Commentary: Job seekers, do not settle for second choice 

Commentary: Job seekers, do not settle for second choice 

Job seekers have a good shot at their dream jobs if they are proactive in taking charge and navigating delays in the recruitment process, says one observer from Robert Half Singapore.

Singapore crowd file
People crossing a street in Singapore's central business district. (File photo: Reuters)

SINGAPORE: It’s getting harder to find candidates with the right fit, as job requirements grow in tandem with the trend of digitalisation. 

This has been a key challenge for many business leaders. According to recent research by recruitment agency Robert Half, almost all CFOs surveyed find it more challenging to source qualified professionals, and almost nine in 10 of CIOs find it more challenging to find skilled candidates – compared to five years ago. 

Despite this ongoing war for talent, why is it that many job seekers say businesses seem slow with offering them a job when they were found to be suitable?

More than seven in 10 job seekers in Singapore surveyed said they have taken a “second-choice” job offer because their preferred employer took too long to give them an answer, according to another survey commissioned by Robert Half. 

Almost two-thirds also say they have waited longer than a month to hear back about a role for which they have interviewed, while four in 10 have waited longer than six weeks – and one in four say this duration was even longer for them – a whopping two months or more. 

Merely 1 per cent got feedback on the same day. 

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This is a disconcerning trend – that in the current tight labour market, many employers are unintentionally alienating potential workers with long drawn-out hiring processes.

Job seekers with specialised skills are aware of the advantage they have in the employment market, so it is disturbing that many of Singapore’s skilled professionals are turning down their preferred jobs because of the time they spend waiting to hear back on their progress during the recruitment process.

Japan office workers
(Photo: AFP/Toshifumi Kitamura)

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What’s causing the delay? Companies are being very cautious and want to be certain they are choosing the right person for the job to avoid a costly hiring mistake.

But there are a few courses of action job seekers themselves can take to navigate delays in the recruitment process and motivate employers to come to a hiring decision more quickly.


Job applicants should not leave the interview until they have confirmation the hiring manager has all the information required and have clarified sufficiently on the next steps in the recruitment process. 

This allows candidates to address any concerns the employer may have before they make their final decision. 

Additionally, asking for clarifications on next steps can help set a clearer timeframe for when job seekers can expect to hear an update on their application. 

boss subordinate discussing work cafe office
A woman engaged in a discussion in a cafe. (Photo: Pixabay)


The best way for job applicants to remain top of mind with the hiring manager is by following up within 48 hours of the first interview. 

For example, a thank you note can be a nice touch and could help applicants stand out by reaffirming their interest in the position. 

Additionally, communication goes both ways – candidates who have not heard back from the hiring manager after a week should be proactive in following up by email or calling them. 

In the event the employer has no update, candidates should ask about when they can expect to hear back and express their interest in the role once again.


One additional way for job seekers to potentially speed up the hiring process is to remind the hiring manager that they are still job hunting. 

In the event they have received interest from and have been interviewing with other companies, candidates should inform the hiring manager as well. This helps set clear expectations to prospective employers, especially now they know they are not the only business competing for a candidate’s talent.

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Attendees carry their resumes at a job fair in Washington
Attendees at a job fair line up for an interview carrying their resumes in leather bags. (Photo: REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Candidates need to take charge of the hiring process. This means doing their part in taking the necessary steps, being proactive in expressing their commitment and interest, as well as communicating openly with potential employers. 

However, it is also important for them to remain patient during the recruitment process and remember that companies only want the best person for the job. 

Equally, employers need to adjust their recruitment process to the expectations of today’s candidates if they want to reduce the risk of losing out on top talent. 

While it may be time-consuming for hiring managers, businesses need to look towards streamlining their entire recruitment process, from initial outreach to final job offer, to strike the right balance for today’s job seekers.  

Matthieu Imbert-Bouchard is managing director at Robert Half Singapore.

Source: CNA/nr(sl)