Mark Twain once wrote that the coldest Winter he ever spent was a Summer in San Francisco!
He was certainly on to something. Actually I’m writing this post wearing a hoodie with a bowl of hot soup next to me on my desk and with the heater on.
But given that I did experience 110 degrees in Las Vegas last week, I’m pretty convinced that it really is Summer everywhere else in the USA – and probably across most of the Northern Hemisphere for that matter. (Anyone reading this in the UK … I understand that you may well have your heating on today too!).
I’ve been in the recruitment game long enough to know that wherever you are in the world, Summer can make an impact for all the wrong reasons. I’ve heard people talk about the “Summer Syndrome”, “Summer Slowdown”, “Summer Strike”, “Summer Stoppage”, “Summer Slump” … I’m sure you get the gist.
Hiring managers blame recruiters for slowing down and not providing suitable candidates over the Summer; recruiters are quick to point their fingers at candidates for not being contactable; candidates blame recruiters for not providing timely feedback (actually maybe that’s not only confined to the Summer months!); and recruiters blame HR for not being available to turn offers around fast enough.
Lots of accusations just because it’s hot outside.
Want to know a secret? It’s possible to ‘work the system’ and take advantage of the Summer months. That’s right. I’m serious … Summer can be your best friend whether you’re a hiring manager or a recruiter.
Here are 6 ways to ensure that your recruitment process doesn’t slow down over Summer.
I appreciate that this tip might be a bit too late for this year given that we’re already halfway through July. However planning ahead can be the difference between making a great hire and missing out altogether.
If you know you need to fill a vacancy over the Summer, then you need to make sure you have all your ducks lined up well in advance.
Is the recruiter you plan to engage available? If there are a few weeks when they’re planning to be offline, then work around them to gain their commitment. If you’re not using a recruiter then you will need to start your search as well as any advertising ahead of time.
Reaching out to an independent recruiter who has kids on vacation half way through the Summer will probably just result in a full voicemail box or an automatic out of office response. However I know for a fact that many independent recruiters are more than happy to work on briefs during the school holidays but only with clients who have locked them in with plenty of notice.
Of course if you’re a hiring manager and you’re going on holidays, you can always engage your recruiter ahead of time so you can hit the ground running and be hopefully meeting candidates as soon as you’re back in the office.
2. Share your availability
What’s your availability over the Summer months? Yes … I’m talking to you, Ms Client as well as you, Mr Recruiter!
Nobody’s a mind reader. If you’re a hiring manager and there are some afternoons that you’re going to be out of the office with your kids, then let your recruiter know. If you’re a recruiter and you’re planning to take some time off meaning you’ll be uncontactable then let your client (and candidates for that matter) know.
And please, for all our sakes, remember to put your Out of Office auto-response on so we’re not all left guessing whether you’re there or not!
3. Work to realistic timelines
All hiring projects (regardless of the time of year) work best when a clear timeline is set … and adhered to! For example: how long after briefing will a shortlist be provided; how long after the shortlist is provided will the hiring manager provide feedback; how long after an interview will the recruiter be notified of next steps; etc.
It’s important for any hiring projects running over the Summer that these timelines are in fact realistic and therefore more likely to be achieved.
We’re in a wonderful industry where dealing with people is hard even at the best of times! But working around the vacation schedules of HR managers, hiring managers, recruiters, candidates, referees, or anyone else involved in the recruitment process is not always easy.
So if there are 2 senior managers involved in the interview process and they are both taking 2 weeks’ vacation at separate times, then factor this into the hiring plan.
If the best candidate needs to wait 10 days between a 1st and 2nd interview due to a planned vacation, don’t write them off. Factor this in.
If you’re looking to make an offer, but both the candidate’s referees are out of the office, then consider making a verbal offer with the written contract subject to the reference checks coming through all clear.
When we travel, we hate last minute flight delays. When it comes to recruiting (regardless of which side of the interview table we’re sitting), unexpected delays never go down well either.
4. Keeping everyone up to date
In addition to the above point about having realistic timeframes, it’s important to keep all parties constantly up to date.
If you’re a recruiter and you know your candidate is heading to Hawaii for a week, let your client know.
If you’re in HR and you have met a rockstar candidate, but you know there will be a 2-week delay before any next steps, then let the candidate (and if need be the external recruiter) know so nobody gets anxious and starts stalking you unnecessarily.
If you are heading out of town (lucky you!), let everyone know. You may decide to have one hour each day when you will be online and available to discuss a recruitment project. Again, just let all the necessary parties know.
5. Don’t assume only B-grade talent are available
Believe it or not, there are still lots of people working over the Summer! Not all the A-grade talent have taken off to Florida, Oregon or the Hamptons!
Many organisations make the (often wrong) decision to defer making any new hires until after the Summer break because they assume the best candidates won’t be available until September.
Not only are some top notch candidates working over the Summer, but many of them will actually have more time on their hands for interviews, coffees, meet and greets etc. Their bosses may be on vacation; they may be working more flexible hours over the Summer; perhaps their schedules are not as hectic as normal if their clients or stakeholders are away on holidays.
Take advantage of the Summer months!
6. Recruiter pro-tip
This is coming from personal experience. If you’re an agency or independent recruiter then Summer can actually be the best time for business development.
Both existing and prospective clients are hopefully feeling more relaxed and more likely to accept a meeting or a coffee. They might even be willing to lock in a time for a call when they might otherwise do everything they can to fob you off.
On a typical day the number of sales calls a hiring manager or HR executive gets between 9am and midday is anywhere between 10 and 20! Over the Summer this number drops drastically! I remember calling a client once to showcase a candidate of mine and my client actually told me she thought her phone hadn’t been working since nobody else had called her that morning.
Recruiters shouldn’t slow down over the Summer. If anything you should up the ante. You never know, you might just get that rockstar candidate over the line ahead of your competitor.
Nobody ever said Summer was meant to be a blast.
Oh wait … that’s right … they did!