“[The] forecast shows B.C. faces a considerable demand for new Engineers, Geoscientists, Technologists and Technicians over the next 10 years….What is clear from the data is that without direct and sustained actions, the Asia Pacific Gateway will face a range of labour market challenges over the next 10 years.” (Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table, 2015).
In 2006, one of our founders, Fred West (P.Eng., PE, MCP), addressed the challenges of hiring the right candidate. At the time, the market was going well and the talent pool was even growing. Still, human resource departments experienced significant frustration in hiring and retaining talented workers and high performing leaders that would maximize the company’s upsurge. Fred’s response to this problem was addressed in the July/August 2006 issue of Canadian Consulting Engineer, with his article, “Momentum: A Critical Component in Recruiting Success.” The following includes part 1 of 2 of his editorial in which it analyzes why companies struggle with hiring qualified workers.
So why is hiring the right candidate at times so elusive? Hiring managers frequently fail to hire a candidate because they don’t appreciate the importance of momentum in the recruiting process. By the time the employer’s offer is extended, the candidate has changed his or her mind or lost interest — representing a cost in time and lost opportunity for the company. Therefore, it’s worth exploring how to improve the hiring success rate by maintaining appropriate momentum, particularly in what is currently acknowledged to be an employees’ market.
All too often a search consultant will source, prequalify and present a candidate to the hiring manager, who likes and wants to hire the candidate — and the candidate likes the employer and the career opportunity.
But despite this promising beginning, the two parties ultimately don’t come together. The experience of search consultants is that, in a good percentage of these scenarios, hiring managers have failed to understand the critical importance of momentum.
Much has been written about effective interviewing techniques and processes, and some hiring managers have even learned to apply competency-based behavioural interviewing techniques. Little has been written, and less is understood, about the emotional component of the recruiting process. Even engineers and scientists, believe it or not, have emotions and a sense of self-worth that is at times trampled, unwittingly or uncaringly, by hiring managers or HR staff.
Few hiring manuals or behavioural interview primers explain the “emotional wave” of the recruiting process. It’s an apt term because interest levels rise in both parties during the recruiting process, but perhaps more so in the candidate for a variety of reasons.
For the candidate there is the element of anticipation, of analyzing and weighing risks and opportunities, and confidential discussions and meetings, often with their direct competitors — and adrenalin levels rise. Once expectations have risen, they don’t stay elevated unless the candidate perceives there is meaningful progress.
High points for the candidate are contacts and interviews with the search consultant and the client’s hiring manager or managers, as well as many other moments of decision and consideration that occur on this emotional trajectory. Ideally, this “wave” will lead to a client offer to the prospective employee when the employer considers him or her a desirable asset.
However, if the hiring manager allows the emotional high note to fall or cool due to delays or detours in the recruiting process that the candidate cannot well explain to him or herself, the candidate will perceive this delay as a loss of interest by the client. It will then be difficult or impossible to bring the relationship back up to the warm, emotional high that is necessary to conclude the hire.
Many hiring officials fail to appreciate the built-up momentum, and emotional wave, that is created during recruitment. Hiring managers are sometimes too busy to appreciate that hiring the right people is more important than almost anything else they may be charged with. Better people means more ability to delegate, more time to pursue new business, and more profit for the company.
But delays in the recruitment process often ensue for a range of reasons: key managers go out of town, “important issues” come up, or the hiring manager’s manager — the ultimate decision maker — is not available. While these may be valid reasons for delay, they are unfortunately not in the company’s best interest.
As momentum wanes from the candidate’s perspective, so does his or her interest in the opportunity. Doubts creep in: Does the employer value me? Did I not measure up in some respects? Is it really as good a company and career opportunity as I thought? What can be more important to them than my candidacy? Engineers and scientists, after all, tend to be analyzers and imagination can be fertile; negative sentiments about the employer can easily form.
Once the candidate’s ardour starts to wane, rarely can the two parties again be brought together successfully, regardless of how well the candidate, skills, position, manager, company and personalities appear to fit. The employer may well have lost this candidate, now and in the future, and the candidate may at times convey this disappointment to others in the industry who might have been potential candidates or clients for the employer.
Introduction by Sally Maeng; original article by Fred West, P.Eng., PE, MCP
Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table. (2015, October 26). Labour Market Information (2015-2024) [PDF]. Vancouver: Asia Pacific Gateway Skills Table.