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Lessons Learned: The right candidate at the right time

One of the main goals, if not THE main goal of recruiting is to find the “right” candidate(s) for our client(s). In talent acquisition, we receive a job requisition and then conduct our in-take meeting with our client. At that point in time, we obtain all the necessary information to conduct a proper search. We make sure to understand what “success” looks like by obtaining/developing a proper performance profile. As recruiters, we then go out and conduct an exhaustive search. We employ our best sourcing strategies, we leverage our network and utilize social media to search for that “just right candidate.” For the best recruiters, many times they are successful in the search. They are able to find that match that the hiring manager is looking for, both in terms of knowledge, skills and abilities, but also in terms of overall “fit.” The candidate accepts the offer and starts with your company (or your client’s company) and life is good.

Time Too SoonSo far, this sounds like a classic recruiting success story but then, something strange happens. This candidate, Mr. or Ms. Right, quits after 6-9 months on the job. What happened? We had the right performance profile. All of our predictive analytics and testing was spot on. The candidates’ references validated what we had thought about the candidate in terms of their experience and capability. So what went wrong? We hired the right candidate!?
In my experience, hiring the right candidate is, of course, a major part of the recruiting formula. There is, however, another major piece of that equation that is often missing. You need to hire the right candidate at the right time. The part about the right time is the element that trips up a lot of good recruiters mostly due to the fact that finding and hiring the “right” candidate is what gets recognized and rewarded.

Here is the thing, your rock star candidate might seem right to you but you really need to be listening to make sure that it is the right TIME to hire them. For example, at a previous company of mine, we were looking for a Manager of Client Services to be the client lead at a local contact center with an employee base of about 400 people . The position was an individual contributor role and reported to an offsite Director. After intensive searching and interviewing we thought we had found the right person based on their background, skillset and how they interviewed. This person had worked in a large contact centre environment before and had managed multiple client contracts across multiple verticals. They understood the contact centre environment and had thrived in previous roles.

We hired this person and within 6 months they quit. We were shocked and couldn’t understand what went wrong. However, when looking back on things to determine exactly what did go wrong, we figured that we probably didn’t listen to the candidate We got caught up in romancing them and didn’t truly listen to their questions and feedback to make sure the timing was right. Turns out, the candidate/employee, was actually taking a step back in their career with this move (not forward as we had thought.) They were really looking for a Director level role where they could call the shots and lead staff. (In their previous role, before joining my former company, they had a staff of 6 that did a lot of the proverbial “leg work” in client services whereas in this role, with no staff, they would be doing all that themselves.) Turns out, in the process of courting the candidate AND in the candidate only hearing what they wanted to hear from us, that the fit we thought that was there really wasn’t.

Don’t get me wrong, this was still a great candidate but we hired them at the wrong time. We needed this person once our contact center had expanded and doubled as part of its growth trajectory. This candidate would have been ideal about 2 -3 years from the day we had actually hired them. We missed the part about hiring right at the right TIME. To this day, that has been a real lesson learned by me and one that I routinely advise others not to repeat. You need to truly understand the career timing of your candidate, as well as your organizational timing and career offering, when making the hiring decision. Step back a bit from romancing the candidate and make sure you are not just in love with their credentials and experience. You need to get the equation right. Take a step back and ask yourself, “Is this the right candidate at the right time…or just the right candidate? Often, if it is just the right candidate, you may end up looking for the right candidate AGAIN. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.com

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