It’s no secret that candidates have the upper hand in today’s competitive labor market, as millions of workers leave their jobs or exit the workforce. The numbers are staggering: 25 percent of people quit their jobs in 2021; 65 percent are currently seeking out new opportunities.
With so many people on the move, many organizations are revamping their hiring process to improve their chances of success. Optimizing and accelerating screening, interviews, and feedback helps organizations to engage skilled workers quickly, lest they lose top talent to competitors.
Indeed, a recent LinkedIn Workforce Report shows candidates are here today, gone tomorrow. Median time to hire varies with industry, but is typically fastest for administrative jobs (33 days) and customer service (34 days). Hiring typically takes longer for precision-focused positions such as engineering (49 days) or opportunities that involve multiple stakeholders, such as business development (46 days).
Within the world of healthcare, ETS Recruit reports candidates are disengaging from inefficient hiring processes. Partnering with their clients, MRINetwork firm ETS, scrutinizes every step of the process to see where they can build in better efficiencies for better results.
Losing Talent to Lengthy Timelines
Recruiters live out the fast-paced reality of the market every day. But until you experience it, it can be difficult to understand just how competitive things really are.
In any market, first-choice candidates always tend to disappear quickly, as they have multiple options to pursue. In today’s candidate-driven environment, however, even second- and third-choice candidates are being recruited at a record pace. Dragging out approvals and feedback cycles, hiring managers inadvertently chip away at the quality of the available talent pool. Slow hiring slows everything down, stretching out timelines, frustrating candidates, and creating expensive personnel gaps and business delays.
Morgan Pace, Vice President and Dental Recruitment Consultant at ETS Dental, has seen organizations lose top talent after becoming distracted by other business priorities. One busy employer waited two weeks before making contact with a promising candidate. By then, it was too late. “At that point, the candidate was already moving forward with other options,” Pace says. “The candidate told me that they probably wouldn’t have interviewed anyway, after having to wait so long to hear from the client.”
These days, employers need to act quickly and decisively, particularly when candidates are currently employed or need to relocate. The cost of leaving positions unfilled can be crippling in healthcare businesses such as dentistry, where procedures can’t be performed without a skilled practitioner.
Pace explains: “Time to start averages four months, and can be much longer in secondary or rural markets that almost always require relocation. Dentists are in high demand, so time off for interviewing often requires several weeks notice. Most general dentists have to serve 60 to 90 days notice before resigning, to finish treating patients.”
No employer wants to devote months to a candidate search, only to start the search all over again. But that’s exactly what can happen given indecision or unnecessary delays. Nola Pearce, Vice President, Material Science Engineering Recruitment at ETS Tech-Ops, says it comes down to numbers. “For every successful hire, it takes an average of 10 candidates presented: six chosen for a first interview, three chosen for a second interview, and a 50/50 or better chance that the chosen candidate will accept the offer,” she says. “The recruitment timeline can be condensed when a hiring manager will work in parallel, interviewing multiple candidates initially and providing thorough feedback of where we hit or missed the mark. Every time an interview schedule is dragged out one week, two weeks, three weeks, the chance of success with the current candidate pool decreases. Human beings have a habit of taking a different path if they don’t receive timely feedback. Should they decide they’re no longer interested, the search has to start all over again.”
Creating a Better Candidate Experience for Better Results
Pearce and Pace offer several recommendations to keep things moving and keep sought-after candidates engaged:
1. Go beyond the job description and resume: Candidates today want to fully understand the job opportunity and company. Take the time to speak to items that cannot be effectively communicated in the job description goes far. For example,
- Why is the role open?
- What has or hasn’t worked in the past?
- What career path opportunities would a successful candidate have within the company?
- How does success in the role impact the success of the organization?
“A perfect job description-to-resume match is a very, very small indicator of success,” Pearce notes. “We spend significant time with our candidates to gain a thorough understanding of key drivers including Challenge, Lifestyle/Location, Advancement Opportunity, Compensation, Company Culture, and Stability of the Company. We take the time to learn each candidate’s priorities, with the goal of assuring the opportunity is a solid career and life fit. This streamlines the process significantly, improving the offer acceptance statistic from 50/50 to upwards of 90 percent.”
2. Level expectations: Expecting a candidate to stay engaged over several weeks is no longer realistic. It only invites competition from other offices that approach hiring with a stronger sense of urgency. Pearce says it’s important to be realistic when it comes to candidate and employer mismatches in areas such as:
- Salary level versus responsibility
- Salary level versus cost of living in the area
- Title versus level of responsibility
- Years of experience versus level of responsibility
- Education versus level of responsibility
- Assessment of comparable industry experience
- Onsite versus hybrid/remote
3. Remove barriers: Cut out unnecessary interviews or meetings, and act decisively when considering candidates. Pace recommends making income expectations and compensation methods clear early on. Waiting to see who else might be out there is a mistake.
4. Act with a sense of urgency: Pace says candidates expect phone interviews within two to three days after expressing interest, and in-person meetings within a week, if local. Companies that move quickly to make first contact and schedule follow-up meetings reap the benefits relative to their competition.
5. Make a good first impression: In the initial stages of the company/candidate relationship, the recruitment process is the only business process that candidates have visibility into, Pearce notes. If your recruitment process is inefficient, it reflects poorly on your company, which could affect the candidate’s decision to accept or not accept an offer.
What are the gaps in your hiring process? Can you dive deeper at the get-go, or knock down barriers to keep more people engaged? Consider the reality of the market today and candidate expectations as you examine and revitalize your approach.
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