Source | ERE Media : By Dr. John Sullivan
If you are not one of the few who understand the tremendous value of recruiting when the competition is low, this may be the most impactful article that you read all year.
Yes, despite all that you’ve been reading about the importance of data and technology in recruiting, timing may turn out to have a much greater immediate impact on your recruiting results. Few recruiting leaders realize it, but timing is everything in recruiting because your firm will get significantly better hires when you recruit during a time when there is low or no competition for candidates. Unless you have a data-driven recruiting function, it is unlikely that you even know how and when timing can give your firm a competitive advantage. I estimate that more than 95 percent of firms inexplicably fail to take into account the fact that the level of competition for talent is noticeably lower during certain times of the year. So, those firms that are actively recruiting during low competition times can recruit some amazing quality talent that they literally would have no chance of acquiring when the competition for talent was high.
A Timing Approach Allows a Firm to Recruit When the Competition Is Low
You would better understand the importance of timing in recruiting if you studied fishing, sales, or dating. The one single common factor among these seemingly unrelated fields is that your chances of “landing a prized catch” improve dramatically when the competition is low. For example, those anglers who want to have a significantly higher chance of catching a prize fish go out fishing the week before a major holiday like July 4. That’s because on the day of the actual holiday, the competition will be fierce, and immediately after the holiday, most of the prize fish will have already been caught.
Shifting to a recruiting example: If you were trying to attract the same caliber of talent as powerhouse firms like Google, Facebook, or Apple, on most days almost any firm would lose nearly every head-to-head recruiting competition with them. But what if you had data that showed that these powerhouse firms do virtually no serious recruiting during the month of December. With few positions open and few recruiters at these great firms who are highly active, a lesser-known firm could land more and higher-quality talent by focusing their recruiting during these this low-competition month. In addition to low competition months that repeat each year, there will be literally zero recruiting competition when your talent competitors run out of salary/headcount budget when they are under a hiring freeze or when firms close down for a 10-day Christmas break. Even with a weaker employer brand and a shortage of recruiters, almost any firm can be successful during time periods when there is zero recruiting competition.
There is no publicly available data showing that there are specific months when a higher percentage of top performers are in the job market. So even though fewer people might be looking in months like December, the percentage of top performers is likely to be the same as in low-competition months. Obviously, if your data indicated that there were such months, add this “more top talent are available” factor to your timing strategy. Taken together this means that “timing is everything” because it can be quickly and cheaply changed, while other important factors like employer branding can’t be quickly shifted.
Immediately Filling a Vacancy Doesn’t Always Produce the Best Quality of Hire
It is common practice for almost every major corporation to immediately open a requisition when an employee leaves your organization or when a new position opens. That makes sense because in some cases, leaving some positions vacant can cost you money and productivity. But if you attempt to fill the position during a time when there is high recruiting competition, the resulting “weaker hire” will also cost your firm a lot of money, not just in the first year but over the many years that the weaker-performing new hire stays with your organization. So, when you have an opening, recruiters and hiring managers should (when it makes business sense) consider a “delayed hiring option.” This is when a “low recruiting competition spike” isn’t far off and you purposely delay filling the position until the competition for talent is low or nonexistent. This delayed hiring approach is especially effective if you are not a powerhouse firm, because it may allow your firm to hire individuals who may perform at up to 25 percent higher than the hires you land during high competition months. And of course during the waiting period, you can use contingent labor, overtime, and your own fill-in employees to ensure that the work still gets done.