Events Jul 06, 2018

As part of a Shake & Learn cycle on recruitment, Christophe de Bueil, Executive Search Digital at Grant Alexander, focused this second session on digital-savvy business profiles. What are their expectations, how can you attract them, what type of salary are they looking for? These are some of the questions he addressed.


The expectations of this young highly educated generation with 2 to 5 years work experience are completely different from older graduates. They tend to have the down-side of their qualities: they are impatient and are looking for agility, responsibility and prospects. They want to impact the organization quickly. All of this complicates the task for recruiters. Remember that today, millennials care more about job environment than salary. The fine line between work and private life is increasingly porous: millennials want to be able to work from home and would struggle to accept a job located in the La Defense area.

It is essential to differentiate startups from traditional / large corporate groups.
- Traditional groups: They should assume that they are not a 100 % digital player. They need to leverage both the power of their brand, well-recognized by the general public, and their employer brand. Just putting a table-football game and some sofas in a cozy lounge will not help them to attract digital-savvy talents: they need to prepare the arrival of these external people in advance, by explaining internally the necessity to attract this type of talent. There shouldn’t be a mismatch between reality and what they have sold to their candidates.
- Startups: Six months ago, offering agility in a fun atmosphere and in a trendy location was enough to attract millennials. This is no longer true. Today, there is tremendous competition amongst startups. Talents have more choice, and as a result, are more demanding. Candidates now want to be able to project themselves, to work in a structuring environment and to clearly understand their future employer’s vision and missions. So, just because you are a startup doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t organize a meeting at mid-trial period.

There are global trends but it is difficult to give a specific grid. What is essential is to pay the market price. Just like in the real estate market.
- Traditional groups: They face the issue of maintaining coherency between the salaries of internal talents who have been around for a while and new recruits. There are no miracle solutions and it is difficult not to create tension internally. The solution lies in offering benefits such as an enterprise works council, equity participation, benefits in kind and so on, which will inflate the fixed salary base. The equation should be: 80 % fixed salary / 20 % variable.
- Startups: Again, startups need to pay the right price. They should use equity distribution to link candidate performance to company performance. This is key to compensating the lack of benefits in kind and to boosting motivation. Startups should also quickly put in place a salary grid, so that talents know which salary increase they will get on reaching their target.

- Business developer in Startups: When startups grow fast, their business model changes and it becomes necessary to recruit senior profiles. Talents who have been working in a small startup since its creation and have seen it grow may want to leave as they miss the fun atmosphere of the early days. These experienced talents are interested in joining a young startup again. To attract them, startups should offer them a decent salary. While it is difficult to change their fixed salary, an equity participation could be a good way to attract them.

-Product managers:
- Category 1 product manager with 2 to 5 years’ experience: 50K€ to 60K€
- Senior product manager: 60K€ to 80K€
- Head product manager (with a team): > 80K€

The market is very tight. As demand is greater than offer, we are seeing outrageous salaries for developers. But money is not the only motivation for millennials who are increasingly looking for meaning and values. They want to work in a company that will have a positive impact on society. Compte Nickel is a good example. Salary can be compensated by other aspects.
- Chief Digital Officer: In my view, these profiles will eventually disappear. Today, the key challenge for companies is not the digital revolution but transformation full stop. Chief Transformation Officer or Chief Innovation Officer are senior profiles who are responsible for making the organization more agile. They need to be able to identify the tools that are capable of changing the business. Cross-functionality is key: they need to break silos.



“Grandes écoles” are still highly sought after, but things have changed a lot. 20 years ago, HEC graduates would become traders and Polytechnique (X) graduates would work in fundamental research. This is no longer true: they now do the same job around data, focusing on analytical jobs such as data scientists. And they prefer to join a startup than a large corporate group. Five years ago, talents coming from the French “grandes écoles” wanted to join large well-known groups, today they want to work in the digital world.



Globally, the variable part of a salary is key and should stand at around 15-20 % of total remuneration. Today, you can use KPIs to measure the performance of any job. A variable is a win-win approach.
Whenever possible, it’s good to recruit a HR profile to deal with HR issues and establish a true HR policy and employer brand strategy.
In the digital world, talents tend to stay in the same position for 12-15 months. Generally, we tend to say that it is unusual if a person stays less than one year or more than 5 in the same job. Keep in mind that business & digital-savvy profiles are always aware of what is going on in the market, as the startup world moves fast. Make sure you regularly ask them how they are doing. Millennials need to feel that they are involved.




Q/ How much should a technical profile such as CTO with 10 years’ experience be paid?
This position has a more business-focus profile than before. A good CTO earns at least 80K€ or even up to 110K€ with a 20 % variable. In an early stage startup, they expect between 0,5% and 3% equity participation.

Q / When talents leave a startup, does it happen more by waves or by individual departures?
It often happens by waves: if the marketing director leaves, you can expect some or all of his team to follow her/him. This is the same in the digital industry as people are less shy about talking about their salary and their frustrations. Salary is still a reason for departure even if work environment remains the number one criteria. It is important to remain vigilant as you can always anticipate one’s departure!




Wish you were here?

Don't miss our next event and register on our Meetup group to be invited to our next talks!