When Acquiring Talent, Time Kills All Deals


What was true way back then is still true today

At the beginning of my recruiting career back in the early 1990s, I worked for a very intelligent boss. It was sometime in my first year or so in my new career with Brad that he called me into his office for a chat.

The topic of that day’s chat was Brad’s attempt to explain to me how stretching a placement process out over an extended period of time is generally a mistake. Brad explained to me how “Time Kills all Deals” when it comes to acquiring talent.

Here I am 25 years later and Brad’s words still run around in my head. The difference now is that I’ve experienced what happens when time kills talent acquisition deals. Back in 1990, it was Brad’s experience that I had to live on since I did not yet have much placement experience of my own.

Why does time kill talent acquisition deals?

When recruiting is executed properly, true recruiting is selling. When a job candidate has been properly sold an opportunity that aligns with their idea of career advancement, from a psychological point of view, the most analytical and introverted human being on the planet still gets excited inside when they think their personal professional situation is about to improve.

How long does excitement over a new job prospect last?

There likely is not a scientific study to capture the exact amount of time a person can stay excited about a new career opportunity but there is no doubt that excitement fizzles over time and the amount of time is shorter than you might think.

Job candidates are like bananas

Hopefully you like bananas because the lifespan of a banana is the best analogy I’ve ever come up with to explain the lifespan of a person’s psychological excitement when approached with an exciting career opportunity.

It is common to buy a bundle of bananas at the grocery store when they are still green. Once you take this bundle of bananas home, it only takes 2-3 days for the bundle to begin to turn yellow depending on how green they were when purchased.

Let 2-3 additional days pass and your bundle of yellow bananas will not just be yellow, they’ll start to develop brown spots.

Whatever your banana ripeness preference is, the reality of the lifespan of a banana on the shelf is that by the 6 to 8 day on the shelf, the banana has passed most people’s taste preference.

How long have you stayed excited about career opportunities?

If you think about the last time you found yourself excited about a potential career move, were you able to maintain excitement after a week or more of silence from the side of your prospective employer?

Placement processes do not have to conclude in one week but placement processes that are not deliberately built with communication at regular intervals will lose momentum quickly.

Talent acquisition strategy…Does your company have one?

Psychologically, we as human beings frequently have short attention spans. If your company is seeking top talent, talent that is generally employed down the road or across the country by your competitors, you need a well-thought-out, strategic talent acquisition process in place.

There are many elements to a strategic talent acquisition process. Today, my focus is solely on communication.

The result of not having a strategic talent acquisition process in place is that you will lose top talent whether that talent was looking for a new job when you first made contact or whether the talent was directly recruited for you and they were not previously looking for a career move.

Once psychologically pushed into action, talented people do not sit around waiting for situations that might or might not materialize. Once a talented person’s mind has slipped into the mode of considering the next step in their career, it does not take much effort on the part of the talented person to find other opportunities to explore outside of the opportunity you put in front of them.

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