Recruit Ahead of Need and Eliminate Hiring Delays

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer March 7, 2016

Scott Wintrip
On-demand hiring requires three steps, says Scott Wintrip:

  1. Knowing which recruitment methods work best for your organization.
  2. Proactively recruiting before you need someone.
  3. Maintaining a constant flow within your talent pipeline.

Wintrip is the founder of the Wintrip Consulting Group, a global staffing consultancy in St. Petersburg, Fla., and an expert specializing on eliminating hiring delays. He spoke with SHRM Online about the causes behind inefficient hiring, how employers can improve time-to-fill and how to recruit for positions before there are even openings.  

The trend toward a drawn-out hiring cycle—the average time-to-fill in the U.S. was 26.6 workdays in December 2015—may be a holdover from the lean hiring days of the Great Recession or it could be that employers are using more screening methods such as team interviews, IQ assessments and drug tests.

But hiring delays frustrate candidates and negatively impact business, causing lost revenue and productivity, sometimes dissuading top talent from continuing the process and hurting the company’s reputation.

Here is Wintrip’s advice on how to speed up your hiring process.

SHRM Online: What are the main reasons for delays in the hiring process?

Wintrip: Three main obstacles get in employers’ way. First, they are tapping into a pool of top talent that is too small. Many companies have a weak pull on quality candidates. This attractive force, called candidate gravity, is generated by the methods companies use to draw in prospective hires. For example, a large banking institution was experiencing an average time-to-fill of more than 60 working days. The root cause was poor candidate gravity; while using more than a dozen methods to recruit talent, only three of these were being used effectively.

Companies may also be employing interview methods that are inaccurate and labor-intensive. The interview portion often takes two, three or even four rounds. A frequent centerpiece of these is behavioral interviews. Behavioral interviewing has helped leaders make strides in improving the accuracy of hiring. Unfortunately, the longer this labor-intensive practice has been in place, the more that candidates have learned how to navigate around this method.

Lastly, employers are failing to build and maintain a pipeline of prospective employees. It’s no mystery that jobs will become open, yet most companies engage in reactive recruiting and hiring. More than 90 percent of the companies I’ve spoken with across the globe were engaging primarily in reactive recruiting.

SHRM Online: How can employers improve their time-to-fill?

Wintrip: Instead of perpetuating a process that’s reactive, leaders need to instill a process that allows them to identify, cultivate and draw upon a group of the very best candidates to fill jobs the instant they open. The rise of a faster, on-demand economy is permeating commerce and culture. Regardless of what’s being delivered, the underlying on-demand process remains the same. It is this process, when applied to hiring, which allows companies to create a fast and accurate method for making high-quality hires. When a more substantial pool of talent is combined with better selection, interviewing and quality checks, these companies can build a talent inventory—people who are ready to go the moment they are needed.

For instance, a European outsourcing company needed a more scalable workforce to meet customer demand. That goal focused them to incorporate better assessment methods for identifying prospective hires before they were needed. They streamlined the entire hiring process, eliminating wasted effort and automating aspects with technology. In rolling this out, they started with one geographic area and expanded to others. As the initiative continues, they remain committed to continually tweaking the process to keep driving efficiency.

SHRM Online: What’s the importance of recruiting ahead and acquiring talent before it’s needed?

Wintrip: One of my favorite examples of the importance of recruiting ahead comes from a comment made by an HR executive I advise. She said that every time a job became open in their company, their talent acquisition team seemed only able to find candidates that were the best of the unhappy, unemployed and underqualified.

By creating and maintaining a strong flow of high-quality candidates before they are needed, recruiters are able to access more top talent who became much better hires. Recruiting ahead not only improves the quality of talent, it also takes less time than reacting to a job opening. In the previous example, time-to-fill was cut in half in a matter of months, with effort-per-hire reduced by more than 70 percent.

The process involves three phases:

  • Enriching the flow of candidates.
  • Harnessing this flow by identifying the most talented people.
  • Sustaining the flow, creating a pool of ready-to-hire, prospective employees.

One of the manufacturing companies I advise had struggled in finding the highly skilled talent they needed for locations across the globe. Filling open jobs took weeks, even months. In some cases, jobs remained unfilled, creating greater workloads for everyone else and higher overtime costs for the company. Enriching the flow of candidates, by improving their candidate gravity, gave them more people to choose from. Today, they sustain this flow by practicing the core mantra of fast and accurate hiring—always interviewing; occasionally hiring.

SHRM Online: How can employers maintain a constant flow of talent in their pipeline?

Wintrip: Every company has a measurable pull on potential employees. By assessing this attractive force, leaders can improve their ability to draw in top talent. Methods include a wide range of tactics, from campus recruiting and mining social media to hosting events and advertising. Not all recruiting methods are equal, which is why using enough of the right ones is essential for instantaneous hiring. Some methods, such as learning about candidates through referrals, stand the test of time yet are too often poorly used. Others, like poorly designed job postings, provide scores of candidates from job boards but slow hiring down to a crawl and can be more trouble than they’re worth.

Leaders should review how many recruiting methods their company is using to acquire candidates, employing the four “C’s” to evaluate effectiveness: Is each method being used correctly, consistently, creatively and to full capacity?

Here are other questions to ask yourself:

  • What is the difference between the intended results and actual outcomes?
  • When methods are used inconsistently, what appears to be causing or contributing to this problem? How is leadership, or lack of it, a factor?
  • Under what circumstances has return on investment been exceptionally high?

In measuring the pull of companies around the world, those with eight or more fully functioning recruitment methods consistently have a ta​lent surplus, allowing them to quickly and efficiently hire better talent.

Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

Follow him @SHRMRoy

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