Just a few short years ago, job seekers could count on the time between resume submission and the arrival of a formal job offer to take a mere few weeks, if not days. If you started your search on the first of the month, you could expect to start your new job by the 30th, and with a little luck and effort, a few weeks of severance could realistically cover the spread between the old job and the new one.
But at this point, recruiters and HR managers appear to be extending the length of the average hiring process. According to the recruiting site Glassdoor, this process lasted about 13 days in 2010, but as of 2015, the timeline has reached an average of 23 days. Why is this happening? And as a job seeker, what can you do to make this drawn-out period a little more manageable?
Why the Hiring Process is Getting Longer
Hiring is expensive for employers, and the price tag skyrockets when managers make a selection mistake and their chosen candidate disappears within a year. In order to reduce cost and risk, employers are taking a simple approach: caution. Companies are requiring more in-depth interviews (sometimes by full panels) and they're going to extra lengths to introduce screening elements, like background checks and personality tests.
But unfortunately, this means longer waiting periods and greater uncertainty for candidates who are left idling by the phone. Two week's severance won't pay your bills if employers draw out the hiring process for six months or more. But a few simple guidelines can keep your own timeline under control.
Under no circumstances should you put your search on hold while you wait to hear back from a given employer. Submit your resume for one job and immediately start working on your application for the next, and then the next. Don't wait by the phone for even a minute. As employers gather a huge applicant pool to reduce their own risk, you should be doing the same; draw a longer list of offers and you'll increase your negotiating power and your chances of success.
Ignore requests to stop moving.
If your employers request an interview, or let you know that you're on their short list, that's great news. But by no means should you let up on your search. And if you're asked to wait by the phone, decline. Provide the materials your employers request and jump through any hoops they present (within reason), but if they ask you to put a hold on other offers, think twice.
Be patient, but put your own needs first.
Expect your search to take a while. And as you settle in for a long haul, stay in control of your valuable time and resources. For example, if your employers would like to call you in for ten rounds of interviews drawn out over three months, that's fine…as long as these interviews come at a reasonable cost to you. If you have to exhaust your PTO days with your current employer or pay for your own plane fare to attend these sessions, something is wrong. It's perfectly acceptable to ask the employers for reasonable concessions. Meanwhile, don't provide your labor—or your valuable ideas—for free. If your reviewers ask you to complete work for them (like a marketing plan or a product design) in order to demonstrate your value, ask when and how this work will be used before you comply.
Politely following up with your interviewers by phone or email can refocus their attention and may speed the process along. A gentle nudge after a period of silence (a week or more) shouldn't hurt your chances, and it can keep you briefed in on the length of time remaining until a decision is made.
—Stay in control of your career during a drawn-out hiring process and keep submitting resumes until you find the position that's right for you. Turn to MyPerfectResume for tools and resources that can keep your search in motion.