The Eight-Week Window, And Why You Need To Move Quickly

We crunched some numbers, and we found out that on average, candidates are on the market for just eight weeks.

That’s eight weeks to move from:

  • I’m open to work
  • I’m applying for roles
  • I’m interviewing
  • I’m negotiating
  • I’m handing in my notice

The active market changes constantly, but there are reasons to believe that this eight-week window has been extended over the last 6 months. Here’s a few reasons why:

  1. Liz Bloody Truss.
    Yes, we like to blame her for a lot of things, but last September’s budget caused ructions in the economy that are still playing out right now. And the current government isn’t seemingly improving things much. So long as inflation is high and the economy struggling, there will be fewer companies hiring.
  2. Tech redundancies
    They’re still coming, too. LinkedIn just let a clutch of good people go. So the market is flooded, and that means that there is an excess of candidates for hiring managers to choose from.
  3. Superstar candidates
    Think Lionel Messi deciding – hmm, time for me to move on. The eight-week window may not lengthen, but the amount of time spent applying will shorten – the only factor would be the extended negotiation. Superstar candidates are out there, and they get snapped up very quickly.
  4. Vibrant niches
    As always, when someone’s doing less well, another area of the economy is doing very well. There are always vibrant niches where specialists can find new roles quickly, and that eight-week window can become as short as two weeks. The same applies for unique specialisms where there is a high demand despite market pressures.
  5. Both kinds of exec
    Junior executives are finding it hard at the moment as there is a distinct lack of entry-level roles for pure entry-level candidates. And at the other end of the scale, senior executives will know that the eight-week window can extend to several months, especially in specific sectors. The eight-week window is mostly true for the ‘chunky middle’ of senior execs, managers and heads-of.

If you’re reliant on job boards…

… then you’re playing with the active market. Depending on the competitiveness of your search, you’ll most likely find that the eight-week window is just two to four weeks – because once the candidate has started interviewing and is further down the line, they are no longer applying.

So your window shortens regardless. And here’s what you will find:

  • A lot of candidates who have longer windows (don’t have the skills / aren’t relevant / CV-spammers)
  • A lot of ‘not-bad-fit’ candidates (good but not ideal – e.g. location / skills / work situation / salary)
  • Potentially, a handful of appropriate candidates (but equally applying elsewhere and in multiple interview processes)

And as we’re talking about hiring marketing specialists here, what you’re likely finding is that by posting on job boards such as Indeed, the majority of your candidates are in the first two categories, and you will have to play a waiting game for the third category.

Or you could play in the passive market…

Disclaimer here – this is what we do. Occasionally, we use a job board (LinkedIn), but because we are often hired to find specific skillsets and characters, we prefer to go passive.

By passive market, we mean “not actively searching” – as in, they might be open to work, but they’re casually exploring and not applying for roles unless they’re a good fit. Or alternatively, they’re not open to work at all, but they’re so relevant to this role, it could be of interest to them.

To play in the passive market, it helps to be a marketer. Disclaimer number two – 20 years in digital marketing kind of helps us here.

You have to know how to search. You have to know how to pitch. You have to understand your brief inside-out (it helps to have done it yourself). And you have to know that it’s not a sales job – being pushy doesn’t help anyone.

If the shoe fits, you don’t need to squeeze someone’s toes.

Me, thinking on my feet (sorry for the pun)

There are usually three outcomes from a passive market search:

  1. You get a nice shortlist
    … and you don’t have to sift through hundreds of CVs to find them. What’s more, they’re usually enthused about the opportunity, so if there is competition, you very often have the edge.
  2. You either get candidates quickly, or slowly
    … depending on the specifics. Sometimes, the ideal candidates just appear and they’re ready. Perhaps market conditions have made them so. Sometimes, it takes a bit longer to tease them out, and you may have to wait a couple of weeks, for instance when diaries don’t align or people are on holiday.
  3. You activate passive candidates
    It doesn’t always happen, but a passive candidate could be so interested in your role that they think about exploring other roles. Just to see what’s out there. A bit like when you sample that nice Cabernet Sauvignon from the Loire Valley and you think – hey, maybe I should try a Chinon too? Niche metaphor, sorry.

That latter likelihood is what should also encourage you to move more quickly, even in the passive market. Candidates don’t hang around forever, especially when your process is lengthy.

Our advice, FWIW:

  1. Take your time on the brief
    Don’t go to market until you’ve nailed down the brief and you have sign-off from everyone. If this takes a month, let it take a month. It’s best to be absolutely sure.
  2. When you hit go, get everything ready
    Clear interview dates, don’t involve senior execs at the very last stage (this can result in disappointed candidates and disappointed hiring managers) – get them involved early on.
  3. Get expectations from your recruiter / talent team
    Agencies and talent teams will know what to expect, so ask how long you think it will take to source this role, and what hurdles to expect.
  4. Build your process
    Again, agencies and talent teams know what the process should be – so work with them if you can. But if you have neither, then make sure your process includes interview prep and briefing, reminders, quick feedback and a clear interview process so that everyone knows what to expect.
  5. Unless your market is huge, don’t use job ads
    Specific marketing roles aren’t great for job boards, and they’ll only leave you spending your days sifting through CVs from CV spammers and over-reaching candidates. That’s not to say there isn’t a role for job boards, but the more specific you are, the more you need a headhunter to source a shortlist for you.

And of course, if you need any help sourcing your candidates, you could contact us.

2000 1500 Example Recruitment - A New Breed of Digital Marketing Recruitment Agency