One of the most dreaded calls a recruiter can receive I “Where is your candidate, I thought they were starting today.” This is especially frustrating when you talked to your candidate the evening before their start date, to wish them good luck. It’s just as frustrating for the hiring authority who thought their job search was done and had arranged onboarding of this new hire.


Timing matters in business, in sports, in your personal and professional life— and no less so in the hiring process. In today's tight labor market, you are facing stiff competition for talent. It’s great when everything falls in place, but unexpected things often happen in life that impact timing. When a candidate no shows their start date it is gut wrenching for both the recruiter and hiring manager, delays the hire and is often very costly.


Imagine for a moment that you are conducting a symphony orchestra. Every musician in the orchestra follows your lead for timing, as songs slow down or speed up. If one musician’s timing is off, it impacts the entire orchestra and would flaw the performance. The score of music in recruiting is your requisition and everyone involved in the hiring process is your orchestra.


Life is filled with unpredictable circumstances that can cause timing delays. These are especially common when individuals are juggling their professional and personal lives. When I was a single mom, I remember often being torn between the demands of my profession and needs of my children. The night before three final interviews, my daughter was experiencing pain, so we ended up in ER. She was diagnosed with a hernia and had surgery the next morning. Obviously, the final interviews were postponed. This is a perfect example of life happening when you’re busy planning something else.


Throughout my extensive recruiting experience, I’ve realized the impact of perfect timing. It is critical that your target date to hire aligns with the timing of your candidates. The best candidates are also regularly being contacted by multiple recruiters. As a result, they are choosing from multiple opportunities and don’t necessarily stop interviewing, or even hand in their two-week notice, after they’ve accepted your offer. In fact, candidates will often request an extended notice to see if they receive other job offers or to shop your offer.


The following are five steps that will positively impact timing:
Step One - determine a specific date to hire and share it with everyone involved in the hiring process. In late November a hiring manager once gave us a target date to fill and have the hire hire start was prior to December 31st. They wanted the hire to be included in this years’ budget. When we requested interview times, no one was available to interview until mid-January. The new target date to fill became March 1 and changed the entire time frame of the recruiting process.


Step Two – confirm the availability of everyone involved in your hiring process, to ensure that you can successfully fill your open job, by your target date. Set up specific dates for interviews and block those times off on their calendars. By scheduling specific interview dates up front you are also obtaining the hiring managers commitment to interview and the recruiters commitment to surface talent by that date.


Step Three – send a copy of your job requisition to everyone involved in the hiring process to make sure they agree on the specs. Often the last person requires additional skills their last hire possessed which are not on your job requisition. As a result, this person would screen out candidates and you would not achieve your target date to fill the job.


Step Four – continue to confirm the target date to hire and present candidates who align with your time-frame to hire. Candidates who are working will hand in a two-week notice. If your candidate requests more time, make sure you are aware of other opportunities they are considering.


Step Five – ask both the hiring managers and candidates the same question in every subsequent conversation. “Has anything changed since the last time we talked?” This question will help you anticipate timing issues that could delay your ability to fill open requisitions. A common response from candidates has been the desire to work virtual or a hybrid model vs. full-time on site. When candidates interview for remote positions, this often becomes a new parameter, and they will not accept the traditional on-site opportunity. This information should be obtained as you continue to re-interview your candidate throughout the hiring process. This may cause you to remove this candidate from consideration.


While no one can control the endless issues that affect timing, there are ways to protect against unfortunate timing have a negative influence on your hiring process. Ask yourself these questions: Is this the right time to hire someone? Are you willing to devote the time to extend an attractive offer to ideal candidates who may be looking at multiple opportunities? Have you gone beyond a typical job description and visualized what your ideal candidate looks like: where they come from, why they would consider an opportunity with your firm, and how you and your team will support them when they are hired? Have you created a process that allows you to quickly and effectively, evaluate your candidates? If you can answer yes to those questions, you have eliminated most issues that sabotage your ability to achieve your target date to hire.


Other occurrences that impact timing could include: the announcement of a merger, relocation, sales of a company or major changes in leadership. The minute you become aware of these issues, immediately meet with your hiring managers to determine if the opportunity will be put on hold or if they want you to proceed. Immediately inform pending candidates of the change in timing to determine if they are wiling to wait or want to be taken out of consideration.


When you’re proactively aware of the impact of timing and anticipate changes, timing will work in your favor and you will attract, hire, engage and retain the BEST talent.



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