Time isn't your friend - if you are delaying hiring decisions

Finding the right candidates for a job opening is just the first step. Companies that do not have processes in place to move quickly to secure the right candidates are missing out on top talent. We look at why and ideas on how to fix this.

The old adage “time is of the essence” is a concept that seems to have become lost on some companies when it comes to hiring staff. Failure to act quickly could result in candidates walking away, picking up other jobs or not being interested in interviewing if the client has a reputation for being lax in making hiring decisions.

Jenet Cennet Depke, Managing Director of JD’s Personnel, which has been operating for 33 years, says she is increasingly frustrated by companies that fail to respect candidates by making timely employment decisions. And they are doing so to their own detriment.

“Unfortunately, some clients have not yet recognised until it’s far too late that finding dream candidates is becoming increasingly challenging due to skills shortages,” Depke says.

“The creative industry particularly requires very specific training and experience, so sometimes it can take up to six months to find talent for certain positions.

“Sadly, some HR managers and management-level personnel responsible for hiring do not prioritise how critical their human resources are for their business. Etiquette, manners and consideration in business have waned enormously in the past few years, which is most disappointing.”

Depke (pictured right) says in her time in recruitment, she has seen a shift from clients responding “extremely promptly” to candidates and recruitment agencies to a point where “it can now take anything up to a few weeks for some clients to return calls”.

“In my book, clients should respond on the same day or no later than the following day,” Depke says. “Candidates who have excellent credentials and an impressive track record are applying for several jobs at the same time and the client runs the risk of not being able to hire the candidate if they decide to accept another job.

“In the case that a candidate is shortlisted for more than one position, a consultant needs to make the client aware and the client needs to be mindful that long delays in their decision making or response times could result in the loss of high-quality candidates. Communication is key.”

Depke says this kind of lax attitude also damages the client’s reputation with prospective staff and, in some instances, can mean the search for the right candidates needs to start from scratch as the delay in making a hiring decision has resulted in top candidates being snapped up by rivals.

“This becomes costly and frustrating for the recruiter, client and candidates alike.

“Clients delaying their hiring decision also impacts the recruiter’s business,” she says. “If the top candidate accepts another job, the shortlisting has to recommence again at the cost to the recruitment agency, and in some cases it can take such a long time to find new candidates in a tight market.

“In other instances, it can be such a long time that it ends up costing the recruiting agency a lot of money.”

Depke says part of the problem is often a lack of dedicated resources and a appreciation that time must be set aside for hiring decisions as a priority.

“There is no doubt that this is becoming more of an issue than it has been in the past, which to me reflects on the attributes of the HR manager or management lacking in professionalism and a duty of care,” she says.

“I know of one CEO who deferred interviewing a senior graphic designer - one of the hardest skill-sets to be found in Australia at the present time - for a couple of days. This was after a six-week search for the right candidate.

“The candidate accepted another offer in the meantime.”

Depke’s observations are backed up by a recent study of 1000 jobseekers conducted by Australian recruitment company Robert Half which showed more than two-thirds of jobseekers are accepting second-choice job offers because of the time taken for employers to make hiring decisions.

The study also showed that 30 per cent of jobseekers have waited six weeks or more to hear back from a potential employer after an interview, while 93 per cent of jobseekers taking part in the survey said it was “reasonable” to wait up to a month to hear about a position from the initial application to receiving their final offer.

The Robert Half study also showed that 30 per cent of candidates have waited longer than six weeks to get a response from employers and 19 per cent have waited more than two months.

“Just three per cent of employers made hiring decisions within 24 hours.

“Employers are in a fiercely competitive battle to find the right skills and talent to take their businesses forward, and they cannot afford to alienate potential workers with long drawn-out hiring processes,” David Jones, senior managing director for Robert Half Asia Pacific says.

“Top candidates know their skills are in demand, which makes it all the more worrying that so many are turning down their dream job because they’ve been left waiting for so long.

“While it can take time to narrow down a large number of candidates and to conduct thorough interviews, if companies fail to adapt their recruitment process to the expectations of today’s candidates, they will increase the risk of losing out on the best talent on the market.

“Businesses need to conduct an in-depth review of their entire interview process from initial outreach to final job offer, to ensure that they are striking the right balance for today’s candidates.”

Steve Paola (pictured left), Group General Manager of HR Consulting with Davidson, while acknowledging “everyone is time poor”, said responding to candidates in a timely manner is critical if businesses are to attract the best talent and this often needs to be driven by the HR team with hiring managers also playing a big part.

“As a HR professional, part of your remit is to attract key talent and build a workforce for now and the future,” Paola said.

“The onus is on the profession (internal recruitment teams and external recruiters) to articulate and demonstrate their value in order to move up the priority list and, importantly, build relationships so they can be viewed as a strategic and important partner to the business.

“It has always been the case that top talent can pick the right employer for them so ensuring that the recruitment process is one that sets the foundations and principles on which to make consistent and hopefully more accurate and faster decisions is very important.”

Paola said a strong and resilient recruitment process includes proactive and smart pipelining, identification of what success looks like through job profiling as well as using technology and psychometric assessments to help screen and select the right candidates.

He added that having strategic partnerships with the right recruitment companies can add a tremendous amount of value.

Paolo pointed to Davidson’s recent work with a multinational jewellery company to revise their ineffective recruitment process as an example of what a strong recruitment process can do.

“Among other things, we developed a two stage screening solution to predict candidates suitability in an efficient way by measuring candidates logical reasoning and identifying potential high performers,” he said.

“The results? Candidates reported an improved experience, the recruitment process was streamlined through an automated process by 25 per cent and the speed to hire was far greater.

“Organisations which are reactive can struggle to move beyond the here and now but it is hugely important to be proactive as the future of the workforce and jobs are changing which means none of us can afford to stand still.”


Melbourne-based art director and graphic designer Richard (name given) summed up the impact of not hearing back from employers simply: “The rejection I can handle, but the silence is soul-destroying!” he says.

“It is polite to at the very least acknowledge a job application which I am finding is something which just doesn’t happen any more. It takes less than a few seconds to respond to an email saying that only successful candidates will be contacted and good luck with the search.

“Why is that so hard to do now?”

Richard, 56, has recently returned from a year working in New York and says the response of recruiters there is significantly more helpful than he has experienced since being back in Australia.

“I was involved with some recruiters in New York for about a year and found that they tend to communicate a lot more than Australian recruiters, as a rule,” he says. “If they think you are applying for the wrong jobs, they will tell you. They stay in touch, send you messages; go out of their way to communicate with you and do the legwork of trying to help you find a job. They are hungry to get the commission from finding you a job.

“I have found in Australia that you simply don’t hear back from recruiters at all unless you make it to interview and then you still don’t hear back from them.”

Richard says he has recently made contact with an Australian recruiter who emulates the way US recruiters work by maintain-ing contact and has found her to be a breath of fresh air.

“It really does make a difference how companies respond to people looking for jobs,” he says. “There will be a day when those doing the hiring are doing the jobseeking and maybe only then will they understand how devastating the silence is from recruiters and employers alike.”

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