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When is the right time to approach a candidate for a role? 6 signs that someone could be open to new opportunities

Posted on 14 September 2022 by Jacob Perrett

Website Banner   Desktop (5)

When is the right time to approach a candidate for a role? 6 signs that someone could be open to new opportunities

Posted on 14 September 2022 by Jacob Perrett

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There are many reasons a candidate may choose to leave their current job in search of a new one. Some will make it public knowledge that they are job hunting, others will be a bit more secretive about their desire to jump ship – but there are signals that might inform when a candidate could be open to a conversation, even when they’re not advertising their availability.

There are methods of uncovering prospective candidates and offering opportunities to those who may not be ‘on the market’, as such, but would be open to hearing about new positions. It takes a bit of knowledge on the state of the market and on candidate behaviours, but if there’s reason to believe that they’d be on board, then there’s nothing to lose by pursuing them.

There’s a pattern in their job history 

A good indicator that a candidate may be interested in a new role is by looking at their past employment habits. If they have a track record of changing jobs every couple of years and they’re coming towards that time frame, then you can expect a greater chance of getting a response when approached.

On average, US employees leave their job after 4.2 years and 33% of new hires quit within just 6 months. As a result, it shouldn’t take much convincing for them if there’s something better on the table.  

By looking at these trends, you can determine if a candidate is ready for that next step.

There’s big news surrounding their company 

Whether this is finance-related, performance problems, commercial issues, or a major trial or manufacturing hurdle; something within the business that leads it to be pushed into the public eye could be a reason for employees to look to move elsewhere.

In the life sciences industry, we benefit from the fact many firms are obliged to transparency when it comes to the success of their ventures. So, if a candidate is working at a start-up which has missed a major milestone or their product isn’t performing, those within the business may be looking to greener pastures to be involved with projects that are on a better trajectory.

It’s a harsh reality, but it’s not called the war for talent for nothing!

A merger or acquisition has been announced

People are naturally more susceptible to changes in role when major shifts happen in their company. Candidates might join a smaller company when a larger firm takes them over, if the appeal of joining that company in the first place was to do with culture that would be lost within a larger firm.

When M&A activity takes it can cause a lot of uncertainty for employees within the organisation, especially in cases where physical offices may be closing or relocating.

On top of this, there may be culture clashes with the new business. This can be incredibly off putting for those passionate about the company policies or who joined because of the ‘start-up’ appeal. Some candidates will have frustrations or concerns, so it is a good time to reach out if you’d be hiring from the affected talent pool. 

There’s a change in leadership or a restructure

Appointment of a new CEO, a major board reshuffle, or other senior-level restructures might trigger a candidate to want to look elsewhere. This could be because they’re wary of a new leadership style, or because they had existing relationships with people that were impacted. 

Moreover, the restructure my have impacted departments closely related to their role and so they may be concerned for their own job security.

There’s an upcoming seasonal recruitment trend

A good time to reach out is often during the summer. 

Whilst the first 6 months are typically considered the best time for hires, you shouldn’t rule out the rest of the year.

Surprisingly, the holidays can be the perfect time to get in touch with candidates as they’re likely to have more time on their hands and competition shouldn’t be as intense. 

Given that most employees quit their job in August (almost 3% of US workforce in 2021), it’s essential to do your research around July to get them interested before fully approaching.  In simple terms, be proactive but not intrusive. Get your foot in the door and then let them make the next move. 

You’ve come across them before 

Although it’s important to branch out, you shouldn’t overlook those already in your ATS – if you have one.

As executive search consultants, we make sure we keep a tidy database of everyone we’ve contacted about roles. It allows us to nurture candidates that aren’t quite ready to move yet, so we’re at the forefront of their minds when they are.

Some of the best candidates could be people you may have engaged with previously or had mutual connections with. Most candidates we end up placing are re-engaged after initial outreach months prior. It’s a long game, so don’t take a ‘no’ as ‘never’.

When you’re re-connecting with candidates, you will also have a better understanding of their intentions and hopefully be able to approach them with an offer that appeals to them more.

There’s a large pool of talent to explore within life sciences and many people will be willing to talk if there’s a good enough offer on the table – but understanding these points will help you have an even more competitive edge.

With job vacancies on the rise (an estimated 3.5 million STEM roles by 2025 in the US), it’s crucial to get the right people on board, however, you shouldn’t rush into this. A good way to approach a passive candidate is to assess their situation and really figure out if they would be interested before making a move.