As a recruiter, the words I dread to hear are “we’re putting the role on hold’. I work on a retained or exclusive basis so I don’t hear these much after the assignment has started, but I do hear them pre-sign off a lot more at this time of year.

The question is, why?

I know a lot of people will say ‘it’s the busy season’ or ‘budgets are up in the air’ or ‘the financial year is when recruitment becomes a priority’, however I’ve always thought companies could be a bit savvy during the November/December period.

Let me explain.

The toughest part of recruitment isn’t finding a candidate, nurturing them through the recruitment process and placing them into a role that suits all parties.  No, the difficult part in recruitment is managing a client’s expectations.

I’m more than aware that, although a client signing off on a role we’ve been in discussions over is not top of their To Do list (like it is mine), it’s still something that needs attention as once the proverbial recruitment button has been pressed (I’ve always imagined a big red button behind glass like in Danger Mouse) then it’s the most important thing in the world and the carefully constructed plans seem to go out of the window.

If you are looking to recruit someone that matches the culture and ethos of your company as well as possessing the skills for the role, then a retained or exclusive agency is the best, if not the only, way.  This will ensure you’re conducting a bespoke search, not simply settling for the closet match of who happens to be looking, fingers crossed and pot luck they work out.

This way takes a bit longer due to its nature and means a bit more planning which is where the Christmas period can be great and vital if you want the next financial year to be a success.

Let’s say a search takes a month, interviews to offer is another month and with notice periods for senior staff usually in the 3-month bracket, that’s 5 months from signing off on a role to the candidate starting work.

Include at least a 3-month settling in period before the candidate starts adding measurable value and you’re now in the 8-month cycle range. • Side note, this is why contingency permanent recruitment will always have a place in recruitment as clients end up being happy to take the volume of CVs that can be collated very quickly and hope there’s a match in there somewhere.

Back to Christmas.

Taking the cycle above into account, if you put off recruitment until the next financial year, you’re only giving yourself 4 months’ worth of input from your new colleague and you won’t see the benefit on the bottom line until the year after.

Clients that have worked this out are therefore interviewing, offering and starting the onboarding process in Oct, Nov and Dec or signing off roles in Dec to get a head start on their competitors.

Granted these very rough calculations are based on senior recruitment (as that’s our remit) and assuming Jan-Dec is everyone’s financial year, however I’m sure everyone could work out the true cycle and timings for themselves.

If you know the role is needed for your business to grow or to replace a key colleague, then why not think along the lines of Benjamin Franklin;

“Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”

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