I have received a number of questions from (somewhat frustrated) job seekers regarding how long they should wait during each stage of the recruitment process. The main source of frustration comes from the long periods of time that can pass without any feedback. So to understand why this might be the case, let’s take a look at the recruitment life cycle.
Recruitment Life Cycle
There are 5 key components in the recruitment life cycle (from the organization’s point of view):
- Need Identification – here the organization identifies a need, obtains approvals, and prepares their marketing material (i.e. job description). This is the behind the scenes stage of the recruitment life cycle.
- Sourcing – the point at which the organization posts the role online and receives applicants. In many cases, recruiters will actively search for candidates in their network as well.
- Screening – during this phase, recruiters will review resumes, conduct telephone screens, and schedule interviews. In addition, interviews will be conducted by the hiring team.
- Selection – as the name suggests, this is the point at which a successful job seeker is selected. An offer letter is extended and background checks are conducted during this stage.
- Onboarding – once the successful job seeker becomes a new hire, they will enter this final stage of the recruitment life cycle.
For the job seeker, the recruitment journey starts at the Sourcing stage, and ends at the Onboarding stage. As such, the focus of this post will be on the Sourcing, Screening, and Selection stages.
On the inside, the overall timeline for these three steps is 6 weeks, broken down as follows: 2 weeks to source, 2 weeks to interview, and 2 weeks’ notice. So to break this down even further, let’s look at each of these stages separately.
Typically, when a recruiter receives a new, approved role, they will post the role for two weeks. That said, there are a number of factors that can impact this timeline, such as:
- Organization is Unionized: the role may be posted for varying durations, depending on what is in the collective bargaining agreement.
- Recruitment System Set-Up: depending on how the recruitment system is set up, the role may be automatically taken offline at a specified time. Alternately, the role may remain online until it is filled.
- Recruiter Preference: similar to the automated recruitment system set up, a recruiter may wish to organize her/his desk and workload by either having roles remain online or go off line after a specified period of time.
Given that there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to job postings, it is usually better to apply to roles sooner rather than later.
As mentioned, a role may remain online until it is filled. Hence, this stage can begin in tandem with the sourcing stage. In other words, as the organization conducts their interviews, they may also continue to receive resumes from job seekers. As a result, the screening process may be extended to accommodate last minute applicants.
Additionally, depending on the level of the role or organizational policies, there may be several rounds of interviews. The greater the number of rounds of interviews, the longer the timeline for the screening phase. Coupled with this, the timeframe is highly dependent on the availability of both the interviewers and interviewees. Coordinating interviews with multiple parties can be challenge to accomplish in a timely manner.
Although most organizations would like to have this phase wrapped up within two weeks, it can take four weeks or longer.
This stage typically begins when an offer letter is extended to the successful candidate. There are a number of factors that can impact the duration of this phase, such as:
- Job Seeker’s Notice Period – in North America, an employee is typically required to provide two-week’s notice when they leave their current position. This can vary, however.
- Background Checks – depending on the background checks required for the role or organization, this process can take several weeks to complete.
- Counter Offer or Competing Offer – if the successful candidate receives more than one offer, they will take time to consider their options, thereby delaying this phase.
- Offer Rescinded or Rejected – the organization may rescind the offer of employment if a potential new hire does not pass this final stage. Alternately, the prospective new hire may reject the offer of employment in favour of another offer. In either case, the organization may need to start their search from scratch, thereby extending the overall recruitment life cycle.
In many cases, an organization will wait to reject the unsuccessful job applicants until this phase has been completed and a new hire has been confirmed. As such, it could take weeks and even months before a job seeker receives any feedback on their candidacy.
In addition to all of the factors mentioned throughout this post, seasonality can be a final factor that can impact the recruitment life cycle. For example, during the summer months the overall recruitment process can be drawn out due to accommodating interviewer/interviewee vacation schedules.
Remember, it may take several weeks from the time you apply to a role until you hear from the organization. Being aware of what you can expect at each stage of the recruitment life cycle should help to minimize any frustrations you may feel along your job search journey.
I hope you found this post helpful. If you have any additional insights, or would like to share your experience, I’d love to hear from you. Also, for personalized advice, check out the services section here.
Until next time, happy hunting!