Quality or Quantity: What’s Really Slowing the Hiring Process Down?

Quality or Quantity: What’s Really Slowing the Hiring Process Down?

Emily Smykal

The number of jobs available to candidates is surging, but that doesn’t mean it’s all smooth sailing through the hiring process today. As we’ve previously discussed, the 5.75 million job openings reported in the US is the highest this century. Yet the average time to fill an opening continues to rise to record heights, too. And at the same time, the overall hiring rate in the US has slowly declined.

This news flies in the face of our strengthening economy. Post-recession, we’re now experiencing a labor market that favors workers, with an increased willingness among those workers to switch jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2.7 million people voluntarily left their jobs in July alone. And it doesn’t help that job hopping is even more common among the largest contingent of the workforce, Millennials ages 18-34.

With the growth in job openings and the prevalence of mobile young workers, you’d expect the hiring process to be working full steam ahead at most companies. Recent surveys show this isn’t the case, and that a slow hiring process has less to do with economic data points and more to do with individual people. In this post we’ll discuss what’s holding back the hiring process in the US today.

Data: Inspecting The Hiring and Recruitment Bottleneck

The hiring rate has slowed, according to national data. But how do we know there’s a real bottleneck in the hiring process? A recent survey by PI Worldwide sheds some light on the issue. Using an online poll, they found 55% blamed attracting the right candidates in the first place as the number one problem leading to a slow hiring process at their company.

Considering the reduced hiring rate in the US labor market this year, PI Worldwide’s findings make sense. Businesses may have more jobs open, but with so many candidates available to them, they’re having a harder time sorting through the applicants to find the best person for the job. Most organizations know by now the dangers of hiring too quickly–a bad hire can unsettle the workplace and put a dent in your bottom line.

So now the labor market finds itself hurtling towards a bottleneck. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of workers applying for more and more jobs, forcing recruiters to decide between making a quick, potentially inappropriate decision, or taking their time and forcing the company to shoulder the burden of an open position. It’s no wonder that we’ve reached another milestone: time to fill hit a record 29 days in July.

Candidate Quality vs. Quantity

The PI Worldwide survey was small, but it’s undoubtedly part of a trend in the recruitment world. Glassdoor conducted research by interviewing job candidates, and found that the hiring process is protracted globally, not just in the US. CareerBuilder’s 2015 Candidate Behavior Study also identified hiring troubles based on qualified candidates. In their survey, 54% of employers admit it has been progressively more difficult to find qualified candidates in the last five years. In addition, 50% of all employers feel it’s difficult to find candidates with the right skills for their open positions.

So it sounds like we have an imbalance between quality and quantity, right? Not necessarily. Not all jobs require the same level of technical skills, and not all hiring processes need to screen candidates in the same way. Glassdoor found that in the US, hiring police officers can take an average of 127.6 days, while software engineers can spend 21 days going through the interview process. On the other hand, entry-level sales and bartending positions are filled on average in just over five days.

Complex jobs that require extensive training and skills don’t merit the exact same hiring process as low-skilled jobs. So we are actually witnessing two problems emerge here. Recruiters are having a hard time finding candidates with the right skill set for specific roles, and they may not be considering the differences between job requirements when sending candidates through the hiring process.

Don’t Let the Slow Hiring Process Hold You Back

Does this mean the problem is just that hiring managers are pickier than they used to be? That they don’t know how to use the latest tools in recruiting? Not exactly. While a skills gap, and technology gap, lead to some difficulties in the hiring process, a more thorough and thoughtful talent acquisition strategy shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. What recruiters need in today’s labor market is a robust talent acquisition strategy that combines detail with efficiency.

Qualified candidates, with the rights skills and attitude for the job, are more likely to stay with a company for a longer period of time. But before you find them, your first priority should be your overall recruitment process. Simply posting a job description on the top job boards, then sitting back and waiting, won’t get you the candidates your hiring managers need.

Proactive talent acquisition strategies for today’s labor market include building responsive career websites that transition seamlessly to mobile, and connect instantly with social channels. Recruiters must offer candidates advanced job searching options and easy-to-use application processes. And they must have access not just to the most useful data about their processes, but also about the jobs they’re required to fill. Better prepared and better informed recruiters will find that locating quality candidates need not be a painful experience.

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