The American Heritage Dictionary defines momentum as "the tendency of a moving object to continue moving along a particular path in a line." In other words, momentum is the constant incremental progression of a thing toward a specific end. What an important concept to foster in our business practices and strategies (as any MBA will tell you)! Unfortunately, we all too often forfeit momentum for analysis. As one professional golfer stated, "This game is all about momentum, and sometimes thinking too much can destroy it."
If there is any sphere in which that statement especially resonates, it is in recruiting. Most commonly, good solid talent is not lost because the opportunity or compensation was not competitive or the benefits, location, or perks were not attractive. Good talent is lost primarily because many firms simply do not endeavor to consistently, progressively move the candidate along a particular path of selection. There's no momentum. Ultimately, the candidate falls away and loses his or her appetite because "the plate has gotten cold," so to speak. How tragic. But this kind of attrition can quickly be avoided if firms recognize the three following major problem areas in their selection process and take steps to rectify them:
No one person is driving the bus – No one person is accountable to a timely and effective hire, and as a result, the recruitment effort gets assigned a marginal priority with no one really contributing diligently. Or conversely, everybody wants a say in the way candidates are ushered through selection. In either case, you end up with a stalled, stagnate, cold search that begins hot but soon fades into a cold distraction at best. My recommendation: Assign one person as the project lead over the search and create time-to-fill expectations that compel the project leader to diligently encourage consistent momentum along a specific "process map."
No one has a map – No one has designed a specific protocol by which candidates are introduced into, and ushered through, a selection process. For example, a candidate may conduct a very good initial telephone interview with a principal, but the principal is forced to close the discussion with the candidate with no earthly idea as to the next steps because he or she has no concept of how that candidate will be progressed through the selection process. Inevitably, a week goes by, then two weeks, then three, and out of nowhere the firm is reminded again that it desperately needs this engineer they spoke to almost a month ago, but unfortunately, he or she has left the table for another table because the plate has gotten cold. Where there is no map, there is no momentum because there is only confusion.
My recommendation: Decide upon a process map and be sure that map is communicated to every stakeholder in the selection process.
A generic protocol might look this: 1) phone interview; 2) onsite interview; 3) consensus/decision; 4) verbal offer; 5) formal written offer and start date. Further, at every point in the process, commit to timelines. As an example, every short-list candidate will be telephone interviewed by a stakeholder within 72 hours after being introduced into the selection process. Also, an onsite interview will be coordinated within three weeks of the initial telephone interview. Further, a decision for or against a candidate will be determined within one week of the onsite interview, etc.
Don't over-analyze the route – There's simply too much scrutiny and chit-chat rather than aggressive recruitment. Prudence and scrutiny should be applied to selection, but if you feel pretty confidently about a candidate and haven't put an offer in front of him or her within two weeks after their interview, your chances of winning that candidate significantly decrease. My recommendation: Determine to identify and select a candidate within 90 to 120 days, and be sure to communicate timelines to candidates.
Incorporate these three tactics into your selection process and you're likely to begin seeing significant improvements in talent acquisition efforts.
Jeremy Clarke is director, Executive Search Consulting for ZweigWhite. He can be contacted at 479-582-5700 or at email@example.com.