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RICHARDSON: Taking too long on searches

RICHARDSON: Taking too long on searches

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RECRUITMENT is challenging in the best of times. But during a pandemic, it seems like searching for new employees has gotten ridiculous.

I’ve hired a lot people in my higher education career. Before we begin searches, we sit down and map out the recruitment plan. We include everything from who will be involved in the hiring process to where we will advertise for the position to the timetable we expect to follow. Evidently, planning all of this is not what many organizations do or if they do plan, they don’t stick to the plan.

Timetables are a particular concern. LinkedIn is full of posts about organizations being shocked that their preferred candidate, who gave every indication of reciprocating the feeling, went elsewhere. And why? Generally, it’s because the hiring company couldn’t get around to making an offer.

Oh, these organizations have their reasons. Maybe it’s because a senior person in the company needs to meet the candidate and because Mr. Big is so big, he cannot work an interview into his schedule for 2–3 weeks. Or the woman in Human Resources who does reference checks is out on maternity leave for one more month. You get my drift.

But from the candidate’s standpoint, a lack of planning or follow through on your part sends the message that she is not the first choice, even if she is. She’s waiting to hear back. She thought her interview went well and, in fact, received indications that she would be receiving an offer within days. Crickets.

Concurrently, she’s been interviewing with other organizations. One, in particular, has its hiring act together and makes her feel wanted. She is compelled to consider the firm because it is organized. She imagines working there and thinks, as a person who likes to get things done, that she would fit into that culture well because this organization obviously gets things done in a timely manner.

Candidates look for signals as to what it will be like working for an organization. If the hiring takes forever, for example, it would not be unreasonable to assume that it will take forever to get anything done. That might be a poor assumption, but it’s what the candidate sees.

Conversely, if the company’s hiring process is a well-oiled machine, the candidate might think the entire organization is built the same way. It could be just that this particular unit is this way, but that’s what she sees.

I coach many people in their job searches. Among other indicators, I suggest they consider how they are treated in the hiring process as a barometer of how it will be working in the organization. The salary and benefit package is important, for sure, but if the culture is such that an employee will always be frustrated, don’t take the job. And, if an offer is accepted and the new employee learns how horrible it is to work there, he should begin looking for a new opportunity.

Have you considered the signals you are sending to prospective employees with your hiring practices? Are you losing preferred candidates? If there’s a pattern, you must put everything under the magnifying class. Assuming your salary and benefits are benchmarked and in line with your industry and location, look at the time to hire. If I have two offers in hand, but one has taken forever to get to me and the other came in a timely fashion, I’m probably taking the latter.

And when that happens, please don’t take to LinkedIn to berate me. You did this. But you can also address it with your next hire. Will you?

Lynne Richardson is the dean of the College of Business at the University of Mary Washington.

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