In any job market – but perhaps never more than in today’s workforce - top talent can come and go in the blink of an eye. Based on the pace needed to secure these top performers, you could make the assumption that the majority of companies are nimble and poised to react quickly and efficiently to ensure they get available top talent. But this isn’t always the case; not all organizations wish to speed up hiring.
Some organizations believe that a longer hiring process is helpful because it ensures that a company has adequate time to compare candidates and ensure that they are hiring the best person for the position. While there is some merit to this argument, it overlooks an important fact: hiring must be equally viewed as both a people decision and a business decision.
Hiring happens when a person is needed to fill a business requirement or gap. When hiring an employee makes sense for the business, then it will happen. If not, then it won’t - a concept clearly illustrated by the job market of 2009-2011. When examining the make-up of a company, it’s not only important to examine all the components that make a business successful and profitable, but to also understand how top talent is an integral part of that equation — a core part of its “DNA.”
The Need for Speed in Hiring Is Increasing
Today, employees who were once reluctant to leave a job for fear of losing security are now more likely to make a move. Furthermore, that pool of highly-qualified talent that was rendered jobless by the recession is more eager than ever to get back into the workforce now that opportunities are opening up — particularly in sectors like healthcare and professional services where hiring is taking place.
If you look at recent data issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a significant difference in unemployment rates between those without a high school diploma (13.8 percent) and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (4.1 percent). Job searchers with a higher education face substantially lower unemployment rates than the national average of 8.5 percent. As a result, there is a premium for these candidates and companies need to move quickly to ensure that the best of the best are working for you.
What all of this means is that just as there is a business reason to fill a position, there is a business benefit to filling that position quickly. A drawn-out hiring and onboarding process costs time and money that is too valuable to waste, particularly in today’s tight economy. For every day a company has not filled a position that solves a business problem, that company is losing money. And, every minute spent on hiring employees costs money that could be better spent in other areas.
How to Speed Up Hiring
Here are ways that your organization can speed up the hiring process:
- Utilize your internal network. The first step in the hiring process should be to notify existing employees of the open position. This may seem obvious, but sometimes it’s a step that happens after the job has already been posted publicly. Internal job postings give employees who may want to make a lateral move or change jobs within the company a chance to apply. They are also encouraged to look at their own professional networks for possible candidates.
- Write a clear job description for the open position. This may seem like common sense. But, you would not believe how many times a candidate search goes awry because the hiring manager has not specified clearly enough the skills needed for the position. Creating a thorough job description that helps Human Resources identify candidates in the first round will ultimately lead to better candidates — and a faster hiring process.
- Be more selective about the candidates you bring in for an interview.. The most time-consuming part of the interview process is often the first-round interviews. Though many companies have a fairly rigorous screening process, including phone screens, too many bring in anywhere from five to 10 people for an interview when they may only be impressed by three to five of them from their resumes. Trust your gut in the resume review round to eliminate hours of potentially wasted time for you and the hiring team.
- Think ahead and eliminate steps that add time to your hiring process. For example, many companies only ask for references once they’ve decided to offer a position to a candidate. If it takes a day or two for the prospective employee to get the references to you and then another day or two to contact those references, this can add up to a week to your hiring process. This can cost your company money in lost wages and administrative time. Request references from candidates at the time of the first round of interviews. Check the references for those candidates who make it to the second interviews before you think about extending a job offer.
- Create a long-term talent plan. Most of the time spent during the hiring process is a result of seeking out qualified candidates to interview. Typically, the search begins when an organization has an open position. This means that your open position will take at least a month to fill. To cut down time, hold informational interviews with prospective candidates for different areas within the company – in advance of a job opening. This helps to build a pipeline of talent and can even eliminate the first-round HR screening process that adds days and weeks to the hiring process.
- Ask for help or outsource portions of your hiring process. Whether you’re a smaller company with a limited HR staff or a large international organization working on hiring multiple positions, the reason for a delayed hiring process is probably largely out of your control. Bringing in a staffing company as a consultant to help with the hiring and onboarding process will cost money but save both time and administrative costs. You can also expect a quality screening and hiring process from an outside consultant because you are paying for it.
The most significant benefit, when you speed up the hiring and onboarding process, is that the time saved allows HR departments to pay attention to the initiatives and activities that will help you retain employees. It’s easy to forget that retention and talent management are such an important part of the HR function because recruiting can take up so much time. As the economy improves, companies must keep their eye on the prize. Ensuring that top talent is satisfied and engaged, so you don't risk losing your most valuable people, is imperative.
It’s often said that the most valuable asset a company has is its people - and I couldn’t agree more. Getting high performing people hired and ready to work as quickly as possible is an important contributor to any company’s success - and a key to winning the talent game.