Hiring in the Hazy Days of Summer
By Mark Gamache
Summer is a historically slow time for many offices. Clients and customers go away for long stretches of time and their own offices are often in a slowdown too. Internally, key decision-makers are often away at different times throughout the season, which makes it onerous to collect approvals on anything until they return.
While the gears of business may slow, they don’t stop entirely. In some cases, there are things that simply can’t be delayed. In other cases, there are opportunities to act when others aren’t.
Traditionally, summer, along with the winter holiday, is the slowest hiring period throughout the year. Most firms ramp up their hiring in the lead up to summer, slowdown in July and August and then ramp back up in late-August and September. That makes sense when you consider that people’s focus is elsewhere during the summer slowdown, but it may also be a missed opportunity. If most firms aren’t hiring, there may be an opportunity to get the jump on them and scoop up top talent while they’re sitting on the sidelines.
How to keep things moving
Of course, trying to hire in the summer months presents two challenges. First, because the summer lull is well-known, many candidates may not be actively looking for a new position. Second, with so many people out of the office, it can be challenging to coordinate interviews and approvals, and execute the necessary human resources functions required to bring on new staff.
While candidates may not be actively looking for a new position, people who are smart about managing their careers generally keep on top of the opportunities in their field. Whether that means regularly keeping in touch with key contacts, attending networking events, or simply signing up for job posting notifications, there are a lot of ways a candidate can come across your posting. Although you always want to make sure that once you capture a candidate’s attention, you keep it by making the job attractive to them.
The second challenge is a little more difficult to manage, but with the right preparation you can keep the process moving without making it a burden for you or your company.
KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)
The summer slowdown actually presents a great opportunity to review the hiring processes within your company. When our days are packed with all sorts of responsibilities, we tend to fall back on procedure without taking the time to see if what we’re doing is actually the best way to get things done. If there is a lull in the volume of work, use it to dig into the process and identify barriers to success. You can then improve the process to make it easier not only in the summer, but throughout the year.
Preparation is the key to success
Once the processes are in place, identify the key decision-makers and events that could hold up the hiring process and figure out what you can do to minimize those hold-ups. For example, if you know you’re looking to hire in the Finance department and know that the CFO has to sign off on the final salary offer, you should find out when she is on vacation and plan to have the candidate search wrap up either right before or right after they’re away. If you prepare far enough in advance, it’s possible to map out your entire summer!
Give yourself time
Unless the position you’re looking to fill is critical to your operation, use the summer doldrums to take some time to work through the hiring process. A longer job posting period will help ensure that your position is seen by more qualified candidates and a longer evaluation period will give you more time to determine which of the candidates have the ideal mix of skills. In an environment in which we’re too often asked to make quick decisions, the opportunity to ruminate should be savoured.
If you can’t avoid bottlenecks with smart planning, it’s best to give potential candidates a good sense of what to expect. Once you start engaging with candidates and begin their advancement through your process, it’s good practice to let them know that it may take a while for approvals. There’s nothing worse than waiting to hear back from a potential employer indefinitely – not to mention, this can have a negative impact on your employer brand.
Our businesses develop processes to keep work moving at a pretty steady clip. Our profitability depends on moving things through a pipeline in an efficient manner and all of our processes are geared toward maximizing efficiency.
In the summer, multiple components of our processes—e.g., reviews, approvals—hit roadblocks when the people responsible for them are away. The result is frustratingly inefficient, but sometimes there’s simply no getting around it. In those instances, it’s probably best to let go, focus on your own rest and relaxation and recharge for the busy season.
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