In a highly competitive marketplace, slow hiring can be one of the most damaging factors for executive recruitment agencies. Whether it’s the client’s fear of making a bad choice, or disregarding other candidates who don’t match nearly all their desired qualifications, the results are the same – it dramatically slows down the hiring process.
But an unfilled position is a costly distraction, and many times requires a manager to do their own work; handling or delegation of the work left by the previous employee; and finding and hiring the new employee – all detrimental to the bottom line.
According to a recent article by internationally-renowned professor, author, and HR thought leader Dr. John Sullivan, the average time to fill a job averages 44 calendar days, an increase of 50 percent since 2010 (Source: CEB).
“Slow hiring decisions mean that most of your top applicants will lose interest or accept a faster offer long before your firm gets around to a decision which, unavoidably, will result in a large number of mediocre hires,” said Dr. Sullivan. “If the hiring process continues to drag over time, the most sought-after prospects will have many opportunities to make quick offer acceptance decisions rather than to wait for a possible future offer from your company. So even if you capture them as an applicant, the odds of them still being available when you reach the late stages of an extended recruiting process are zero.”
Being slow to hire means keeping a job open until the right person shows up, but the opposite approach is better. If you cultivate top talent and wait for the right job to show up, you’re building a virtual pipeline of ready-to-hire talent. When a candidate beats out another during the hiring process, it usually comes down to the smallest details. However, employers often forget to maintain a relationship with those candidates who were their second or third choice during the hiring process.
Smart employers should never dismiss their pool of candidates, even when they find the perfect fit. Just because a candidate didn’t make the first round, that doesn’t mean they should be disqualified. Employers need to build a funnel of talent to have an even more efficient hiring process down the road.
“In this competitive job market we are experiencing today, it is almost impossible to get a 100% match,” said Ann Sylvia, Vice President and Practice Leader for Duffy Group, Inc. “By revisiting potential candidates who may not meet all the desired requirements, you can accelerate the hiring process. Having someone in place delivering versus keeping the position vacant avoids a situation where the company is losing revenue or creating a heavier workload on another employee. Often the new hire has the potential to come up to speed quickly on the areas where they were lacking with some coaching and mentoring. It’s important to understand a candidate’s potential and not just what they have already accomplished.”
Employers shouldn’t let go of second choice candidates because they have the potential to be exceptional employees. By building relationships with your strongest candidates, you’ll have the opportunity to make improved hiring decisions in the future. It’s also important to send second choice candidates information about new opportunities with your organization when they come available. This will keep them interested in your company during their job search.
Perhaps the most compelling reasons for speeding up your hiring process are based on the tremendous cost associated with losing top candidates because your hiring process is too slow. The most significant economic costs include:
- Lower-quality hires
- Direct revenue loss
- Lower productivity
- Losing talent to a competitor
- Losing a competitive advantage
- Co-worker stress
- Higher salary demands
Additionally, negative issues for in-demand candidates created by a slow hiring process include a high drop out rate, the opportunity for them to apply elsewhere, and a lower offer acceptance rate— fast hiring and keeping top candidates interested up until the end will likely increase your offer acceptance rates.
Slow hiring may also have multiple negative impacts on hiring decisions and on executive recruitment firms. When you are interviewing multiple candidates over a long period of time, it is harder to make side by side comparisons because the interviews are spread so far apart. A long drawn out hiring process leads to frustration and many hiring managers will, unfortunately, often make a hasty decision and settle for less just to put an end to the hiring process.
The Bottom Line
According to Dr. Sullivan, fast hiring is especially important during times of low unemployment because the competition for talent continues unabated and retention rates continue to skyrocket. Recruiting leaders must realize that speed hiring not only fills vacant positions faster but also allows you to beat the competition for top talent.