A Game of Speed: Don’t Lose A-Players Because You Are Slow!

Standing out of the crowd

It’s Officially a Candidate Driven Market

As is often the case when market conditions change, companies can be slow to adjust to new a new job environment. From 2008-2013 companies had the luxury of taking their time in an interview process. Toward the end of 2013, and especially in the beginning of 2014, everything changed. The change was sudden. Candidates I had submitted for jobs began disappearing. They began accepting positions within two weeks of deciding to evaluate new opportunities. Many of my clients could not adjust their processes quickly enough to win the best talent.

In 2014, candidates also began receiving more counter offers. Over the course of the last five years, my counter offer ratios hovered between 5-10%. In the first quarter of 2014, those ratios ballooned to 35%. According to the Labor Department, worker productivity grew significantly during the recession. People worked harder just to keep their jobs. Fewer people did more work. As the economy shifted, the cost of losing a productive worker was too much for a company’s bottom line to tolerate. Employers began doing whatever they could, especially financially, to keep their productive employees.

The mix of a better economy (more jobs) and employers making efforts to keep their employees has created a candidate-driven market. When a company is looking to fill a position in a candidate driven market, there are several ways to be more effective at competing for the best talent.

Be Fast; Move on Skilled Candidates

Don’t hesitate on good candidates. It is common for companies to put a candidate through an interview and feel they could do the job well, but then interview a few other candidates just to be sure. Companies can get away with this in an employer-driven market. In a candidate-driven market this is one of the number one ways that companies lose candidates. Once a candidate decides to look, it is very rare they will only look at one opportunity. If you put a good candidate off, they will accept another position. The best hiring authorities I work for, have the confidence to make a decision.

Have a Process and Stick to It.

Set time frames for an interview process and hold those involved in the process accountable to make it a priority. Many processes blow up because Joe in marketing (or engineering, or HR) needs to give his blessing. However, Joe does not have a single 30-minute time slot available for the next three weeks. If a position un-hired does not create pain to a person in the organization, do not make them a part of the process.

Limit the Interview Process to Decision Makers

It’s great to re-affirm company culture. It is wonderful when everyone in a company loves a new hire. However, a good manager will understand his/her culture and be able to manage different personalities. If you have a candidate interview with fifteen people including peers and others they will not interact with, at least one person will not like that candidate. Someone will see them as a threat, think their eyes are too far apart, or not like an answer to a question they asked them in the interview. Other executive or leadership buy in will almost always be necessary, but be a confident enough leader to trust your own instincts and not overdo the number of interviews in the process.

Keep the Interest Level of Candidates You Like

The best way to beat competing employers, whether a candidate’s current employer or a competing third party, is to keep a candidate’s interest level high. A candidate liked by a prospective employer should not go longer than 48 hours in a process without being contacted. In a day of texts, emails, and social media, there is never a time where a hiring authority is too busy to send a ten-second contact. It could be a text that says, “I will call you Thursday,” an email that includes some company marketing material, or even a Linked-In request. Good hiring authorities do not lose touch in an interview process and they sell their organization often.

Moving quickly with clear process and intent will make an employer better than 90% of the companies they are competing with for talent. It is easier than it seems to attract top tier candidates.


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