEO of JBK Associates — a boutique talent solutions firm in Englewood Cliffs — can’t believe more of her clients aren’t currently talking about this.

“Seventy-six million baby boomers will be retiring; 10,000 people a day,” Kampf said. “Only 44 million GenXers will come into management roles — leaving a 32 million-plus gap.”

According to ManpowerGroup’s 2014 Talent Shortage Survey, this generational skills gap caused 40 percent of U.S. employers to report talent shortages last year — the highest percentage in seven years.

Meg Fry

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