A Start Date 9 Weeks Out Isn’t Onboarding – It’s Russian Roulette….

Kris Dunn Always Be Closing, Kris Dunn, Onboarding, Retention

Tim Tolan did a post a few weeks back on a very exclusive search, one so exclusive that it resulted in an offer including a proposed start date 9 weeks out.   Not the way you want things to go, but the candidate pool was so exclusive (only the elusive purple squirrel need apply) that Tim’s hand was forced:

"We got very creative with the client and candidate #1 and developed a list of "pre-on-Russian_rouletteboarding" strategies to keep him engaged for 9 weeks so he can collect his bonus, resign and begin his new career as the COO for my client. The real key to steeping out in faith on a deal like this – is to make sure you have a constant flow of activities to keep the candidate and the client company talking, meeting, working on projects, and starting the process of mentally preparing for the transition. The activities need to be engaging and, at minimum, have to occur every other week. Every week is even better if possible. You MUST keep them interested and excited while waiting for their start date! There are no options here!!!"

Couldn’t agree with Tim more, given the circumstances.  Another thing that Tim looked sharp on – the need to stay connected with the candidate through that 9-10 week period.  You obviously just can’t get acceptance of the offer, then say you’ll see the candidate in two months.  You’ve got to keep them engaged, because if you don’t, they’ll end up forgetting why they were so high on your company to begin with, then they’ll back out.

Here’s the thing that bothered me a little bit.  In the comments, Tim got justified kudos for the strategy to try and keep the candidate engaged.  The problem is that a lot of the commenters were calling the strategy onboarding or pre-onboarding. 

Valued Commenters – allowing 3-4 weeks before reporting, instead of 2, requires "onboarding".  Staying in touch with a candidate who has a start date 9 weeks out isn’t onboarding – it’s Russian Roulette.  Tim’s doing what he needs to do to try and land a purple squirrel, but it’s not where you want to be.

Ask Mike Dunleavy, a coach in the NBA who, around the same time Tim wrote his post, lost an All-Star to another team.  Dunleavy thought he had a handshake deal with Elton Brand, went out and got the player Brand wanted for the team (pre-onboarding!!), then Brand left.

From the clip – "he gave his word on a deal, the whole package was great… for whatever reason he changed his mind"

Probability of an employee actually joining your company goes way down any time a report date stretches beyond a month.  Tim knows that, but it’s the purple squirrel syndrome.  Here’s hoping Tim doesn’t feel like Mike Dunleavy at the agreed-upon start date.