Not long ago I got an email from a senior executive candidate, who was in the running of becoming the new Managing Director for a multi-national company. He explained that he had pulled out of the hiring process.
He and other top candidates met the client five weeks earlier and to the date he emailed me, no update on the process had been forthcoming. He was asking if he was still in it or perhaps already taken out of the hiring process.
Are you surprised?
This should not be a surprise to you. There is no way you will impress senior executives with a slow recruitment process. Period.
Very likely there is no scientific study to capture the exact amount of time a person can stay excited about a new career opportunity, but there is no doubt that excitement fizzles over time and the amount of time is shorter than you might think.
Candidates are a perishable commodity. Talented candidates will assess a potential employer on a variety of points. Timeliness or responsiveness is often where the candidate is lost. To be more specific, I should perhaps say the lack of timeliness and responsiveness. Resumes may look like a pile of paperwork on your desk, but they really are not.
Headhunters actively encourage their clients to react quickly to shortlists to give the candidate the impression that their interest in an organisation is being taken seriously and given importance. Each resume is a real person that your headhunter has cultivated, screened, and convinced to meet with your company.
Time kills all deals
The people presented to you are waiting to hear from you to find out when you wish to move to the interviewing process with them. Time kills all deals and you must respond quickly to resumes presented to you. It is vital that shortlisted candidates do not have to wait too long for feedback.
To complete a successful executive search, it’s crucial to keep the momentum and move forward as quickly as you can. Don’t forget that most candidates from headhunters are sitting in good positions already and do not necessarily need your job.
Candidates do say no to your job offers
A talented candidate is the headhunter’s product. But it’s the only product I know of that can speak – and that “product” can say no. And if that happens, you will have lost important sales, man-hours, or whatever it is for that function, as your search process then starts all over again.
By definition, available positions that you need to fill and where you decided to seek external help from executive search or recruitment firms are by default called difficult-to-fill positions.
But keep in mind that the executive search firms specialise in this field and have the capability of finding qualified and hard-to-secure talented candidates. They will put people in front of you that match the profile you have given.
You should be aware though, it’s going to be up to you to attract them to your organisation. You must convince them that their careers will be better served with your organisation than where they are. You need to close the deal (in this case your preferred candidate).
The late Peter Drucker said
The Economist published a report some years ago on the subject, “The search for talent (Why it’s getting harder to find)”. One of their conclusions was there is not enough talent to go around and the ability to identify and retain talent will be a key task in the years to come. Sure, not much has changed since then. But why are there still too many times where companies don’t get it right?
The late Peter Drucker estimated that a third of recruitment decisions were failures. A staggering 25 years ago he wrote in Harvard Business Review:
“Executives spend more time on managing people and making people decisions than on anything else. And they should.
No other decisions are so long lasting in their consequences or so difficult to unmake.”
There you have it. You can learn from FMCG companies, how they use speed as a competitive weapon. A key to their success is developing the speed-to-market approach.
When it comes to identifying and hiring staff, CEO’s, hiring managers and HR practitioners need to develop a best practice playbook how an effective hiring process will become a competitive advantage to get the best talent on-board. Good luck.