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

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

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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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The Counteroffer

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While counter-offers may be tempting and even flattering, there can be pitfalls that you need to be aware of. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Why weren’t you valuable enough to receive the salary / promotion yesterday?
  • Will your loyalty always be in question?
  • If there are future cutbacks, will you be the first to go because of concerns about your loyalty?
  • If you accept the counter-offer for more money, are you just giving your employer the time they need to locate and select your replacement?
  • Will your career track remain blocked if you accept it?
  • Will your responsibilities be expanded?
  • Will you have to report to a person you don’t respect?
  • Will you receive next year’s raise or bonus early?
  • Is the counter-offer a ploy to avoid a short-term inconvenience by your employer?
  • What are your realistic chances for promotions now that you have considered leaving?

Counteroffer Statistics

According to national surveys of employees that accept counter-offers, 50-80 percent voluntarily leave their employer within six months of accepting the counter-offer because of unkept promises. The majority of the balance of employees that accept counter-offers involuntarily leave their current employers within twelve months of accepting the counter-offer (terminated, fired, laid off, etc.).

As attractive as counter-offers may appear, they greatly decrease your chances of achieving your career potential.


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Resigning Gracefully

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Resigning Gracefully

Congratulations! You’ve landed the job! Now you are faced with the delicate challenge of resigning from your current employer without burning bridges, and saying good-bye to friends and colleagues.

Your Consulting recruiter will help you draft your resignation letter. Then, you will make an appointment with your manager to respectfully explain your decision. Your manager needs to hear that your decision is firm and final and that you are committed to your new employer. Express appreciation for the opportunities that your former employer has given you.

Be careful not to get lured into any discussions other than your resignation, such as how your employer wants to handle your final weeks or the transition of your current responsibilities and projects.


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Do’s and Dont’s

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Interviewing Do’s

  • Arrive 15 minutes early. Tardiness is never excusable.
  • Clarify questions. Answer the interviewer’s questions as specifically as possible. Relate your skills and background to the position requirements throughout the interview.
  • Give your qualifications. Focus on accomplishments that are most pertinent to the job.
  • Be professional. Smile, make eye contact, and maintain good posture.
  • Anticipate tough questions. Prepare to turn perceived weaknesses into strengths.
  • Dress appropriately. Make your first impression a professional one.
  • Ask questions. An interview should be a mutual exchange of information, not a one-sided conversation.
  • Listen. Concentrate not only on the interviewer’s words, but also on the tone of voice and body language. Once you understand how the interviewer thinks, pattern your answers accordingly and you will be able to establish a better rapport.

Interviewing Don’ts

  • Don’t bring up salary, benefits or time off especially in the initial interview.
  • Don’t answer vague questions. Ask the interviewer to clarify fuzzy questions.
  • Don’t interrupt the interviewer. If you don’t listen, the interviewer won’t either.
  • Don’t be disrespectful. Don’t smoke, chew gum or place anything on the interviewer’s desk.
  • Don’t be overly familiar, even if the interviewer is.
  • Don’t wear heavy perfume or cologne. The interviewer may not share your tastes.
  • Don’t ramble. Overlong answers may make you sound apologetic or indecisive.
  • Don’t lie. Answer questions truthfully.
  • Don’t express bitterness. Avoid derogatory remarks about present or former employers.

Closing the Interview

Job candidates often second-guess themselves after interviews. By asking good questions and closing strongly, you can reduce post-interview doubts. If you feel that the interview went well and you want to take the next step, express your interest to the interviewer.

Try an approach like the following: “After learning more about your company, the position and responsibilities, I believe that I have the qualities you are looking for. Are there any issues or concerns that would lead you to believe otherwise?”

This is an effective closing question because it opens the door for the hiring authority to be honest with you about his or her feelings. If concerns do exist, you may be able to create an opportunity to overcome them, and have one final chance to dispel the concerns, sell your strengths and end the interview on a positive note.

A few things to remember during the closing process

  • Don’t be discouraged if an offer is not made or a specific salary is not discussed. The interviewer may want to communicate with colleagues or conduct other scheduled interviews before making a decision.
  • Make sure that you have thoroughly answered these questions during the interview: “Why are you interested in our company?” and “What can you offer?” Express appreciation for the interviewer’s time and consideration.
  • Ask for the interviewer’s business card so you can write a thank you letter as soon as possible.


After your interview, follow-up is critical.  Write down any important information learned during the interview.  Think of the qualifications the employer is looking or and match your strengths to them.  A “thank you” letter or email should be written no later than 24 hours after the interview.  Be sure to call your recruiter to discuss your interview and your next steps as well.

Interviewing Tips

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Before you interview for a position, learn as much about it and the employer as possible. If you found the position through a recruiter, he or she should be able to provide that information for you. If not, conduct research on the Web, visit the library, and tap into industry contacts.

Questions To Ask

After you have studied the company, make a list of questions to ask the employer:

  • Why is this position available?
  • What are your goals for this position?
  • How will my performance be evaluated?
  • What opportunities are there for growth in the next 12 months?

Questions You May Be Asked

Your recruiter should be able to give you a good idea of the hiring authority’s personality, his or her typical interview demeanor, and a few important questions that the employer is likely to ask:

  • Tell me about yourself.
    Keep your answer in the professional realm only. Review your past positions, education and other strengths.
  • Why are you interested in this position?
    Relate how you feel your qualifications match the job requirements. Also, express your desire to work for the employer.
  • What are the most significant accomplishments in your career?
    Identify recent accomplishments that relate to the position and its requirements.
  • Describe a situation in which your work was criticized.
    Focus on how you resolved the situation and became a better person because of the experience.
  • What do you know about our organization?
  • How would you describe your personality?
  • How do you perform under pressure?
  • What have you done to improve yourself over the past year?
  • What did you like least about your last position?
  • Are you leaving (did you leave) your present (last) company?
  • What is your ideal working environment?
  • How would your co-workers describe you?
  • What do you think of your boss?
  • Have you ever fired anyone?
  • What was the situation and how did you handle it?
  • What are your goals in your career?
  • Where do you see yourself in two years?
  • Why should we hire you?
  • What kind of salary are you looking for?
  • What other types of jobs/companies are you considering?
Resume/CV Tips

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Your resume is your most important calling card in your job search. It should include the following information:

  • Contact information. Include phone (home, work, cell), mail and email information. In addition, make sure your voicemail message is professional. A message that is too casual can create a negative impression.
  • Career objective. You may choose to list or not list your career objective. If objective doesn’t match the recruiter’s needs, you may miss out on a golden opportunity. However, a clearly stated career objective can help your recruiter find your ideal career match.
  • Summary statement. Your summary should be brief.
    • Include your title and years of experience.
    • List pertinent skills.
    • Discuss your character traits or work style.
  • Professional experience. List each position held in reverse chronological order, dating back at least ten years. If you held multiple positions within the same company, list them all to show advancement and growth. The body of each position description should describe your responsibilities and accomplishments.
  • Other components. Include education, professional training, affiliations/appointments, licenses, technical skills and languages

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