A ball of stringExamining the timescales in the recruitment process
One of the most common questions that I am asked by candidates is how long the process will take to find a new job. With that in mind I thought I would write a piece looking at timescales and the different types of spanners that often like to jump into the works to slow things down.

At its speediest, from initial call to signing up with a new firm can take 2-3 weeks, though this is very rare. Usually start to finish takes a few months and in many instances I will work with people over a number of years before they make a move.

Assuming it has been agreed between the candidate and recruiter as to who to apply to, process involves at least two interviews (plus occasionally written and/or online testing) and if an offer is made candidates are usually given the chance to meet informally with their prospective team before they negotiate, accept or decline the offer.

Within these stages there are always multiple occurrences that can cause delays that Southern Rail would be proud of, and I will touch on a couple of these.

The two main factors affecting the speed of the process tends to be the state of the market and the motivation levels of someone to make a move.

When the market is roaring firms are often looking for multiple hires into a team and the majority of their competitors will be trying to do the same. This creates a supply and demand issue which means that anyone with a relevant skill set is likely to be pounced upon quickly. Should a suitable candidate also be looking to move things quickly then the process can be tied up swiftly. Often sluggish firms will suddenly free up schedules and do what they can to create a good impression in order to nip ahead of their rivals. Under these sorts of conditions firms will also quickly become more flexible about the candidate backgrounds that they will consider. Times like these make recruiters happy. Sadly that isn’t what is happening at the moment. Whilst the market is considerably better than the dark days of 2009-2011, it is slower than 2012-2015. At the moment the balance of power sits with the hiring firm and as a result they are more than happy to slow things down, take their time and rarely drop their standards. If people aren’t right then they will happily wait for another 6 months for the perfect person to emerge. Recruitment is often not the top priority, so partners will happily push interviews back or rearrange them if something more pressing comes in. Where there is an urgent need, firms will still move quickly though on average the process might take two or three times as long.

The second factor will be how motivated the job hunter is at any one time. Here will be the full spectrum of situations, from the mostly happy lawyer (there are some out there) who might consider a move at some point over the next few years if the dream job arose, through to the get me outta here yesterday case. It can always be a bit of a risky strategy to approach a job move in a hurry as the temptation to grab the first half decent option that comes along can be high, and before you know it you have hopped out of the frying pan into a red hot fire. Sod’s law means that the second you want to do something quickly, the market wants to take it’s time but sadly that is out of everyone’s hands.

My next article will focus on what factors to consider when thinking of a move, though on the timing front it is frustratingly tricky to predict (despite 15 years’ experience recruiting lawyers). When I track down a crystal ball I hope to be able to provide more accuracy.