This summer, I spent a morning facilitating an interviewing and hiring program for a group of managers at one of our member organizations, a large medical association. Spending time in the classroom is always rewarding as it affords me the opportunity to share my knowledge with others, explore the challenges they're facing, and help them do their jobs more effectively. At the end of this session, I asked the trainees what their most important "take-away" was. And, much to my surprise, the most popular answer was something I commented on several times throughout the program as opposed to a specific topic covered in the materials: "Pick up the pace or you'll lose good candidates in today's job market."
Although my intention was not to leave my trainees panicked about the speed of the recruitment and selection process, I did impart a sense of urgency due to the competitive environment. The team I was working with shared what most people involved in hiring know to be true, i.e. the timeline for hiring is impacted by many factors, not all of which are controllable. Some of these factors include the time it takes to review applications, conduct phone screens, and set up in-person interviews. Add to that the schedules of hiring managers and team members who might travel, work remotely, or have jam-packed calendars, and it is easy to see how days become weeks and weeks can become months. Even the most interested candidate might get weary of waiting for the next stage of the process, and the strongest jobseekers usually have other offers coming in from employers who are able to move applicants through the hiring process more expeditiously.
A recent article in Associations Now Daily News titled "A Slow Hiring Process Turns Off Gen Z Recruits" includes some interesting data from a 2019 Yello Recruiting Study. According to Yello (a talent acquisition technology platform), 54 percent of Generation Z candidates (those born after 1995) and 51 percent of Millennial candidates (born between 1981 and 1995) wouldn't apply for a job if the process was too complicated or old-school. Even surveyed Gen X employees (born between 1965 and 1980) felt that outdated recruiting processes were a turnoff. Not surprisingly, the survey results confirm what most employers have already experienced, i.e. the current job market favors applicants over recruiters. Unfortunately, the report also claims that only a quarter of HR professionals are prepared for the changing expectations of younger workers.
Depending on your vantage point, this "state of affairs" regarding the labor market, hiring challenges and applicant expectations might serve as either a necessary wake-up call or simply another reminder to leaders, HR professionals, recruiters, and hiring managers. The times they aren't "a changing," they have already changed. And, for those employers who want to compete for the best candidates of any generation, time is of the essence.
Since hiring is rarely a one-person or even a one-department job, your organization may need to look more closely at your processes and see where you can improve efficiencies in order to move more quickly and make selection decisions before you risk losing your favorite candidate(s). When looking for places to shave time off the number of days it takes to fill positions, start by outlining the stages of the process. How many days or weeks does each step take and why? Then assess whether each step can be reassigned, streamlined or eliminated altogether. A thorough evaluation of your hiring process may very well involve shining a bright light on roadblocks that are impacting your ability to move candidates through the steps in a smooth and timely way. Having tough, candid discussions about where your internal systems are sluggish or broken should serve as a catalyst to positive changes in various aspects of your hiring process which in turn should result in better hires.
Recruiting top candidates is critical to every employer's success. And, it is just one of the topics that will be addressed in the Daily Herald's upcoming Corporate Culture Series discussion: Attracting and Retaining Great Employees, on Oct. 3. Register at https://events.dailyherald.com/corporate-culture-series/
• Mary Lynn Fayoumi, CAE, SPHR, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, is president & CEO of HR Source.