For many employers, August is that time of the year when a certain level of easy-going attitude is accepted. In fact, there’s a compelling argument that says employers would do well to encourage a little relaxation during that final month before the September ramp up. It’s not just the call of the sun, the beaches or the longer daylight hours, after all. For parents of young children, it’s also a last call for a few lazy mornings, maybe even a family vacation, before the school year begins again.
That’s all very nice, of course, for everybody at the office…
Except you, if you’re a manager with an open job posting.
I hate to be the one to say it, but you don’t get to put your hiring process on the slow burner. Not even in long, lazy days of August. Let me take that one step further: you need to move at rocket speed, even if the job hasn’t been posted yet. Why? Because the minute word gets out that an open position exists, you’ll likely get questions, informal inquiries and personal referrals from people whose opinions you respect.
Taking your sweet time to respond meaningfully to qualified candidates turns them off, steers them away and does serious damage to your ability to compete with other employers. I’m not suggesting that you should race through every hiring process at a break-neck pace. Recklessness leads to terrible hires. But I am saying that you would be well served to remember the value of controlled speed.
Consider these three ways that managers who drag out their process end up hurting themselves, their teams and their organizations.
1. You’ll lose the best candidates (to your competition).
Great talent just doesn’t hang around, waiting for you to pick up the phone. If they’re motivated to move, they’ve been reaching out to multiple potential employers. And if they weren’t motivated? Today’s super fast, super targeted executive recruiters have found them, engaged them and gotten them motivated. Realistically today, your dream candidate is likely to be courted by multiple employers and even receive more than one offer. Staying stuck in the process – and time frame – does not result in a bigger, better pool of talent. It results in you sorting through a short stack of Plan B resumes. When highly talented individuals decide to move, they move. Fast. They want an employer who operates the same way.
2. You risk lost productivity and potential revenue.
When unfilled positions stay vacant for months, you undermine the morale and productivity of everyone else on the team. Put another way: people get cranky when they’re asked to forge ahead, carrying more than their fair share. If the position is a revenue-generating one, you are making deep cuts into your own P&L with every day that goes by without the new hire on board. But I would also argue that every position worth hiring is a position that adds measurable value. When you delay the hiring of supervisors, marketing staff, customer service reps, and quality monitors, you also diminish the potential and performance of your own organization.
3. And that brings us back to your brand: it takes a hit when you mess with top prospects.
Whenever you’re tempted to give yourself a sweet summertime break from the tediousness of writing the job posting, screening, interviewing and advocating for top candidates to your senior management, fight that temptation. Instead, put yourself in the shoes of the candidate. He’d like to go to the beach, too. But he’s job hunting. He’s taking it seriously. And he’s talking to employers who are like-minded. When you take days to respond to messages, forever to schedule interviews and then let the whole thing fall into the black hole of August, he doesn’t just waft away and sign on with somebody better. Jilted or otherwise annoyed candidates don’t just cry in their beer to a couple of buddies. Today’s tech savvy talent tells the world, via twitter, Facebook and yes, employment specific sites like glassdoor.com. Even having the appearance of being a wishy-washy, disorganized or overwhelmed manager reflects horribly on you.
Plod along at your peril.
Simply put, in this market, you can’t afford a slow hiring process. Not even in August. And if your organization uses outdated, slow application and follow up systems, you’ve already cursed your chances of making a positive first impression. Sometimes, the first impression is the only chance you get.