They say it's the most wonderful time of the year. Well if like me, you've had the misfortune of trying to recruit a vital role for your team in the run-up to Christmas, then you'll know that the next few weeks can be anything but a time for cheer.
Resignations are handed in unexpectedly, candidates ghost you, and everything needs to be done yesterday, all in the midst of client events, summer Fridays and, of course, the work Christmas party.
Whether you're a recruiter, a hiring manager or an HR professional, here are a few helpful tips to help you get through the silly season.
1. Manage Expectations
“I need someone to start in the first week of Jan” – your favourite hiring manager
It’s more important than ever to set clear expectations with hiring managers about the time constraints of evaluating the market for talent, getting people in for interviews, and managing those pesky notice periods. According to Indeed, searches for roles on job boards fall by around 25% from November. However, hiring managers often expect you to deliver a holiday miracle, by providing a shortlist of candidates ready to start, the first week back from the holidays.
Start by asking how urgent it really is to have someone start in early Jan. If it is critical for the business, then work with your hiring manager to identify alternative solutions such as hiring contractors or making creative use of internal resources to manage workloads in the short-term.
This is also a really important time to manage expectations with candidates from the beginning of the process. Have you ever had someone go through three rounds of interviews, just to decide they are staying put, after receiving a counter-offer? Make sure their career aspirations and remuneration align with your role from the first conversation and check-in after every interview for feedback and to re-confirm their interest.
2. Remember - candidates are also evaluating you
No matter what your role in the recruitment process is, never forget that hiring is a two-way street and the best candidates are evaluating you as much as you are them.
Candidates have access to a multitude of platforms and opportunities to demonstrate their talent, presenting recruiters with the challenge of an incredibly competitive hiring landscape while searching for that coveted unicorn.
It is important to stand out from your competitors at every turn. Take the time to really get to know your candidates, understand what they’re looking for and if you feel that they’re a great fit, then show them how this role is everything they’ve been looking for. Treat your candidate like you would a customer, delight them at every opportunity you get to ensure that their experience is a positive one - even if they don’t end up in the role. Give them timely feedback, follow up when you say you will and be transparent throughout the process.
3. Be Creative
When time isn’t on your side, you need to be creative about how you get things done. If you know a candidate usually takes 2-3 days to respond to an email, call or try texting them instead. Some applicant tracking systems allow you to send messages directly via text and send an automated follow up if you don’t receive a timely reply.
References are an essential part of any good recruitment process, but there’s no need to wait until your candidate has accepted an offer. Most will be happy to provide you with a couple of references prior to their final interview and doing this can save valuable time, with stakeholders in and out of the office in December. If references consistently cause delays in your process then you should consider automating them.
4. Think about the New Year
“New year, new me” - probably you?
January is the busiest time of the year for active job searching and if you’ve already spoken to a candidate in the past few months, they’re much more likely to think of you when they are applying for roles in the new year. Which roles are you going to be hiring over the coming months? What skillsets does your business always need? Start reaching out to or re-connecting with these candidates now and you’ll be the first call they make once the New Year’s Eve hangover wears off.
Building up a pipeline of passive talent in November and December will also allow you to focus on other priorities during the busy new year recruitment period when you’ll have too many other tasks to juggle, to have time to trawl through Linkedin.
5. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
How many times have you thought you had the perfect candidate lined up for a role, only for them to pull out of the process at the last minute? It happens to everyone, regardless of how effective your recruitment process is, and it can be particularly disruptive to your business with the holiday period on the horizon.
Try to bring multiple candidates forward to final interviews and always do references for your top two, so that if one of them pulls out late in the process, you won’t wake up on Christmas day wondering how on earth you’re going to fill that role when you’re back at the office.