Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Hiring In-Demand Professionals? If You Snooze, You Could Lose

When I started recruiting IT professionals back in 1990, my boss at the time pulled me into his office one day and explained how “Time Kills All Deals”.  I was a brand new recruiter in 1990 so the timing of Brad’s message in my ears didn't mean much.  As a seasoned security recruiter, I now know more about what Brad tried to explain to me 24 years ago than I ever wanted to know.

Time Kills All Deals
I’ll soon start my 24th year of recruiting later this month.  I could now write a book on the meaning of “Time Kills All Deals” when it comes to acquiring top talent.  I live through this horror story far too often.

The book would be full of sad stories and would be one in which I would write about real stories describing employers who had good intentions but who frequently failed to hire the talent they wanted because they either had no process built around the action of hiring or their process was long and drawn-out.  Long and drawn-out enough for even a passive candidate who wasn’t looking for a job when I first called them to become an active candidate who finds other interesting companies that have moved faster than my clients.

I don't think this book would sell very well.

What If Hiring Managers Were On The Clock?

Last week I caught a few minutes of the NFL 2013 draft.  For a moment, I thought about what it would be like if the companies I recruit for were on the clock just like the coaches and owners of my beloved Pittsburgh Steelers were on the clock to make draft decisions.  

That will never happen but for a moment, I caught myself daydreaming about how much more fun recruiting could be if my clients were all on the draft clock.  If you snooze on NFL draft day, you definitely lose out on the picks you wanted to make.

Job Candidates Are Like Bananas

Instead of writing a book about what goes wrong in the hiring process, I’d rather put my energy into writing a book that gives play-by-play examples of companies I’ve been fortunate to work with that don’t snooze and lose.  There’s an idea!

As recently as Friday, I explained to an overwhelmed CISO client how the lifespan of a recruited candidate’s interest in a new job lasts about as long as the lifespan of a banana when you bring it home from the grocery story.  This CISO is really smart.  By simply bringing up the idea that candidates are like bananas, I shifted his paradigm of thinking from his busy schedule to a discussion in which he could laugh at me and himself.

I like to eat bananas before and after hockey games.  I play hockey 2-3 times per week so I consume a lot of bananas.  When I buy bananas, I like to buy them when they’re still mostly green.  I’m picky about my bananas since I eat so many of them.  It takes only 24-48 hours before a bunch of mostly green bananas turn yellow.  For my taste preference, just when the banana is starting to turn yellow is when I like to consume them.  My wife of course disagrees.  She prefers bananas that are bright yellow and even likes them when the spots start to appear. 

When the brown spots show up, the banana starts to soften.  Approximately 48 to 72 hours later, the lightly spotted banana is so soft and spot covered that I no longer enjoy the taste.  This all happens in a week’s time.

I sat here one day trying to come up with an analogy that everybody could understand to explain the lifespan of a job candidate’s interest level when they’ve gotten excited about the potential of a new job.  As goofy as it is, the lifespan of a banana when it leaves the store and lands on my kitchen counter is very similar to the psychological lifespan of a candidate who is excited about a job opportunity.

It only takes a week with no communication to a job candidate before their interest in a newly presented job starts to diminish.  If you’re a hiring manager, think of the lifespan of a banana when you’re interviewing job candidates.  Put yourself in the shoes of the job candidate and I’ll bet that after a week of silence, your candidates will start to wonder if your company is the right company for them.  This happens in my world all the time and it is a very simple mistake to fix that will cost nothing in the sort-run but pays dividends in the long-run.

A Process Wrapped Around Talent Acquisition

Does your company want top talent?  If so, you need a well-defined talent acquisition process.  Without a well-defined process, you’ll frequently be asking yourself what just happened when a company that values talent acquisition more strategically than yours does keeps beating you to the industry’s best talent.

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