Playing Chicken with Your Open Positions

Illustration of Two Chickens in an Interview

Companies are losing highly qualified candidates and jobs are going unfilled at what is approaching an epidemic rate. The principle cause? Lack of a sense of urgency from hiring managers with open positions.

Many employers continue to expect their talent acquisition teams or recruiting firms to send them a never-ending stream of qualified candidates. Moreover, these same employers often expect these candidates to be desperately vying for a position– having applied through a job board or to a recruiting firm.

This expectation is no longer valid and creates tremendous dysfunction within the recruiting process.

Hiring managers who are waiting for candidates to sell themselves during the interview process may have to wait a long time. Candidates will disengage if they don’t feel like they are being courted. This becomes a game of chicken where everyone loses. Candidates lose out on valuable positions, businesses lose out on qualified employees, recruiters waste time on a situation with a preventable outcome – and everyone is frustrated.

To make matters worse for employers, the most highly qualified candidates in today’s market are likely already employed. Savvy recruiters are reaching out to gainfully employed individuals to convince them to apply for positions within new companies. When a candidate’s first encounter is with a hiring manager who is only marginally interested in filling a position – or worse – playing hard to get, they’ll be gone faster than a toupee on a windy day.

Additionally, once made aware an employee is contemplating a change, the candidate’s current employer will usually put on a full-court press to try to prevent the candidate from leaving. Any effort from a hiring manager has to be greater than all of the factors pulling a candidate towards another position or the inertia of remaining with his or her current position.

Even companies that make a strong effort to sell candidates on joining their business are running into trouble. More and more we’re seeing instances of candidates “ghosting” – or suddenly withdrawing from all communication with their hiring manager or recruiter and blowing off their job interviews. They simply have too many options to engage in follow up with each one and usually go radio silent once they’ve found a promising option.

So, today’s lesson is: follow up with your candidates! The tables have turned and the role of selling and follow up is now squarely in the hiring manager’s hands. Pitching a happy workplace, fulfilling work, opportunities for education and advancement, flexibility, good pay, and benefits help convince candidates to come aboard. Following up on the interview with timely calls, emails or texts demonstrates genuine interest and encourages the candidates to respond in kind.

It doesn’t have to be a Game of Chicken. Everybody can win!