When you run a headhunter network, as I do, you hear many good and bad stories about agency recruiting. Lately I have heard that recruiters are growing weary of how slow employers are to act on good candidates. I have been doing an informal survey of what drives this lack of urgency for clients resulting in slow and ineffective hiring decisions.
- Unclear Job Descriptions. Sometime the speed to hire is slowed by a lack of job clarity. In our headhunter network, I hear about jobs that start off with one set of expectations and by the time the hire is made, the role has changed as have the salary and the expectations.
- Change of Management. Agency recruiters have reported slowed decision-making when ownership and managers change. No one wants to make a hire when the company is in flux.
- Complex Interview Process. When the list of employer interviews changes and grows, you can be sure the hiring process will be delayed. Those in our headhunter network indicate the fastest decisions are made when the interview process is defined in advance and is maintained through the hiring process. Scheduling third and fourth interviews is one way to make sure top talent is chased away.
- Cost of Open Positions Not Understood. Open positions have a cost. Unfilled openings burden the people that must pick up the overflow of work. For positions that are truly valuable, the revenue lost is measured in most companies as 3 to 5 times the annual salary…real revenue that is being lost. If more companies realized this, they would be focused on adding speed to their process. Many times managers that are not “profit centers” but are “cost centers” view open positions as “cost savings.”
- Slow is Better Mentality. It is not uncommon for employers to believe that slowing down the process will help them make a better hiring decision. There is logic in this belief but members of NPA’s headhunter network agree that it only holds true for the disorganized client that does not have a clear position description, a solid management team, and a proven interview process. For the majority of employers, slow decisions assure that the highest quality candidates will be gone before the decision to hire is executed.
- No Sense of Urgency. This is usually an extension of the leadership and perhaps a few of the other items listed above. Unless someone is holding the hiring manager accountable for a timely hire, the hire will be a lower priority than other responsibilities. When employers engage agency recruiting firms, firms can act to hold a hiring manager accountable — but only if supported at the leadership level of the organization.
- Failure to Understand Market Conditions. This one is a constant source of conflict between agency recruiters and employers. The agencies understand the shifts in market dynamics and employers tend to be informed by external news media reporting. So the employer hears that unemployment is at near record highs and assumes this means they have the pick of talent just waiting for an offer. They do not understand that for university graduates with 5 to 10 years of experience, unemployment is at nearly full employment levels. That means that anyone really wanting a job has one. Employers can mistakenly believe they are in a job-driven market when the shift to a candidate-driven market occurred in months or years prior.
In summary, slow response time is costing employers money and causing them to lose the best available talent. Competitors are hiring the top candidates while other employers are leaving positions unfilled. Moving too slowly to extend offers to qualified candidates is sacrificing a competitive advantage. Scheduling that 3rd or 4th interview may cost an employer the best talent. Sometimes employers need to learn the hard way. Agency recruiting firms can act to inform employers, but employers need to adopt a “get it done now” sense of urgency in order to compete for top talent in today’s market.