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Ask the Headhunter: What employers lose when they take too long to make job offers

You read about it every day: Companies complain they face a dire talent or skills shortage. That’s why they can’t fill important jobs. The people they need just don’t exist!

Job seekers know better, and my old friend Andy Lester (author of “Land The Tech Job You Love”) shared a story with me that is the more likely explanation for why employers can’t fill jobs. Employers shoot themselves in the foot every time they delay making a job offer.

Andy Lester: People get led around by the nose in the hiring decision: The company is too incompetent to close the deal.

I recently had a friend, “Bob,” find a job that sounded like a great fit. The hiring manager said he’d be working with HR to get the offer worked out. A week later, no offer.

Bob had wisely continued hunting and had some interest from a second company. When the second company called back for the second interview, Bob called the first company to light a fire. The first company was where he really wanted to work.

“Yes, yes, we’re working on it,” the first manager said. Second company gives Bob an offer, who of course says he needs a day to think about it. He calls the first company with an ultimatum: “I need an offer by Wednesday at 5 p.m. or I’m going with this other company.”

I don’t think you’ll be surprised to know that 5 p.m. on Wednesday came and went. Bob called the first company on Thursday to let them know he had taken another offer. The hiring manager apologized and said “We still really want to hire you!” [This manager clearly doesn’t know “The manager’s #1 job” or how to “Hand-walk the job offer.”]

The first company wasn’t stalling or playing dirty with Bob. It’s just that the organization was too caught up in whatever it was that was drawing their attention away and couldn’t work on the important task of getting talent on board. They were so caught up in putting out fires that they couldn’t be bothered to hire a qualified fireman.

Nick Corcodilos: I know many Ask The Headhunter readers have had this experience. After giving the interview process their all, and after hearing a manager say, “I want to hire you,” they wonder what happened when no offer gets made.

Well, Andy’s story is likely what happened. There’s simply no hurry to make a job offer. Good job applicants go elsewhere. Later, the hiring manager goes to the HR department to complain the job isn’t filled. HR reports to higher management that, obviously, there just aren’t any good candidates out there. “There’s a talent shortage!

There’s a shortage of managers that take hiring seriously enough to act fast to fill jobs.

Would someone like to estimate what this costs American businesses? Maybe someone at the U.S. Department of Labor?

Dear Readers: What’s your experience with how long it takes employers to make a job offer? How long does it take them to even make a hiring decision? What do you think causes the delays?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

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