Talent Acquisition

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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You're Not Still Hiring By Check Box Are You?


This is a serious question!

The national unemployment figure is a bit fuzzy. What the number actually is depends on the source one goes to in order to get the number.

Supply And Demand Reality

One thing that is certain is that the job market of 2015 does not look like the job market of 2009. At this moment, Cybersecurity, Risk, Compliance, Privacy and Information Technology professionals who are great at what they do are generally gainfully employed. There is no shortage of demand for Information Security / Cybersecurity skill sets in the private and government sectors of employment.

Yes, there are exceptions to this idea that there is full employment for technology professionals but even when a talented technology professional is not employed, they don’t stay unemployed very long if they really want a job, if they have done a good job of managing their career and if they have a strong resume to share with the marketplace.

The Market Has Changed

Despite the fact that the 2015 job market for technology professionals does not resemble the recession plagued job market of 2009, many employers are still treating job candidates as if there is an endless supply of job candidates.

Many companies are sitting on talented candidate’s resumes for months. Even after successful interviews and promises of a job offer, job candidates are frequently still sitting for weeks waiting for corporate processes to produce a job offer.

Check Box Hiring

Many employers are still hiring by check box. These employers create job descriptions that ask for 3 years of this, 5 years of that, 2 years of something else, a certain educational background, a certain certification and so on. If job candidates do not match up to the laundry list of “we want”, “we need”, “we expect” (repeated 3 times), they are eliminated by gate keepers and never get to the interview playing field.

Time for Change

When demand for job candidates is high and supply of qualified job candidates lags behind demand, it is time for employers to learn how to hire talent and capability and not just hire by check box.

Employers need to learn how to sell their jobs. Employers need to write job descriptions that not only ask for what they need; job descriptions need to clearly let gainfully employed job candidates know what’s in it for them to leave the comfort and known risk of their current role to take on the potential high risk of a new role in a new company with a new manager.

Sure, every position has a certain level of skill and competency that someone needs to walk in the door to satisfy. However, when filling technology positions, leaders will build much stronger teams if they concentrate on hiring people who bring enough of the skill they need today while giving the job candidate room to stretch and grow.

If a job candidate brings everything to the table that an employer wants and needs, why would they leave the comfort of their current role to take on the risk of a new role if there is nothing more than money in the new role for the job candidate to gain?

It is critical to hire people who can not only perform today’s job; a hiring strategy must consider job candidates who have the capability to learn and grow in line with a company’s plans to innovate and advance if employers want to attract and retain the industry’s top talent.

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Are You Still Posting Cyber Security Jobs On-Line?


That's not what this article is all about. This article is about a deeper topic than competition. This article is about increasing risk by showing your cards.

Let's say my search result on one of the job boards mentioned above produced this job title connected to a particular company. If you or I can run a search on a job board, anybody can run the same search from anywhere in the world. That includes people who have bad intentions.

Chief Information Security Officer

Are there any hackers out there paying attention? I bet there are. Imagine this dialogue in a group of connected cyber criminals.

Check this out!

This company just posted a need for a Chief Information Security Officer. It appears that they have nobody in place who is providing strategic leadership around protecting the company’s data.

Let’s see if they have any other open Information Security Jobs or Cyber Security Jobs on the company’s website.


There’s an opening for an Information Security Architect. For this position, they need someone who has a strong background in hardening UNIX and LINUX servers. I bet they haven’t been keeping up with security patches. This might be low hanging fruit. Add this company to our prospect list.

There's More

This same company is also asking for someone who understands how to protect their Software Development Life-cycle. I bet they don’t have a solid plan for protecting their web applications. They want someone to come in and teach their software engineers how to write secure code.

By the time they get that figured out, we could be in and out and nobody would even know we visited.

While they don’t have any strategic leadership and they appear to have multiple holes in their cyber armor, maybe we should put this company on our target list to see what kind of damage we could do while nobody has their eye on the ball.

There’s So Much Opportunity Out There

I bet if the three of us were to spend just one hour on job boards, we’d find hundreds of potential targets for our dirty work. This is so easy. Let’s all collect data and we’ll meet here after lunch to work on our strategy.

We’ll use our research to decide which industries are the least secure. Then we’ll drill deeper to figure out which companies in those industries appear to be lacking strategic cyber security leadership.

Then we can drill really deep and figure out which companies are lacking defense in areas where we have all-star skill on our team.

This is going to be fun and maybe profitable too!

How About That Risk Idea I Started With?

You could hire a Security Recruiter to do your recruiting for you. Alternatively, you could ask an experienced and deeply skilled Security Recruiter to work with you as a consultant during the time when you need to hire Cyber Security Talent.

In an arrangement like this, the outside recruiter could manage your job postings for you and could post jobs without your company's name attached. You could tap into this recruiter's highly specialized expertise to involve them in your candidate screening and interview process.

There are many ways to attract Cyber Security talent without letting the world know that you have holes in your armor.

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