Time-to-fill is Longer Than Ever: 2 Ways to Overcome That

May 7, 2015

The word that best describes many companies’ hiring process today?

Slow. And getting slower.

In February 2015, employers took an average of 26.8 days to hire for open jobs, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. That’s the highest total ever recorded – up 1.9 days from last year alone, or 7.6 percent – according to the newspaper.

If you think about it, it makes sense – it takes time to find the very best person for the job. But it also provides a real challenge for recruiters, as candidates tend to lose interests if they are kept in limbo for too long.

So, why is this trend happening and how can you overcome it?

The reason for increasingly long hiring processes

Today, companies are starting to care much more about quality-of-hire than time-to-hire. In fact, when we asked 4,125 talent acquisition leaders what was the metric they cared most about, quality-of-hire was the run-away winner, far out-pacing time-to-fill:

time to fill stats

And, since companies today are so worried about whom they hire – instead of when – they are using more assessment tools, such as personality tests and multiple structured interviews.

For example, 57 percent of large US companies used some sort of “pre-hire assessment” in 2013 – i.e. a personality test – compared to just 26 percent in 2001, according to the Wall Street Journal. These additional screening processes, coupled with more interviews, all extend the time it takes to hire.

The potential negative impact on candidates (and recruiters)

When someone applies for a job, they usually apply for multiple jobs. And, if they’re an exceptional candidate, other companies are likely contacting them as well. So a long hiring process means a higher chance you lose out on the best people before you ever give them an offer.

Obviously streamlining your process helps – but not at the expense of quality.

The Solution

To keep candidates engaged throughout a long process, two things have to happen:

1. Constant communication

Recruiting leaders agree: candidates will tolerate longer hiring processes – and be less likely to apply for other jobs and entertain other offers – if they’re getting frequent updates from the company they’re applying to.

Mass emails are okay at the beginning of the process – we received your application, your resume is being considered (or not being considered), etc – but once the first round of screenings begin, it's time for a personal touch. At the minimum, a candidate should hear from their potential employer at least once-a-week. The more communication, the better. 

2. And a great employer brand

A great employer brand can cure a lot of ills, including a long hiring process. When surveyed, 83 percent of recruiting leaders said an employer brand significantly impacts their ability to hire great talent, as it works as a glue that keeps candidates interested in a multi-week hiring process.

Looking for some ways to improve your employer brand? Never underestimate the power of great content – it's your ticket for engaging candidates and giving your company a human voice. To help, we put together a list of 10 tips, including a free content calendar you can use.

Final thought

In the not-so-distant past, when labor was seen as more of a commodity, time-to-hire was a critical measure. Companies were filled of process-heavy jobs and the prevailing wisdom was the longer that process wasn’t getting done, the more money the company would lose.

And that was pretty much true.

Today, most of those process-heavy jobs are automated, with companies now making money by hiring creative, intelligent people who can discover efficiencies and dream up great new ideas. So while time-to-hire shouldn’t be ignored, it certainly isn’t as important of a metric as it was before.

That said, if you have a long hiring process, you run the risk of losing the great people are trying so hard to get. To overcome that, streamline your process where possible and keep candidates engaged with frequent communication and a strong employer brand.

* Image by Julie Falk

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