Time is of the essence in winning the talent game


In any job market, talent can come and go in the blink of an eye. This is especially true today.

Six years after the recession began, the economy and the job market continue to inch towards recovery at a glacial pace. However, while the general unemployment rate hovers above 7 percent, the unemployment rate for college graduates with a bachelor’s degree or above is less than 4 percent. The gap between college educated professionals and those without high school degrees is even more profound, as the unemployment rate for the latter segment is 12.7 percent. The competition for well-educated, well-prepared professionals is fierce (a function of supply and demand), and the opportunity to hire them is fleeting.

In fact, in many industries, there is only one active job seeker for every three available positions. This shortage of skilled workers plagues companies across all industries, including healthcare, professional services, manufacturing and others. When qualified candidates do come on the job market, they don’t stay there for long.

While it is clearly advantageous for businesses to remain nimble and proactive in the pursuit of the best available talent, not all companies do. This is a function of the widely held belief that a lengthy hiring process is beneficial because it provides enough time to compare candidates and to be absolutely certain that the best person is hired. Though there is merit to this train of thought, it overlooks the very basic fact that hiring needs to occur in order to fill a business requirement. By delaying a decision, whether out of prudence or policy, companies fail to address their business requirements promptly.

There is a business reason to fill a position, and there is an increasingly persuasive business reason to fill a position quickly. A drawn-out hiring and on-boarding process costs time and money that is, quite simply, too valuable to waste, particularly in today’s tight economy. For every day that a position goes unfilled, a business requirement goes unaddressed and the company loses money. And every minute spent on a drawn-out hiring process costs time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Here are some suggestions for speeding up the hiring process in order to connect with the skilled talent you need, when you need it:

Be more selective.
In my experience, I’ve seen that the most time-consuming part of the interview process is often first-round interviews. Too many companies bring in anywhere from five to 10 people for an interview despite only being impressed by three to five resumes. By trusting your gut during the resume review period, you’ll eliminate hours of wasted time spent interviewing unqualified candidates.

Think ahead.
Many companies only ask for references after extending an offer to a candidate. Even if it only takes a day or two for the candidate to provide contact information, and another day or two to get in touch with the references, that still adds up to several days of wasted time, as well as several day in lost productivity and administrative wages. A better approach is to require references from all candidates during the first round of interviews and to conduct reference calls after the second round of interviews. By conducting interviews before extending an offer, you’ll be able to make more informed — and more timely — hiring decisions.

Ask for help.
Whether you’re a smaller company with a limited HR staff or a large global organization looking to fill multiple positions, delays in the hiring process are inevitable. But with a little help, they’re also avoidable. By bringing in a staffing company as a consultant, you can significantly streamline your screening, hiring and on-boarding processes. Though a staffing agency costs money, the time and administrative expenses that you will reduce, not to mention the quality improvements that you will realize, will make it well worth it. Perhaps the biggest benefit to speeding up the hiring process is that doing so allows HR departments to spend more time and attention on retaining valuable current employees than on recruiting new ones. It’s easy to forget that retention and talent management are just as important to HR as recruitment, especially because recruiting takes up so much time. As the economy — and the competition for qualified, skilled workers — intensifies, it is imperative for companies to keep their “eyes on the prize” and ensure top talent is satisfied and engaged, so as not to risk losing those valuable employees. It’s often said that the most valuable asset any company has is its people, and I couldn’t agree more. Getting high-performing people hired and ready to work as soon as possible is a critical factor in business success — and a key to winning the talent game.

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