It’s Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be
We all use idioms or old expressions from time to time - both in our personal and professional lives. They were meant to provide us with sage advice that we would apply to any number of settings. One I have heard and used for years in the recruiting professions is “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” I heard it almost 20 years ago when I started in the profession and I still am hearing it today. So how is the expression still relevant today and in what context or multiple contexts is it being applied?
First, let’s align around the current state of the recruitment market. I think most would agree we are functioning in what is best described as a candidate driven market. Although we are experiencing a shortage of qualified candidates in the marketplace, there is certainly no shortage of information, statistics, blogs and articles on the statistics and impact of a candidate driven market. Increased turnover, smaller candidate pools, more competition for the candidates we do have, counteroffers, competing offers, and turndowns are all impacting our ability to acquire talent. The result is added expense, longer timelines, and oftentimes frustrated customers (whether internal or clients).
Let’s look to analyze the “don’t put all your eggs in one basket” expression from three different perspectives. Coincidently, the three primary players in the hiring process: Recruiter, hiring manager, and candidate to see if there is something we can still take from the expression and apply.
Like many in today’s work world, recruiters are being asked to do more with less. For many, this means managing a greater volume of requisitions than ever before. As a result, they are constantly assessing and reassessing their priorities and trying to figure out how best to allocate their time. Which requisition(s) are going to get additional sourcing and screening attention today? As a result, recruiters oftentimes are redirecting their sourcing and screening efforts too soon to other requisitions and responsibilities once a viable candidate is identified. Moving a single candidate on to final interview stages with no “back-ups” is a very risky proposition, because if and when things go astray (and we all know they do from time to time) then we are faced with the unenviable task of starting over.
Hiring managers too find themselves stretched today. They are working long hours which are further extended when they have vacant positions. Because hiring great talent is so critical, many companies have fairly intensive interview and selection processes that can also add additional workload to an already busy hiring manager’s schedule. Whether conscientiously or not, as a result we often see hiring managers unwilling to invest additional time to continue interviewing additional, suitable candidates once they have identified a front-runner. If things do not end up working out with that candidate, the pool of additional suitable candidates tends to dry up as they have either moved on to other opportunities or have pulled themselves from consideration because they felt as though they were not courted and are a second choice. Again, the likely result is starting over.
The “eggs in one basket” analogy can also be applied to candidates, after all, they are the eggs in this scenario. From this perspective we need to strike a balance. Candidates should feel appreciated and courted while going through the recruitment process, but hopefully are not left with the perception they are the only person being evaluated. Eggs today, I mean candidates, have lots of options. Your recruiting process is a window into your organization and how they will be treated as an employee. As a
result your process needs to be one that makes them feel valued, has strong communication throughout it, and one that demonstrates a timely decision-making process. But as mentioned, a balance must be struck. Reality is the price is almost always impacted by supply and demand. If a candidate feels as they are the only supply, it tends to create more challenges when closing them on a reasonable offer. The goal should be for every candidate that interviews to have a positive experience and have an interest in moving forward. Otherwise, we can have our options limited by the candidates which also result in starting over a search.
So, what to do? I think we all agree it is always best to have multiple good options to select from when making important decisions and hiring decisions are certainly important ones. The reality is that sometimes the additional cost, whether in terms of time or money, oftentimes means we make decisions (conscientious or not) to move forward with limited options. Generating additional slates of candidates is many times more difficult and costly than the previous ones. The reality is there are many things we can do to keep some options alive that don’t cost us a ton of time or money.
Recruiters can make sure they screen and conduct phone interviews of additional candidates already in their pipeline prior to diverting efforts elsewhere. This is oftentimes only a minimal investment of additional time. The objective should always be to have three or more suitable candidates in process for every search. Hiring managers need to make sure they are making hiring a priority. Recruiters need to coach them to keep suitable candidates moving forward in the process until the position is filled while “courting” along the way. Candidates need to be treated with respect so they want to stay in the basket, while understanding they aren’t the only egg in it. Yes, all of these things represent an additional time investment, but this is much better than starting over. The key is finding the balance with the right additional investments for each given situation. The reality is there is no exact formula or science to follow. But if we are smart, organized and follow that sage, old advice and NOT put “all our eggs in one basket”, we are certainly going to be better off in the long run.