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How to reduce time-to-hire without sacrificing quality

AUTHOR: Riia O'Donnell | PUBLISHED: April 12, 2018

Top image credit: Full Rights Image / Depositphotos

In this tight labor market, the pressure is on for HR to hire quickly and effectively.

A low "time-to-hire" has always been a priority, but in today’s competitive environment, it may be an imperative. With unemployment at historic lows, and skills gaps in almost every industry, competition for talent is fierce. The faster you can get someone on the payroll, the better.

In a recent survey, Spark Hire found that the most common time from date of resume receipt to offer letter is seven to 14 days. Others reported longer timeframes, but respondents in all ranges — even those with a time-to-hire of less than a week — said they wanted to improve.

But while hiring quickly may be important, it can't be done at the expense of hiring effectively. A bad hire could restart the process or worse, so it's crucial to look for ways to reduce hiring time without sacrificing quality.

The candidate's point of view

Employers want to reduce time-to-hire for various reasons, not the least of which is the candidate experience. "For candidates, cutting down the time to hire reduces the stressors of unemployment, decreases job search-related anxiety, and gives a positive impression of the organization," according to Josh Tolan, CEO of Spark Hire.

A responsive hiring process “creates and sustains a candidate’s excitement for the company and position," he said. "It also reflects well on the organization's desire to bring the candidate onboard as well as its investment in the culture and employees."

There’s a direct correlation between time to hire and candidate experience, according to Kurt Heikkinen, president and CEO at Montage. “Candidates expect a high tech, high touch experience,” he told HR Dive. “They want their job seeking experience to match their own consumer experiences — fast, transparent and easy.” A hiring process that is too lengthy can drive a great candidate directly to your competition’s door.

It’s also important to personalize, says Tolan: “Generic, impersonal recruitment initiatives leave candidates feeling as though your organization only cares about filling a vacancy, rather than what the candidate’s unique skills can bring to the table.”

Regular and transparent communication is key, too, according to Keith Johnstone, marketing manager at Peak Sales Recruiting. "Top performers want to work for companies with efficient practices," he said. HR should outline to candidates the number of steps involved in their hiring process, and set clear expectations for the timelines."A lack of clarity on the specifics like the number of interviews or the expected hiring date can leave candidates frustrated," he said.

Making the most of your data and tools

Knowing your average time-to-hire is the stepping-off point. While it may vary by department and position, determine a baseline of what it takes to hire for specific categories of jobs. Looking through that data, you may find steps along the way where the process hits a snag — or worse, comes to a halt.

You'll also need to take stock of your tools. Is your recruiting process working? Or is your tech creating more problems that it solves?

If you're spending too much time screening, it might be time to consider the other available tech. If you're spending too much time playing phone tag trying to schedule interviews, mobile scheduling apps may be able to help. "Removing time-consuming tasks with technology not only speeds time-to-hire," says Heikkinen, "but it also improves candidate experience and can drive cost savings."

“By utilizing technology such as on-demand interviewing with automated scheduling,” he says, “recruiters can avoid spending time on mundane administrative tasks and build better relationships with more qualified candidates.”

​Outsourcing HR functions like background checks can save time, too. But don’t be tempted to skip this important step altogether; resume exaggerations continue to plague employers, and many report that they've made a bad hire in the past — both a time-consuming and an expensive mistake.

It's also worth taking the time to review your job descriptions and postings. For many employers, the skills and experience noted in those documents even a few years ago are no longer relevant. By taking time to talk with managers who are not converting candidates into hires, you may be able to find out what they really need, and tailor job postings in response, bringing in better-matched candidates.

Making changes

Once you've established areas to improve, it's time to consider solutions — both tech and non-tech.

Tolan specifically recommends adding video interviews to your process. “This is seen both in inbound recruiting, via one-way interviews, and outbound recruiting, through tools like video messages," he said. But, as with all things recruiting, employers who do so must keep an eye on the candidate experience.

Even newer to recruiters' toolboxes is text recruitment, promising to speed the process from days to hours as talent more quickly responds to messaging. Chatbots have entered this space, too, Heikkinen noted, using natural language processing to vet candidates’ baseline skills and schedule interviews.

And Johnstone recommends leveraging employee referral programs to reduce time-to-hire. Tapping into employees' social networks can bring great returns, he said.

While examining each step in your hiring process can seem like a chore, the investment is likely to pay off in the future, experts say. The opportunity to replace drudge work with tech, improve your candidate experience and, ultimately, reduce your time-to-hire, can make the task well worth the effort.

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