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Long Hiring Cycles and the Lag Behind Automation

Posted by Jeff Pelliccio on Jun 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In ICS insights

As the analysts among us know, open requisition to offer refers specifically to the time between the initial posting of a job description to hiring channels and the official job offer to a qualified candidate. Open req to offer is particularly useful when gauging hiring trends, HR efficiency, and the value of staffing agencies to help shorten problematic timelines.

Open Req to Offer Has Been Getting Longer For Years

According to research, between 2010 and 2015 the open req to offer positions increased by 62 percent for large corporations. That's a giant increase of 26 days to an average of 68 days. Smaller companies with less access to large pools of candidates may find the increases to be even worse.

In some cases, an increased open req to offer period is to be expected, such as periods of ultra-competitive hiring where pools of available talent are small, or periods of rapid new regulation that bring new hiring requirements. But job growth continues to advance at a reasonable pace, and few industries face a major crunch when it comes to availability.

In relatively calm conditions like these, a steadily growing open req to offer is a cause for concern. Those extra 26 days aren't just added time until a position can become productive again, they also represent growing costs to HR and more pressure on available hiring resources. With a long open req to offer, everyone loses – which is why this trend is particularly perplexing.

2017 is Expected to Be Even Worse

Dropping unemployment rates in high-activity areas and the general momentum of the trend is expected to continue in 2017: Don't expect open req to offer to decrease anytime soon. It's still heading on up for the foreseeable future. This creates a problem for hiring teams that are planning their budgets and working on future hiring models – when the process is becoming less efficient at the root, it's time to find the problem. This brings us to the next issue: automation software isn't acting like you might expect.

The Tools Aren't the Problem...Volume is

The confusing factor in this growing open req to offer trend is that hiring tools continue to improve, particularly when it comes to efficiency. Social media, staffing agencies, and automated data management are making the process faster than ever before, especially in the past several years where we've seen open req to offer continue to increase. Existing tools are doing everything they can to shorten the steps, while young professionals remain willing to move to find work. So why the negative change? Here are several reasons worth noting:

  • Low search radius: Companies aren't looking far enough to more mobile works.
  • Obsession with assessments: Companies, especially larger businesses, have added multiple tests and assessments to the hiring process, stringing it out further.
  • Hiring by committee: Hiring decisions have been moved away from single HR management calls and into lengthy, often fruitless internal debates.
  • Too many choices: All those hyper-efficient tools have paralyzed some HR teams, who spend too much time examining all available choices and too little time making a selection.
  • Reach exceeding grasp: Today's online tools have made some companies too eager to find "top talent" and as a result they let many qualified applicants slip through their fingers as they search for a perfect, often unattainable, fit.
  • Compensation woes: Companies slow to catch up are offering compensation packages and benefits that simply don't interest today's workers, leading to lengthy hiring times as most candidates head for greener pastures.

Hiring Processes Must Be Reworked

These issues leave us with a clear indication: It's time to rework the hiring process and cut down on time spent finding the right talent. Companies that continue to see growing open req to offer numbers should consider potential solutions to these cost-inflating issues.

  • Work with an outside agency to overcome inner barriers: Is there a particular process giving your team trouble due to internal challenges? Cut down on your time by handing part of the process over to experienced external staffing agencies. This is why ICS specializes in vetting candidates and guaranteeing the right skills – sometimes internal processes can grow too stagnant, and an outside firm can provide the best solution.
  • Solidify job descriptions: Job descriptions should not change once the hiring process has begun.
  • Set a deadline: Set a firm deadline based on best practices in your industry. As the deadline approaches, consider lowering expectations and skill requirements. If the deadline has passed and no candidate is available, switch to an internal training strategy.
  • Limit applicant pools: If numbers are a problem, set a limit on how many applicants will be received before moving to the next step. Create similar limits as candidates pass through the hiring process to move things along more quickly.
  • Match compensation for your location: Take a look at what your competitors are offering in their packages. Remember that direct compensation is more valuable to today's employees (compared to additional benefits), and adjust the offering as necessary.
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