“I feel the need—the need for speed!” This quote was delivered by Peter "Maverick" Mitchell, played by Tom Cruise in Top Gun (directed by Tony Scott, 1986).
If you are a talent acquisition professional in today’s red-hot employment market, your internal clients are hyper-focused on one thing and one thing only: How fast can you fill that job requisition? This relates not just to entry-level positions but to senior-level executives as well. It is also relevant to us in the executive search field. It seems as if speed has perhaps superseded virtually all other metrics. Is this good or bad?
Granted, there is always an emphasis on speed to hire, days to complete, etc. It is in everyone’s best interest to fill positions quickly. In the executive search industry, we receive extra brownie points for filling searches uber-fast. This holds true for internal recruiting functions as well. But, how does any talent acquisition professional feel about this need for speed? Is quality sacrificed? Are shortcuts taken? As one of our clients reminds me repeatedly, it is a big crapshoot anyway, so why not just focus 110 percent on speed?
The cost of a bad hire is fuzzy. We intellectually know that it can be 1.5 times salary. Does this matter? Is it a distant memory, a buried or soft cost? The short-term attention spans of hiring managers are notorious. Flat out, people may not care. Therefore, let’s take the high road and manage the need for speed with the best tools we can employ.
- Don’t overthink things. If the ideal candidate walks in the door immediately, do not ignore the obvious; move quickly and decisively.
- Don’t skimp on due diligence. If speed is the objective, go with it. But, check stories. Check references. Correlate resumes with LinkedIn profiles. Perform background checks. Be skeptical—trust but verify.
- Don’t ignore the best available athlete. Too many times a hiring entity only considers inside-the-box talents when outside-the-box prospects may be a better solution.
- Don’t be charmed by the professional interviewee. Yes, some people are outstanding interviewees. They seem remarkably poised, glib, attractive and, yes, perfect. Make sure someone on your team is the substance checker.
- Invest in the process, and make it a priority. Make yourself and the hiring manager available. Time kills all deals. Today’s candidate will be hired by your competitor this afternoon.
- Understand the dynamics of the market. Ask each candidate repeatedly what other deals are on his or her radar. Ask for transparency, and provide transparency in return. Do not be the prospective employer who is caught off guard when your candidate is hired someplace else.
- Know your candidate. What is the underlying tipping point? Maybe it’s student loan debt or a flexible work schedule.
- Be realistic. Pure and simple, some jobs are just hard to fill. Geographical considerations, supply versus demand challenges and poor Glassdoor reviews are difficult to mitigate. Be honest with your recruiter, whether internal or external.
Yes, we all are trying our “darndest” to fill those jobs at warp speed. Just be careful out there, and remember another quote: “Speed kills.” My advice is to beat that speed thing to the pass by slowing down, thinking strategically and employing basic protocols.