What’s up with job starting dates?

I received the following question via Twitter (follow me at http://twitter.com/unjoblist_news and ask your questions there) and here is my take:

Question: Why do hiring managers post the start date of a job within a month and then you hear nothing from them?


Honestly, you would need to ask the individual hiring agency directly but here is my take:

To get started there are two possible reasons why you don’t hear from an agency. First, you may simple not be getting an invite to an interview. Most agencies don’t tell you that you have not made it. So expect to only hear from an agency if they are actually offering you an interview.

Secondly, there may be a delay between the advertisement and the interview and then there maybe delays at a later stage, too. So here is the overview how the overall hiring process typically looks like:

I have written a bit more about the overall time lines it takes for all these steps to complete here: http://www.rottmair.de/2011/08/03/un-recruitment-what-steps-take-how-long-in -the-process/

Typically the hiring manager is very keen on filling a vacancy as soon as possible. After all the hiring manager has a true interest in getting the work done and the sooner a vacancy is filled the earlier the colleague can start working and take workload off the team.

However, as you can see there are a number of steps that happen between the two red circles of advertisement and finally the written test / the interview. And while the hiring manager is keen on moving through these steps as quickly as possible, there are some pitfalls along the way. For instance it may be a problem to find enough colleagues to help with the long listing since there are often times many hundred applicants and every applications has to be reviewed very carefully. The same may apply to the short list, too. Also, depending on the internal organizational setup of the organization you apply to, these lists will need to be approved by supervisors which may take some time, too.

And even if you scored a test or an interview, there is more room for delays: Typically a report has to be written, signed off, the overall process will need to be reviewed and approved, offer letters need to be drafted, conditions negotiated and letter of appointments need to be signed. Any of these steps can take a moment or two.

Coming back to your question on the starting date: The starting date often times is an indication of a business need from the hiring manager. An indication that as of the starting date the tasks as outlined in the job description need to be worked on. However, the hiring manager may not succeed in getting someone for this starting date for the reasons outlined above and in any case most of the time the starting date is up for negotiation. So I would treat the starting date as a rough indication of when the work ideally should start. I would not treat it as hard indicator for the end of the hiring process, there are just too many factors beyond the control of the hiring manager that impact on the completion of the process.


2 responses

    • Yes, I can imagine that. I know of many people that have similar experiences. It is indeed very hard to get a job at the UN. If you apply, make sure you fulfill all(!) their requirements (education, relevant experience, exact skills etc.) and even if you fulfill all requirements it still is very hard since there are just so many applicants. It’s really not easy unfortunately.

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