Time-to-Fill at Its Highest Since the Recession. Here's How to Deal.

August 15, 2014 at 9:04 AM by Kathleen de Lara

reduce time to hireRecruiters and hiring managers, are you ready? The time to fill open opportunities in the U.S. is about 23 days – the highest its been since 2009. 

The Dice-DFH duration index reports the duration of the average job vacancy. This year, businesses take approximately 22.5 days to fill a job – only about six days longer than the reported time-to-fill at the end of the recession.

To add, the U.S.  Department of Labor announced there were 4.7 million open job openings at the end of June, which is more than there have been since February 2001. Not to mention nearly three million people quit their jobs in June compared to the 2.4 million who quit the same time in 2013. 

The proposed reasons for the high number of vacancies vary: The disparity between the demand and supply for U.S. workers with STEM skills. The “perfect candidate hypothesis.” The increasing number of workers in the labor force, and those taking on more than one job. 

Where does this put recruiters? The hunt for talent is a constant, but candidate pools aren’t necessarily shrinking – the scope of desired qualifications and skills is rapidly expanding and the bar defining the qualified candidate may be the setback keeping companies from making their next hire.   

Check out these tips for managing your team’s time-to-fill and cost-of-hire. 

What perfect candidate?

Do some recruiter housekeeping and remind the team: The search for the perfect candidate is futile and costly. Some recruiters may expect their star candidate can wear many hats, but if the number of skills requirements extends to several company departments, that purple squirrel may be long gone or nowhere to be found. The old adage comes into play, quality over quantity – would you rather have a candidate who’s skilled in a number of areas, or merely passable in several? 

Employers are not looking to hire entry-level applicants right out of school. They want experienced candidates who can contribute immediately with no training or start-up time. That’s certainly understandable, but the only people who can do that are those who have done virtually the same job before, and that often requires a skill set that, in a rapidly changing world, may die out soon after it is perfected,” said Peter Cappelli, director of the human resources center at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. 

Keep in mind that finding a candidate with transferrable skills and the ability to quickly learn, apply, and adapt requires less time than finding a prospect who hits all the checkboxes on your list of desired qualifications.

Recruit in a constant cycle of sourcing, assessing, and short-listing. 

One hitch of the hiring process is a candidate getting stuck in one stage, be it sourcing, vetting, interviewing, following up, rejecting or offering, and onboarding. Keep talent out of hiring purgatory by tracking each individual candidate through each stage of the process. Applicant tracking systems like Greenhouse, Lever, and Jobvite can help recruiting teams organize and stay on top of talent moving through any part of the funnel. To successfully source and maintain engagement with a candidate, sourcers, recruiters, and hiring managers should be constantly viewing, tracking, updating, and collaborating on the status of each prospect.

Like what you're reading? There's more where that came from.

If you can learn it, you can train it.

Only 21 percent of employees received formal training from their employers in the past five years, according to a study by Accenture. Hiring candidates who don’t encompass the whole package but who have the experience and ability to learn can be trained to fulfill the role’s duties. Practicing the 80/20 hiring rule (hiring candidates who have 80% of the job skills required, leaving the remaining 20% to be filled by in-house training) greatly reduces time-to-hire and provides a periodic refresher for skills, processes, and programs that may be specific to the company.

If employees aren’t constantly learning something new or being challenged at their job, they’re not developing in their role or career. Another cost-effective alternative is recruiting qualified interns in their last years of school who can be trained and considered for hire after graduation. By the time the intern’s out of school, they’ll likely be more prepped for the entry-level role than a brand new hire. 

Revisit this: The group interview.

Reduce time spent on the interviewing process, and consider implementing a well-planned, methodical panel interview. While we may not have always been advocates for this style of interviewing, if the hiring time crunch is one of your company’s concerns, this technique can help address concerns with the candidate dropoff.

Lou Adler suggests these panel interviews can build a better connection between hiring managers and potential hires, and allows the team to collectively meet and qualify a candidate, eliminating the miscommunication that can occur during the handoff stage of the interview process. Although efficient, tracking interviewees’ impressions with scorecards can be a time sync. Candidate scorecards need not be eliminated, of course, but the team can cut the waiting time of filling out scorecards by allowing team members to interview a candidate at a single time, then talking over their verdict post-meeting. Collective interviews allow for quicker, collective discussions.

Want more resources on addressing the increasing time to fill opportunities? Employee referrals can provide another solution. Running a robust Boolean search also never hurt any recruiter. Need a refresher? boolean search guide