April 24, 2014
Recruiting activities at some companies slow down during the summer. Simply Hired data from 2013 shows that the number of jobs posted during the late spring and summer months dipped under six million starting in April. The number of jobs started increasing in July (and more significantly in August)—conceivably as employers prepared for fall hiring.
For some companies, stacking requisitions during the fall isn’t a possibility, either because they need to continue securing candidates for their pipeline or because they don’t have the resources to handle such a concentrated candidate volume at a single point in time.
What many companies don’t realize is that there is strategic value to recruiting during the summer. For example, employees often have more relaxed work schedules during this period. They also might be open to discussing new opportunities. Vacation offers workers time for reflection. Also, data shows that interest in job fairs (and therefore in a new job) peaks in October; reaching candidates in the summer enables you to communicate with them before they are overcome with career “noise.” Though the summer period presents additional recruiting challenges, it can be a valuable (and less-competitive) time to catch great candidates.
Tips for maximizing summer recruiting activities:
Establish a ‘chain of command’ with hiring managers
When hiring managers go on vacation, I always ask who can act as their backup so that the interview process moves along. Timing is important, and you don’t want to lose a candidate just because an interviewer/hiring manager is out of the office. It’s a good practice to keep a list of solid back-up interviewers who can step in; doing so prevents a recruiter from scrambling to find replacements who may not serve as effective interviewers. You don’t want to subject candidates to pointless interviews that don’t yield the necessary insights.
Put a hiring manager in charge during a recruiter’s absence
If I plan to be out of office, I ask the hiring manager to keep candidates “warm” in my place. Keeping a candidate warm means being responsive to the candidate’s questions or, in the case of top candidates, keeping them engaged so that they don’t think they’ve slipped into the recruiting “black hole”. In the case of less experienced hiring managers, I give them pointers such as online resources for candidates to reference, responses to the most common candidate questions or a list of other members of the team who can answer questions in my absence.
Empathy is important
Recognize that candidates take vacation during summer. A top candidate might have a planned trip that could interfere with the interview process. While your goal is to get the right candidate in front of stakeholders as quickly as possible, you should also keep in mind that if the candidate is good enough, it’s worth the wait. Check with candidates about plans in a respectful manner so that you can work around periods when they’re not available. And work with hiring managers and candidates in light of these revised timelines.
Use video conferencing to bridge differences in space and time
A wealth of video conferencing technology is now available, including Skype and Google Hangouts. If a candidate or hiring manager is out of office but there is a desire to maintain recruiting momentum, they can still “meet” via video conference. Set expectations with both parties so that the interview is useful and as close to an in-person meeting as possible. For example, the participant should expect that the interviewer will be in a quiet space such as a hotel room or in a reserved conference room if the hotel has a business center. Performing a video interview in an unprofessional setting will not set a respectful tone or offer a fair interview experience.
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