Creative Managers: How To Create A Concise Hiring Timeline (And Why)

By Lucy Marino, executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half, which connects employers with skilled marketing, creative, digital, advertising and public relations professionals to meet their specialized recruiting needs. Marino manages strategy and operations for the company’s marketing and creative talent solutions teams across U.S. locations.


Today’s competitive hiring market waits for no one, especially when it comes to landing top talent. In a recent Robert Half survey, a staggering 83% of managers reported missing out on a good hire in the past year. Among those, 29% pinpointed a drawn-out hiring process as the main culprit. With hiring timelines extending up to 11 weeks — a 57% increase from 2021 — creative managers must act swiftly yet thoughtfully to secure the best additions for their teams.

So, how can you make sure your hiring process is fast and effective? As a recruiting professional with more than 20 years’ experience helping companies hire creative talent, here are eight tips I would recommend to speed things up.


1. Set A Timeline — And Stick To It

Setting a timeframe for key milestones, such as kick-starting interviews, discussing feedback on candidates and sending out job offers, helps keep everyone on the same page and moving forward. For entry-level roles, you might be looking at about five weeks to successfully onboard a candidate, while securing a manager could take as long as eight weeks. Use digital calendars or project management software to ensure key steps are not missed or delayed, which could send your top candidates looking elsewhere.


2. Craft A Clear And Detailed Job Description

Leaving candidates in the dark with a vague job description can cause them to second-guess their suitability for the role and drop out of the process. By contrast, a detailed, no-nonsense job description improves the candidate experience and speeds things up on your end. To keep your job posts concise, eliminate skills that candidates can pick up once they’re on board. For example, if you’re hiring a graphic designer, knowing their way around Adobe Illustrator is a given, but managing a specific project management software campaign can be something they learn on the job.


3. Accelerate Your Interview Process 

A drawn-out interview process might as well be a neon sign saying, “Hey, top-tier candidates, feel free to join our more agile competitors instead!” Consider consolidating several interviews into a single day or hosting panel interviews with multiple decision-makers present. This reduces the scheduling back-and-forth associated with individual interviews. Also, optimizing your virtual interview experience for initial screenings can streamline the process. Not only does this save your company precious time, but it also respects the time of top talent ready for their next role.


4. Be Picky But Pragmatic

Don’t let excellent talent slip through your fingers in the race to find the “perfect” candidate. Remember, no applicant will tick every single box on your wish list. So rather than waiting for a mythical “purple unicorn” who excels at everything, look closer at the candidates who shine in the areas that matter most for your team’s success.


5. Keep Communication Lines Open

If candidates feel out of the loop or overlooked, they may decide to slip away quietly from the process, a scenario known as “ghosting.” That’s why it’s critical to update candidates regularly, letting them know where they stand and the timeline for upcoming steps. Even when there are unavoidable delays, a simple update can keep their interest alive and show them you value their time.


6. Capitalize On Networking

There’s plenty of truth to the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” Networking allows you to tap into a talent pool already familiar with your brand or industry. Hosting networking events, attending industry conferences or encouraging employee referrals are ways to reach out to potential candidates directly, accelerating the hiring process. Plus, candidates sourced through networking often come pre-vetted, meaning less time spent on validating their experience and more time getting them integrated into your team.


7. Invest In Upskilling And Reskilling

With continuous emerging trends and the potential to integrate new technology like AI into your team’s process, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within your organization can be a powerful tool for quickly staffing open positions. By investing in the potential of your current employees, you’re preparing them for future roles. A proven track-record of professional development and internal mobility can significantly shorten the hiring process, as existing employees already know the company culture and have a track record you can trust. Plus, showing you’re committed to your team’s growth can be a real draw for external candidates hungry to learn and develop their careers.


8. Look Before You Leap

Swift action is necessary in today’s job market, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of due diligence. After identifying your top candidate, aim to produce an official offer letter the same day the candidate accepts. However, remember to check references carefully to reduce the chances of a bad hire — which could mean five months of wasted time between dismissal and rehiring.


Bottom Line:

In today’s hiring market with low unemployment numbers in the creative space, talented job seekers have plenty of options. If your recruitment is sluggish and disorganized, you risk losing out on top creative talent to more nimble rivals. A brisk hiring process not only saves time but also creates a positive candidate experience and boosts your brand. Don’t throw caution to the wind — but don’t hesitate to shake things up if a tedious hiring process is holding you back.


Lucy Marino is executive director of the marketing and creative practice at global talent solutions firm Robert Half.