Reasons Why Slow Hiring Process Kills All Deals
By Tom Sorensen
Sunday, 14th January 2024

She told me she had pulled out of the hiring process for a CEO position with a multi-national company.

She and other top candidates met the hiring manager six weeks earlier and no update whatsoever on the process had been forthcoming from the hiring manager or her HR department.

For the record, there was no third-party recruiter involved.

Yes, I know. A coincidence that this was a direct contact between the hiring company and the candidate.

The lack of courtesy and common sense to keep candidates updated happens just as often when a recruitment agency is one of the parties.

Most agencies couldn’t care less and their management fail to live by: What’s Get Measured Gets Done.

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.

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

Time to change clockThe 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 can say no to your job offer

Woman on laptopA 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 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).

What 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 when 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. - PETER DRUCKER

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 on how an effective hiring process will become a competitive advantage to get the best talent on board. Good luck.

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.


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