Answer: A six-month process (or longer) is simply too long for a search. If the hiring manager outlines a timetable at the beginning of the process and adheres to it, that can shave months off an assignment.
I’ve remarked that the strategic leader of the process is the CCO or CMO who has the most to gain from a well-managed effort.
A search is no more than a complex project to manage. Being a leader does not mean executing the work. It does mean that the leader (who can appoint a deputy) will have oversight, set expectations, establish deadlines and keep the project on an agreed upon timeline. That means having a discussion at the very beginning of the assignment to describe step by step actions.
For example, if a job must be posted internally, can that be done as soon as filling the position is approved (using an existing or slightly modified description?) If a job description must be updated, what is the fastest way to make the changes and route it internally for approval? Are major events occurring, e.g. industry conferences or annual budgets due for submission? The recruiting schedule can avoid being undermined by creating an initial planning document, a timeline, an outline with specific tasks assigned and reporting deadlines.
This process should become the normal way searches are managed. Accountability is the key. The team leader should use the status reports to question the effectiveness of the effort and to determine how realistic the timetable is to generate results. These reports can also be selectively circulated to leaders who will be asked to participate in interviewing finalists. That may be helpful to obtain or confirm their support of the search when their cooperation is needed.
If your in-house or external recruiter is in regular communication with you (or your deputy) as a result of you paying attention to his/her status reports, you can expect the assignment will stay on track. Since the team leader is making the search a priority, the signal couldn’t be clearer that getting timely results matters.