Improving Time-to-fill in a Tight Labor Market: Four Ways You Can Speed the Hiring Process

April 17, 2019 | SkillSurvey | HCI
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When it comes to measuring the health of your hiring practices, time-to-fill is probably the single most important indicator. A good time-to-fill metric tells you that your recruiters are on the ball and your systems and processes are working well.

Of course, in periods of low unemployment (like what we’re seeing today), your time-to-fill metric can take a hit. That has real consequences for your organization. Slow hiring means you’re likely losing your best candidates to the competition. Your brand is damaged as the candidate experience erodes. Productivity drops when positions remain open for too long. And, let’s face it, the longer it takes to hire for a position, the more expensive that hire will be.

Speeding the hiring process in record-breaking low unemployment is a challenge. You can ride it out and accept lower time-to-fill numbers (and the consequences for your organization) or you can do everything you can to stay competitive--in good times and bad.

Here are four ways to get started:

Find the roadblocks in your hiring process

As much as we’d like to believe, as HR professionals, that we’ve got this people thing nailed, no hiring process is perfect. Are your job descriptions compelling enough? Do your interview and assessment processes help you understand a candidate’s capabilities and potential? Are your compensation and benefits competitive?

Take the time to review your processes with a critical eye, particularly those that you tend to think are pro forma. Sloppy, cut-and-paste job descriptions that each begin with a canned description of your organization aren’t doing the work of catching the eye of a standout candidate. Candidate assessments should be data-driven--and there’s no better way to get started than by implementing a reference checking solution that can measure a candidate’s job-specific skills. And making your case for a more robust compensation and benefits package will likely get a more sympathetic hearing from the executive suite during times of low unemployment--so seize the day!

Use technology to stay engaged

We’re hearing a lot these days about employers being “ghosted” by their employees – employees who simply leave their jobs without notice. We’re told ghosting is a symptom of a tight job market, but we think it’s a symptom of something that’s actually much more under our control--and that’s how we engage and communicate with our workforce. Good communication begins well before the job interview and includes how quickly you respond to a job application, how consistently you engage job candidates during the process, and how professionally you respond to a candidate’s (or an employee’s) legitimate concerns and questions. Technology can help automatically trigger appropriate responses. Make sure that the content of your automatic responses isn’t robotic. Whether you’re notifying a candidate that a reference still needs to be tracked down or that you’re keeping his resume on file for future openings, make it real. Technology can speed the process. But it can’t humanize it. Only you can.

Hire for soft skills, train for hard skills

In a tight job market, you’re not always going to find a candidate who meets every single job requirement. If you keep looking for the purple unicorn, you’re likely to miss the candidates who would really be a great fit for your organization--with a little training and mentoring. That will require digging deep with your hiring managers to understand what can--and can’t--be learned on the job. Once you’ve identified that, you’ll also need to understand what soft skills predict success for that particular job. By taking a more holistic approach to hiring, you can find the right candidate for even the most tough-to-fill positions.

Build your pipeline

The best way to speed hiring, of course, is to be able to tap potential job candidates exactly when you need them. To do that you need to cultivate an active, up-to-date candidate pipeline. Most HR executives agree that referrals are an effective job sourcing strategy, delivering high quality employees while reducing time-to-hire. A good pipeline isn’t just a database of resumes, it’s a recruitment strategy that requires careful curation and cultivation. By all means, keep those “almost-hired” contact details handy, but put a process in place to source additional candidates: referrals and references top the list since you can match their skills and capabilities with relevant job openings.