Time Kills All Deals | HR Fishbowl


When I was building a recruiting engine and a team to support it over in Hyderabad, India for Deloitte, many of my recruiters were fond of saying (to the point of exhaustion) that “time kills all deals.” After all, candidates had options…and lots of them. And to make it harder, the value proposition for the emerging middle class was more about how big the paycheck was going to be and not what intangibles they’d get from signing on with a particular company.  Two certain things in the game of talent acquisition: 1) the longer you keep good candidates waiting, the smaller your chances are for actually converting them, and 2) the better the candidates the less likely they are to wait. I know I’m not sharing anything that most recruiters don’t already get. But I think they sometimes fail take control of the issue; they fail to truly assess their client’s readiness (and their willingness) to devote the time, attention, and effort to support a timely hiring process; they fail to really direct that client’s timely involvement; most importantly they fail to postpone the start until the client is ready. They get a requisition and they jump in feet first…salivating at the promise of a new game. But like a power hitter trying to jump on an off-speed pitch, they get way out in front of it. And then the candidates feel that painful whiff of that bat. Here are some (simple) suggestions.

  • Create a thoughtful and explicit timeline with your client that maps out key milestones along the way; then refer to it often – calling out missed deadlines. The plan should start with the date your client can reasonably issue an offer and then work backwards from there. Having an agreed-upon (documented) finish line will help keep the stakeholders focused.
  • Share that timeline with your candidates up front. Then they at least have reasonable expectations and you don’t look like a fool as you stumble along. As always, under-promise and over-deliver.
  • Don’t…just don’t…bring a candidate in for a face-to-face interview (especially if they have to travel) until your client is ready to commit to an offer in 10 days or less.  It’s a waste of everyone’s time and candidates are anxious for action after a visit to your company…they are excited about the finish line being near.
  • Don’t be afraid to pull the plug if it looks like your client can’t get their act together. Call the candidate and tell them that “you’re sorry, but in deference to their time you want them to know that you’re having trouble getting everyone on board with this process.” Yes, you should take the blame and apologize on the company’s behalf for not being more “with it.”
  • Tell your clients again and again that you are not in a position to convert quality candidates if they are not in a position to take this process seriously. Remind them that every failed process damages your employment brand. Tell them you run a tight ship and you expect them to be on deck when called upon. That’s your role and that’s what they pay you for.

It’s amazing what a recruiting process says about a company to a prospective employee. You’ve already seen my rants on the negative impact of an ineffective ATS. Now consider the even deeper impact of dealing with a company that can’t seem to coordinate or stay committed to a process as simple as interview to offer (sorry, it is simple). You may still have candidates hanging around, but they probably aren’t the ones you really want. And even if you ultimately get an offer into the hands of the candidate you do want, chances are they now have options they wouldn’t have had 60 days ago when you started the damn process. More damaging, though, is that they’re now telling their friends that you can’t get your act together.

What are you doing to fix this issue?

Photo Credit: Katerhineemmons

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