The idea that timing is everything applies to everything from cooking to relationships -- and even recruiting. As aggressive as the hiring market is, you want to be available and ready when the talent is ready.
If you time things just right, you’ll have a leg up on the competition when it comes to closing the deal with a highly sought-after candidate. To nab the best possible person for a position, the first thing to be aware of is that there are three different phases of timing for a candidate.
The first phase is the passive or exploratory period. This is the best time to engage with a potential hire. Keep in mind that it might not be when the job description is ready or a formal requisition is open. This phase is all about proactively and intentionally building a relationship.
And from my experience as a recruiter, this is when a lot of matches happen. It might be six to 12 months before the person is ready to move, but a company that has already built a relationship in this period will have the advantage when the candidate begins actively searching.
Once a candidate reaches the active phase, things become much more competitive. Now it’s not a question if this person will move to a new position, but when. The job seeker made it (somewhat) publicly known that he or she is looking.
At this point (particularly in the world of software engineering), he or she may be on the market for about four weeks, so you need to move quickly and close the deal within four weeks. Also, keep the process to a maximum of four steps. Pass beyond this, and the candidate's interest wanes.
As consumers, people expect quick results in anything they seek days. If a person becomes engaged in and interested in something, he or she expects some sort of turnaround in 24 hours. The best practice is to keep in contact every couple of days between interviews, especially if you’re trying to establish your company as having a “get it done” type of environment.
It's vital for a company to custom-tailor the interview process to a candidate. The more you cater to the individual, the better chance you have of wooing a candidate. Show the person you really value him or her, no matter how big the company is.
It should also be a high-touch experience that involves leaders and executives who have a high stake in that hire or a personal connection. The interviewing experience should be so great. Every candidate should walk out wanting the job no matter what.
Once the person wants the job enough to sign a contract, stay in close touch until the person arrives on board physically. A lot can happen in a couple of weeks. It’s not frequent, but other offers could follow that are too tempting for the candidate to pass up. There’s wisdom in trying to manage the candidate during the time between offer acceptance and his or her showing up in the office.
Recognize that there’s a chance for a new job hangover -- maybe the baby’s not as cute as he or she thought. So stay close, meet frequently and ask for feedback to pre-empt any fallout. There’s so much time, energy and resources spent in making the hire, the last thing you want to do is neglect the person once he or she is getting settled in.