An organization is only as strong as the people it employs. While it’s no secret business success depends on building teams of talented professionals, research by Robert Half has found nearly all (97%) of Australia’s hiring managers find it challenging to source qualified professionals.
In today’s high-demand, low-supply hiring environment, it’s vital companies act quickly to secure the best and most talented candidates before they’re snapped up by competitors.
In fact, companies are waging a fierce “war for talent” among candidates who are highly aware of their market value, so much so, that Robert Half’s research shows 63% of job seekers have accepted another offer because they waited to long to hear about a preferred role.
The financial costs of lengthy hiring processes
The risk of missing out on top candidates shouldn’t be the only motivator for implementing a streamlined recruitment process either. Slow and inefficient hiring practices can also be responsible for a host of negative consequences for businesses – some less obvious than others.
The financial costs of failing to fill vacant roles can be enormous, irrespective of whether the position in question directly generates revenue.
Unfilled roles can leave teams feeling overworked and demotivated, while the resulting decrease in morale may increase overall staff turnover. Unfilled roles can also cause important strategic projects to stall, reduce productivity and slow down business growth.
The reputational dangers of an inefficient hiring experience
The reputational risks of lengthy hiring processes are perhaps less foreseeable, but they’re apparent and incredibly costly to businesses – especially in a digital age where review platforms make company recruitment practices more transparent than ever before.
Over half (53%) of job seekers say they wouldn’t recommend a company as an employer if they hadn’t received a timely response about the status of their application. Meanwhile, a significant 43% say they’d consider writing a bad review about the employer if the hiring process took too long.
The question is, what does it take to meet candidates’ expectations during the hiring phase? While the average length of recruitment processes ranges from 2.5-3 months, over one-quarter (26%) of job seekers think one month or less is a reasonable timeframe.
There’s no doubt, first impressions count when it comes to gaining a competitive edge in a low-supply marketplace. As online reviews and word-of-mouth recommendations become increasingly important to the modern job seeker, employers that deliver a fast and professional experience from application to job offer are likely to be more successful at both securing and attracting top candidates.
So, here are nine steps to ensure your business is equipped to make fast decisions and deliver a streamlined hiring process on the pathway to building a workforce of highly-talented professionals.
1) Do your homework
Preparing for the hiring process is essential for making fast decisions and efficiently progressing through the hiring process. Consider the stakeholders who really need to be involved in the hiring process and keep the numbers to a minimum to avoid slower decision-making down the track.
Typically, the most important stakeholders might include an HR employee, project and team managers and key employees who might work closely with the new recruit.
Once essential stakeholders have been identified, clarify the hiring objectives such as whether the new hire will help maintain short-term productivity, support a specific project or contribute long-term value to the company. This might inform decisions around engaging a temporary, contract or permanent employee.
Finally, always ensure salaries are agreed and in budget right from the outset to avoid unnecessary delays when the process is underway.
2) Create the job ad
When the market is competitive, job ads must be well-written, inspiring, informative and highly-compelling in order to stand out in the crowd. After all, the quality of your job ad could make the difference between attracting only mediocre candidates and quickly acquiring your next star performer.
There are a few essential rules when it comes to crafting the perfect job ad.
Ensure role duties and skills are agreed among all stakeholders to prevent delays and giving candidates a disorganized impression.
Distinguish “need to have” and “nice to have” skills to avoid missing out on talented individuals who might not present as “ideal” in the first instance, and ensure you choose advertising platforms and channels wisely to reach your target candidates.
3) Evaluate resumes fairly and efficiently
The time taken to review resumes has a huge impact on the overall speed of your recruitment process. Determine exactly what to look for in each resume to ensure they’re reviewed efficiently, fairly and objectively.
When reviewing each resume, look for red flags that might indicate the candidate is not a good match, such as poor presentation and careless mistakes, and benchmark each resume against the agreed hiring criteria. A shortlist of top candidates should eventually be identified with a complete stakeholder agreement.
4) Set the framework for interviews
An interview must be capable of delivering a great first impression of the company and its culture, while thoroughly assessing candidates’ strengths and qualities beyond their technical skills. Robert Half’s research found over half (51%) of Australian job-seekers decide whether they want to work for a company during the interview.
There are a few ways to create a process that efficiently elicits the right information while impressing candidates with speed impeccable organization. These include an initial phone or Skype interview, preparing interview questions methodically and ahead of time, quickly sharing feedback among stakeholders and scheduling interviews over a short 1 to 2-day period.
5) Shortlist candidates
Stakeholders must come together to shortlist candidates promptly after interviews to keep the hiring timeframe to an absolute minimum.
By shortlisting candidates soon after the interview, stakeholders will be better equipped to assess candidates’ performance based on the agreed hiring criteria and whether there likely to fit with the company and its culture. By working together and cohesively, individual stakeholders can also ensure they maintain objectivity – selecting candidates based on criteria rather than attributes that stand out to them personally.
6) Check references
The best way to validate a candidate’s claims about their suitability to perform a role is to connect with at least two third-party referees who know the candidate professionally. These conversations can unearth a more accurate understanding of the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses in the workplace – provided the conversation has been planned and prepared for.
When performing reference checks, it’s beneficial to start with basic questions to ease into the conversation before narrowing the line of questioning to gain an understanding of technical skills, punctuality, team working skills, and personal qualities.
7) Make the final decision and offer
To avoid the risk of candidates accepting a job offer elsewhere, a final decision and offer should be made promptly after shortlisted candidates have been agreed by all stakeholders.
To ensure you’re able to act fast on your decision, finalize the contract and employment package, ensure all stakeholders are prepared to make quick decisions around pay and other benefits, prepare the written job offer and always be ready for a counteroffer.
8) Make new recruits feel welcome
With 59% of hiring managers reporting to have lost an employee during the probation period because of poor onboarding, it’s no surprise onboarding practices are a crucial step in the overall hiring process.
There could be many different aspects of a dynamic and robust onboarding program. These could include a scheduled first-day induction program, ensuring the candidate has adequate tools, ongoing support, regular catch-ups and quickly addressing any training requirements.
9) Never leave candidates in the dark
When the risks of damaging company reputation or losing candidates to other job offers are so high, every interaction throughout the recruitment process must deliver a great impression of the company and its culture.
For this reason, frequent communication, regular updates and timely responses to queries are essential to keeping sought-after candidates engaged – as well as keeping communication style consistent and maintaining a personal approach throughout. There’s no doubt, even if candidates are unsuccessful, courteous and prompt communication will leave them with a positive impression of the company.