Hiring Managers: Be Prepared to “Draw” in Today’s Wild West Job Market

Mar 22, 2022

The average hiring manager might not think they have much in common with Doc Holliday - but they might be surprised by how much today’s job market resembles the Wild West. The same spirit of competition, sense of urgency, and quest for greatness prevail in both environments. Here are three lessons hiring managers and candidates alike can learn from the Wild West to help them succeed in the current job market.

Be Prepared

It’s a common misunderstanding that acting quickly means being spontaneous. In reality, the key to making quick decisions is being prepared in advance for any number of scenarios. In the Wild West, that might look like always having your weapon cleaned and loaded, being familiar with your surroundings, and knowing how to handle yourself on horseback. In the job market today, being prepared can mean thinking ahead and not rushing a candidate into a hiring process without creating and communicating a detailed plan of action.

Say a candidate needs to meet with three hiring managers, but the interview is scheduled on a day when only two can make it. That means the candidate must now come in a second time to meet with another person, which creates delays and saps momentum. Even worse is when a candidate comes in for an interview and leaves with no idea of when they’ll receive an update. These common mistakes can make companies look disorganized and give a negative first impression to candidates who likely have multiple options to consider. Be straightforward: set up interview dates where all relevant managers can attend, and give the candidate a clear timeline (for example: “We’ll interview you on Tuesday and have an answer for you by Friday”). Then keep your word!

Be Quick on the Draw

In past years, hiring managers could afford to take weeks or even months to interview prospective candidates, consider all their options, craft an offer, and submit it to their top candidate. Today, successful companies are completing that process within two to three days, from interview to written offer and acceptance.

Everyone in the market is chasing the same talent, and companies simply don’t have the luxury of taking their time when it comes to decisions. Instead, successful companies are “the fastest draw in the West.” They know that as soon as a candidate starts considering opportunities in the market, the clock is ticking, and if they want to secure the hire, they need to act quickly.

Be Ready to Adapt

Some companies’ hiring processes still haven’t evolved to meet the demands of today’s market. Being able and willing to adapt to your surroundings could save your life in the Wild West – and it can help your company today. The companies that are thriving are those who understand the need for flexibility and continuous learning; those who are stuck in a “but that’s how we’ve always done it” mentality are more likely to struggle in today’s constantly evolving world of work.

For example, say a candidate has an interview scheduled with a company. The candidate meets with all four hiring managers in one day, the managers make a decision within hours, and they submit a written offer that evening. Was this business as usual for that company even a year ago? No - but they recognized the importance of changing their hiring process to secure the hire as soon as they identified an exceptional candidate. They adapted, and they succeeded.

In today’s market, candidates are in control - and they know how badly companies need them. By preparing in advance, acting quickly when a great candidate becomes available, and adapting to new market conditions, hiring managers can tap into the wisdom of the Wild West and secure a great hire to lead their company to new frontiers.

*Thank you to consultants Jerry Wilkins (EVP), Meredith Love (EVP), and Jeremy Carver (VP) for contributing their industry expertise to this important topic.

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