The truth behind why roles go "on hold"

David Leithead 12.08.2019

Moving companies can, and should, be one of the most exciting things you do in your career. However, there are a number of frustrations that can spoil this excitement.

Why do roles go on hold?

The most common frustration is when the perfect role goes "on hold". These words don’t tell you much about the situation, and are often little more than a screen for the truth. So, when a role goes on hold, what is really going on?

1) The first explanation is that it hasn't gone on hold 

It is a rather cynical view, but it cannot be discounted that the line manager finds giving bad news difficult. So rather than communicating that you are not a good culture fit, or maybe that your skills are not as strong as other candidates, he/she may advise you that the role is “on hold”. This is rare, but it is your recruitment consultant’s job to be aware of this possibility, and to try and find out the real feedback!

2) The role failed to get approval 

This is a much more common scenario. A line manager, enthusiastic to hire, starts recruiting a position before they have the necessary approval from HR. In this instance, working with a consultant can really add value to your search. It is our job to ensure that every role we bring to market is fully approved by HR and has all the necessary paperwork completed.

3) The budget was pulled 

This is most common in large organisations, especially ones looking to reduce their operational expenditure. Such businesses are very complex and often work from a matrix structure, with recruitment budgets dependent upon many different stakeholders. Budgets being pulled in this way are often unpredictable, and happen with little warning. If this does occur, it is your consultant’s job to find out when/if budget re-negotiations will take place, so you know where you stand in your search.

4) You are the second choice candidate

It is sadly not uncommon that a line manager will tell a consultant that the role is on hold, in order to buy more time to get another candidate to accept their position. This is probably the most frustrating reason for roles going "on hold", and is one of the drivers of poor trust between candidates and consultants. At Morgan McKinley we are striving to eradicate this possibility by always being upfront with our candidates as to how they stand in the process, and educating our clients as to the value of being open and honest at each stage of the process.

5) There is an internal candidate who has applied for the role 

The internal candidate applied at the last minute, and out of courtesy the line manager wants to give them a fair shot. This is an understandable explanation, but it is our job as your consultant to try and ensure that all internal candidates have been screened before we talk to you about the role.                    

6) There is an internal candidate, but the line manager is not sure if he/she will accept the position 

Similar to the previous reason, but with a lower chance of the role coming back on to the market. Again, it is our job to ensure that all internal options are considered before you hear about the role.

7) Line manager's work load 

Line managers have to find time for internal interviews, meetings with HR, drafting of job specs and reviewing CVs, all while completing their normal day job. Is it any wonder that recruitment sometimes goes on to the back burner? Working with a quality consultant should dramatically reduce the amount of time line managers need to dedicate to the search, and so if we do our job properly, roles going on hold for this reason should be kept to a minimum.

So, there you have it, the truth behind roles going “on hold”, and what we do at Morgan McKinley to minimise the impact. Do you think you've ever been given a false reason for a role going on hold?

David Leithead's picture
Chief Operations Officer UK
dleithead@morganmckinley.co.uk