Since the beginning of 2008, the employment market has seen drastic shifts in the amount of talent, the number of jobs available, and the speed of the hiring process. In the ten years since, the talent available has fluctuated, and the way that hiring teams find that talent has been molded by the increase in connectivity. Today, companies can no longer afford to have a laid-back hiring process. There is increased pressure on hiring managers and recruiting teams, not only because of the decrease in our local and national unemployment rates, but also due to the shortage of specific labor skills and a higher demand for rapid communication.
Stepping Back to 2008
Let’s take a step back to compare the two decades. In 2008, the United States found itself at the beginning of a national recession that had global consequences. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national unemployment rate in January of 2008 was at 5.0%, rising to 7.3% by the end of the year, only to climb further to a high of almost 10% by December of 2009.
Employers that could afford to hire during the Great Recession quickly found it was their market. With an approved headcount, hiring managers were able to look over a sea of qualified candidates who needed a job yesterday. Due to that overwhelming number of candidates, responding to so many became a lower priority. A few upset candidates were not an issue – if they weren’t interested, the recruiting team could easily find someone who was. Thus, the trend of ghosting began, simply from the other side of the table.
Additionally, should a candidate have a poor experience and rant about it on social media, the weight of said rant and its ability to go “viral” wasn’t a threat. Online reviews were not as impactful or relied upon by local and national consumers. A bad job was better than no job, and a company’s reputation wasn’t posted online for all to see, as it is today.
Here and Now
Fast forward to 2018, the economy and hiring practices have shifted drastically. Unemployment is at a decade low – nationally 3.9% (4% in Cincinnati). As a result, the potential candidate pool has decreased, making the process of finding that “perfect fit” more difficult.
The length of the recruiting process has grown while the pool of available candidates has shrunk. The hiring timeline has increased by 10 days from 2010 alone, according to the Society for Human Resources. Despite the advances in automation with applicant tracking systems, the process is taking longer, partially due to an increase in background checks and thorough assessments to determine if a candidate is the right fit, which requires a more in-depth screening process. Even many positions are requiring candidates to go through multiple interviews with multiple levels of an organization, only adding more time to the recruiting process.
And that’s not all. In an even more connected and viral society, each move a company may make is further publicized and analyzed by potential candidates. A company’s online presence has become a huge influencer in candidate decision-making. With the rise of Glassdoor and other online forums, it’s easier for candidates to find reviews and posts on what it’s like on the inside – good and bad. A candidate is able to view a company on more platforms than ever before, both as a consumer and as a potential candidate. Lack of online presence or professional response has been proven to quickly chase away that potential candidate or client.
With these changes and a rapidly-evolving environment, how can hiring managers and their teams ensure that they are finding the best candidate while providing a candidate experience that only results in positive online reviews? Here are a few key factors you might consider:
- Companies need to have accessible and easy application processes. The vast majority of applications are filled out online with mobile devices, meaning the days of searching for jobs in the newspaper are long gone. A candidate can apply to dozens of jobs per day, thanks to sites like ZipRecruiter, Indeed, and LinkedIn. It is imperative for companies to have an online presence to compete in a hyper-lean labor market. If you have an excessive number of steps in your process, you can assume candidates will become frustrated and quickly lose interest. For example, uploading a resume, filling out duplicate information on a form, or having to create multiple logins for multiple sites all before speaking with a recruiter can detract from the process. This will deter many candidates from completing what a hiring manager may consider as a necessary step.
- Job ads need to detail crucial potential deal-breakers such as shift time, travel, and expectations. For the sake of brevity, companies often omit certain aspects of their working environment that would disqualify certain candidates. Companies need to embrace their openings’ challenges in order to avoid wasting valuable time pursuing candidates without the necessary skills or candidates who would never accept the position due to travel, shift time, or additional reasons. Salary expectations are not needed in the job ad, but it is a conversation to have early on in the process. The number doesn’t need to be set in stone, a range works just fine, but this will prevent wasting the recruiter’s and the candidate’s precious time.
- Hiring managers must make the hiring process a legitimate priority. It’s a common horror story: you found the perfect candidate, but that candidate was no longer available once the hiring manager wanted to interview them weeks later. It is crucial that hiring managers take the time to review their potential candidates in a timely and prompt manner, especially in extremely tight markets like IT, healthcare, and skilled trades.
- Keep candidates in the loop. Once a hiring manager has determined which candidates are viable, next steps should be presented to the selected candidates, and an email should be sent to the declined candidates. Don’t leave your candidates hanging, especially if you’re not interested in moving forward with them.
- Keep the interview process positive and lean. The interview process is like dating: you want to feel welcomed, engaged, and to know that the other party is interested. The process should feel less like a marathon, and more like a 5K. Bogging down the process with numerous interviews, personality tests, and aptitude tests can extend the process by weeks. When beginning your interviewing process, clearly establish your steps, make them expedient while gathering the information you need, and move quickly.
- The onboarding process needs to be efficient and overwhelmingly positive. Once the hiring manager has made their decision, a verbal offer should be extended quickly with an expectation of a timeline. Next, HR needs to quickly deliver the written offer while scheduling any drug tests or background checks. The onboarding process should make the new employee feel like they are making the right choice for themselves, their family, and their career. Setting reasonable expectations and goals for their first few months on the job will encourage them to further buy into the company and its mission. Mentors (other than direct supervisors) are great ways to help new employees gain insight into the company culture.
It’s clear how quickly the times have changed, and how the recruiting arena has flipped to favor the job-seeker. If you’re a recruiter or a hiring manager, have no fear. The tips and tricks above can help you to reduce the far-too-common hiring pains that come along with a market such as the one we’re in, and will allow you to find that ideal candidate while creating a positive experience.
Sammie Osborne and Mike Coltrane are Talent Acquisition Consultants at strategic HR inc. (https://strategicHRinc.com). If you have any questions or would like to share your comments, contact them at Sammie@strategicHRinc.com or Mike@strategicHRinc.com.