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No Hurry to Hire? July 9, 2012

Posted by Tim Rodgers in job search, Management & leadership.
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Many of my friends and former colleagues are looking for jobs these days. One of the complaints I hear most often from these folks is about the long delay between applying for a job and learning the outcome. Certainly there are a lot of reasons why this might happen. I think in some cases the hiring company makes a quick decision based on the applicant’s qualifications, but doesn’t send a formal notification, perhaps because they don’t want to get into a defensive e-mail cycle over the reasons for the rejection. I guess they’re hoping that the silence will speak for itself and the applicant will eventually get the message.

Some people I know take a cynical view and wonder whether the hiring company was ever serious about filling the position, or if they were just posting a hypothetical job description as part of some kind of external benchmarking exercise to help assess the state of the job market. I’d be surprised if anyone actually does that. I don’t think it’s illegal, but it definitely seems unethical and a waste of time and HR resources.

However I think there are many cases where the hiring team is just slow. When I was a hiring manager I wanted to fill an open position as soon as possible. It was usually a tough, uphill battle to get the requisition approved in the first place; essentially making the case that without this new hire the business would be seriously handicapped. To go through that effort I had to convince myself that my work life would be immediately improved as soon as I could hire and begin on-boarding a new person to take over some important responsibility. There were also times when I worried that some hiring freeze would be imposed shortly after getting the requisition approved. Regardless, I wanted to work quickly to get a group of candidates and make a decision.

And, that’s where the process can also slow down. Some hiring teams dither, hoping that a better candidate will come along if they just wait a little longer. That’s a “bird in the hand, two in the bush” dilemma, especially since you really don’t know who else might apply for the job. If this hire really is an urgent need for the business, isn’t it better to take the best-fit candidate from the current pool?

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