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  • How to secure your ideal candidate

  • Hard to find; easy to lose
    High quality candidates are in great demand. All too often however, our clients let them slip through the net  resulting in the need to keep vacancies open for longer than planned or having to settle for the next best candidate. 

    Our experience tells us that there are 2 key reasons for this:

    Delays in the recruitment process

    Salary negotiation breakdown 


    Delays in the recruitment process

    The end to end recruitment process can at times be a long drawn out process. It typically takes our clients 3 - 4 months to fill an executive vacancy, with 25% of assignments taking at least six months. Therefore, considerable time and financial investment are required on your part and once you’ve identified the ideal candidate for a job role, losing that individual due to unforeseen delays is the last thing you want.

    The candidate mindset: why they may decide not to join
    Prolonged delays in the recruitment process can be a real cause for frustration for candidates who have mentally decided to forge ahead with their career plans - only to find that the potential employer is on ‘go slow’. They could start doubting whether or not they should join your organisation on the basis that if it takes this length of time to make a recruitment decision, how long will it take to make long and short term business decisions? It also casts a doubt as to whether they are actually wanted by you or not.

    Susceptible to the counter offer
    This level of uncertainty in the candidate’s mind could also increase their susceptibility to succumb to any one of the several retention techniques their current employer could apply in a bid to retain their employment.

    The risk of losing your preferred candidate
    The risk therefore to you as a prospective employer is that the candidate you have expressed a real interest in - and indeed is in short supply - could potentially withdraw from the process or take up a competitor offer. With this, comes of course the performance and budgetary implications of having an unfilled vacancy for any length of time.

    The true cost of recruitment delays – for you
    There is a painful cost attached to delays experienced during the recruitment process. During such time business opportunities can be missed, decisions may be stalled, corporate direction may be lost and staff morale can suffer. That’s why an increasing number of clients are looking to us to rapidly supply an interim manager, to plug the gap while they find their permanent appointee.

    The true cost of recruitment delays – for the candidate
    Let’s not forget that the candidate may suffer too. The recruitment process can be a distraction and they may find it increasingly difficult to concentrate fully on their existing duties, which in turn, could have implications on their individual performance, subsequent pay awards and other promotional or career opportunities.

    How to minimise recruitment process delays
    There’s much that can be done to avoid recruitment process delays. Quality candidates are in short supply, with many of them courting more than one potential employer at a time. You are essentially entering a race to secure their employment. It’s up to you therefore to minimise any recruitment process delays. Our advice would be to forward plan and have contingencies in place to circumvent any delays should they arise. From our experience, eight reasons for prolonged delays are common across our client base and are detailed below:

    1. Headcount approval
    Hiring managers often embark upon assignments whereby headcount approval is pending. This is not ideal as it can sometimes take months for approval to come through. Worse still, there is always the possibility that it may not come through at all. We have also experienced situations whereby prior approved headcount is revoked during the recruitment process. Our recommendation is to wait until you have the relevant sign off before instructing us to proceed with the assignment. We can always assist by carrying out a database search as a preliminary measure before headcount approval has been signed off.

    2. Job description availability
    Lack of a specific job description can slow down the candidate attraction process and more often than not, lead to a mismatch between candidate supply and role requirement. All too often we are asked to take on assignments without corresponding job descriptions. In order to ensure that we can provide the right quality of candidates for your consideration, a well constructed job description comprising of the role and responsibilities, person specification, salary package, location, reporting line and any other supporting information is an absolute must.

    3. Clearly defined timescales
    Where possible we would recommend that you have clearly defined timelines in place. This should indicate start and end dates for the whole process with specific date ranges booked out for reviewing shortlists, conducting first and subsequent interviews and arriving at the decision whether to progress with a candidate or not. With this information, we are able to manage candidate expectations, provide them with sufficient advance notice of potential interviews and work towards supplying a quality shortlist for your consideration. A defined schedule of this kind will reduce slippage which can be so costly to your business.

    4. Deciding on shortlists
    Hiring managers are sometimes guilty of not being decisive enough when reviewing shortlists and will often take days and sometimes weeks to come to a decision on whether to interview or not. This may well be as a result of working with more than one recruiter, but more often than not, is a result of day to day business activities taking priority. Again, having clearly defined timescales combined with shrewd business planning should serve to avoid such delays.

    5. Committing to interview dates
    Where we have been given diary time in advance for interviews facilitation, it is imperative that the interviewer commits to these dates. All too often, we find ourselves in a situation where an interview has been confirmed in advance for it to be cancelled at short notice. It is worth remembering that the candidate may have taken time off as holiday or shifted business priorities to accommodate the interview. Cancelling interviews could therefore not only create a poor impression but could jeopardise securing that one candidate who could have been ideal for your vacancy.

    6. HR : Hiring manager communication
    We often experience a breakdown in communication between the HR function and Hiring Managers. In such situations, HR may not have appreciated the urgent business requirement of a hire and may have been slow in turning offer letters around.

    7. Seal of approval; final sign-off
    Lack of availability of senior managers to participate in the final stage interview process can also slow down the process, often by up to several weeks. In addition, we often experience delays whereby the offer requires approval from a senior signatory. If the designated signatory is not available and there is no provision for delegated authority, the process can get held up for up to several days at this final stage.

    8. Is urgent really urgent?
    All too often we receive a frantic call from a client asking us to commence an assignment with the utmost of urgency. However a lack of any one or more of the following soon puts the brakes on and stalls the whole process: job description, agreement of salary structure, clarity of reporting lines, availability of interviewers and headcount sign-off. Of course, the whole process can be further exacerbated by having to commence the search activity from the beginning again because your preferred candidate has been snapped up by a competitor in the meantime. Therefore, we would advise that before you embark on any recruitment drive, ensure that all of the above points have been duly considered and managed.

    Salary negotiation breakdown

    So after weeks of searching, shortlisting, screening and interviewing, you finally find the ideal candidate for your vacancy. All that remains is to make an offer, wait for the candidate to accept and agree a start date.
    At times, it really is this simple. However, on numerous occasions we find the whole process can stall at this final stage if the offer made is not at a sufficient level. This may sound obvious, but it happens much too frequently.

    Know what the salary expectation is
    We strongly recommend that you take into consideration a potential candidate’s current and expected salary package well before the final interview. This begins with qualifying this information at the shortlist stage. We recommend that you invite to interview those candidates that are strong on paper, irrespective of their current or expected salary levels (provided of course this is within a reasonable range). Thereafter, the interview process should help you assess the cost benefit of each interviewee in order to reach the hiring decision. At this stage, we recommend that if a candidate does not meet your cost benefit expectations, then they are not progressed any further.

    Be prepared to offer the desired salary
    Problems arise when clients, take to a candidate so much, even though they are aware that they may fall outside the approved salary range for the job. Inevitably this only leads to disappointment as both parties fail to negotiate on the salary and consequently bear the true costs of the delay.

    Pitching the offer
    Of course there is an element of negotiation at offer stage. As an employer, you have budgetary constraints to bear in mind whilst candidates on average seek a 20% improvement on their salary package depending upon level of expertise and seniority. We understand that you may want to make a conservative initial offer in the knowledge that there is some movement for negotiation – but our advice is to make this offer as appealing as possible. Receiving a poor offer only dulls the candidate’s enthusiasm and makes them either consider staying put or investigating alternative opportunities or employers. Where possible, providing us with the minimum and maximum salary range (subject to capabilities and skills set) helps to avoid any potential candidate expectation and client offer mismatching.

    Make the final offer
    If you have a policy not to negotiate at offer stage, then the above suggestion still applies, but make sure the candidate is made aware that there will be no further improvement. There is a fine balance in managing your recruitment budget and securing your ideal candidate.

    Back to Recruitment Advice

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