This is pretty conventional wisdom – and you certainly didn’t hear it here, first. No sales training session would be complete without a reminder of Time’s toxic effect on the pitch-to-close process. In every industry, in every economy, in every region – it’s up there with “Don’t count your chickens”, and “A stitch in time…”
Whether you’re raising a fund, buying or selling real estate, closing a venture capital deal or selling your business, the old truth applies. Hiring is no different. Nothing makes a recruitment project as likely to fail as a significant delay in the process. Why? Because stuff happens.
Work issues improve, relationships heal (or deteriorate), the excitement wanes. We’re dealing with human beings, who, given enough time, are bound to rethink their decisions.
Thinking twice (or even thrice) is good – and I’m certainly not suggesting that we should all rush blindly into big decisions. Do your analysis, consult your advisers, get your paperwork and your background checks in order – and then propose!
We know there are lots of good reasons for delays in process, and too fast can also be a bad idea – making your move before you’re sure you even like each other is likely to result in disaster.
Am I contradicting myself? Not really. What I’m saying is there’s a reasonable time within which to make an informed decision. In the world of executive search, that’s at most, four to five weeks from the first meeting with the candidate.
Any longer than that, and you’ve got to start weighing up your risks. Circumstances change. Fatigue sets in. People start whisper campaigns. “What’s up with them?” And your candidate’s going to start wondering just how serious you are. And whether it’s going to be less of a risk to fix their current situation than to dive into your unknown… when you finally get around to asking! After all – “Better the devil you know…”
Executive candidates can read a stalled process as reflecting negatively on the company in the following ways:
- The company is indecisive, does not know what they want/need
- This hire is not a priority – therefore not the kind of role I’m interested in
- The company does not have the financial wherewithal to make the hire
- The company’s slow movement in this process is a reflection of their overall corporate dynamic
Hiring an executive is a deal like any other – the company is selling the merits of their opportunity and the executive is selling their skills and talents to the company. It never fails to amaze me how often a company will interview a candidate, provide very enthusiastic feedback, invite them back for multiple meetings, indicate an offer is being pulled together and then… silence…! For weeks!
Too frequently the cost to the company can be, losing that top candidate.