The go-go days of the '90s are gone, and with them extravagant hiring budgets. Most companies are being more conservative in making offers to candidates. If you're working on a tight hiring budget, how can you make the most of your hiring power? Esther Derby offers some advice on how to increase productivity after the candidate is in the door.

Back in the late '90s, both demand for qualified people and salaries were high. Hiring managers scrambled to make offers within hours of seeing a promising resume, and bidding for the best people was intense. It was a seller's market and qualified candidates could pick and choose from among the top compensation packages.

Those days are gone, at least for now.

Many companies (and candidates) are taking a more sensible and reasoned approach to finding a good fit between the needs and wants of both company and candidate.

But in some companies, the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. Instead of an obsessive focus on chasing the top candidates and offering top salaries, some companies are now focusing on hiring at the lowest salary possible.

My friend Roxanne works for such a company, Pennywise Corp. Pennywise immediately eliminates candidates who are asking for the high end of the salary range for a job. Of the candidates who meet minimum skill qualifications, the job goes to the candidate with the lowest salary requirement-not the best qualified within the range Pennywise can afford.

The people Pennywise is bringing in with this strategy aren't bad people. But as Roxanne points out, "The people the company is hiring don't have the experience to do the work the company wants to do. With all the inexperienced people we're hiring, we're actually falling farther and farther behind."

Even if you aren't working with truly silly hiring policies, you're probably working within a budget and have limits on what you can offer candidates. When you can't find or can't afford the perfect candidate, what can you do to enable less-experienced or less-skilled candidates to do the work you need done?

About the author

Esther Derby's picture Esther Derby

A regular and Better Software magazine contributor, Esther Derby is one of the rare breed of consultants who blends the technical issues and managerial issues with the people-side issues. She is well known for helping teams grow to new levels of productivity. Project retrospectives and project assessments are two of Esther's key practices that serve as effective tools to start a team's transformation. Recognized as one of the world's leaders in retrospective facilitation, she often receives requests asking her to work with struggling teams. Esther is one of the founders of the AYE Conference. She co-author of Agile Retrospectives: Making Good Teams Great. She has presented at STAREAST, STARWEST and the Better Software Conference & EXPO. You can read more of Esther's musings on the wonderful world of software at and on her weblog at Her email is

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