April 27, 2023

No’s don’t kill you. Maybe’s do.


Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

Bad processes that just won’t die.

Hiring leader: “No, don’t rule them out. Keep them interested just in case.”

—- 3 months later —–

Recruiter: “They chose another candidate and won’t be moving forward.”

Candidate (in their mind): “Yeah, no sh*t.”

The transactional approach to hiring (not just recruiting, but hiring) won’t die. In the year of our lord 2023, we still see the “keep ‘em warm” approach to talent pipelining. (Not sure ‘talent pipelining’ is even an accurate description but let’s roll with it for now.)

It goes like this: A hiring leader talks to a bunch of candidates. Has a favorite. Moves forward with an offer. Or doesn’t and wants to talk to more.

Time passes. A month. 3 months. 6 months. Maybe a decision was made with an extended start. Maybe there’s an obsession with the ‘perfect fit.’

Meanwhile there’s a whole slew of people in the ‘maybe’ pile.

Not “maybe we’ll move forward” but “maybe a different position will open up.” 

Or “maybe our 1st and 2nd and 3rd choices will decline.”

Or “maybe I’ll feel different later.” (Spoiler: they won’t.)

The entire strategy hinges around 2 things:

1. The messenger (i.e. recruiter) having an endless amount of reasons for a delay that aren’t clearly bullsh*t.


2. The candidates being absolute morons.

The obvious flaw in the plan: recruiters are terrible liars and candidates aren’t stupid.

The candidate is never going to accept an offer at this point anyway.

“But James, what do you suggest instead?”

So glad you asked! Level with them and tell the truth.

If they’re not the top choice, tell them. If you have genuine interest in them for another position, tell them that too.

Explain what you like about their background. Why you’re favoring someone else. How likely it is you’ll have another role.

They’ll respect you for the transparency and *gasp* return your calls if/when you do have things open up in the future.

No’s don’t kill your credibility. Never ending maybe’s do.

Partner at Hirewell. #3 Ranked Sarcastic Commenter on LinkedIn.

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