Time is of the Essence in Winning the Talent Game

In any job market – but perhaps never more than in today’s workforce — top talent can come and go in the blink of an eye.

Based on the pace needed to secure these top performers, it could be assumed that the majority of companies are nimble and as poised as possible to react quickly and efficiently in order to ensure they get available top talent, but this isn’t always the case.

Some organizations believe that a longer hiring process is a good thing because it ensures that a company has adequate time to compare candidates and be absolutely sure that they are hiring the very best person for the position. While there is some merit to this idea, it overlooks an important fact: hiring must be equally viewed as both a people decision and a business decision.

Top talent – part of the core “DNA”

Quite simply, hiring happens when a person is needed to fill a business requirement or gap. When hiring an employee makes sense for the business, then it will happen. If not, then it won’t – a concept clearly illustrated by the job market of 2009.

When examining the make-up of a company, it’s not only important to examine all the components that make a business successful and profitable, but to also understand how top talent is an integral part of that equation— a core part of its “DNA.”

Today, as we watch the economy slowly teetering toward recovery, those employees who were once reluctant to leave a job for fear of losing security are now more likely to make a move. Furthermore, that pool of highly-qualified talent that was rendered jobless by the recession is more eager than ever to get back into the workforce now that opportunities are opening up—particularly in sectors like healthcare and professional services where hiring is taking place.

If one looks at recent data issued by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a significant difference in unemployment rates between those without a high school diploma (14.3 percent) and those with a bachelor’s degree or higher (4.3 percent). For those with a higher education, they face substantially lower unemployment than the national average of 9.1 percent. As a result, there is a premium for these candidates and a need for companies to move quickly to ensure that the best of the best are working for them.

What all of this means is that just as there is a business reason to fill a position, there is a business benefit to filling that position quickly, too. A drawn-out hiring and onboarding process costs time and money that quite simply is too valuable to waste, particularly in today’s tight economy. For every day a company has not filled a position that solves a business problem, that company is losing money. And every minute spent on hiring employees obviously costs money that could be better spent in other areas.

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3 ways to speed up the hiring process

Here are some ways to speed up the hiring process:

  • Be more selective. In my experience, I’ve seen that the most time-consuming part of the interview process is often the first-round interviews. Though many companies have a fairly rigorous screening process, there are still too many that bring in anywhere from five to 10 people for an interview when they may only be impressed by three to five of them from their resumes. By tightening up the way you screen potential candidates, and trusting your gut in the resume review round, you’ll eliminate hours of potentially wasted time.
  • Think ahead. Many companies only ask for references once they’ve decided to offer a position to an employee. And even if it only takes a day or two for the prospect to get the references to you and then another day or two to get in touch with those references, that can add up to a week to a process, unnecessarily costing your company money in lost wages and administrative time. Make references a requirement from the get-go for anyone who makes it to the first round of interviews and check them for those who make it to the second round before you think about extending an offer.
  • Ask for help. Whether you’re a smaller company with a limited HR staff or a large international organization working on hiring multiple positions, the reason for a delayed hiring process is probably largely out of your control. Bringing in a staffing company as a consultant to help with the hiring and onboarding process will cost money, but the time and administrative costs that you save, not to mention the quality screening and hiring process you should expect to receive from that consultant, will make it well worth it.

Perhaps the biggest benefit to speeding up the hiring and onboarding process is that it gives HR departments the time they need to pay attention to the initiatives and activities that will help retain employees, rather than spending a majority of time on the recruitment process.

It’s sometimes easy to forget the retention and talent management part of the HR function because recruiting can take up so much time. As the economy improves, it will be imperative for companies to keep their “eye on the prize” of ensuring top talent is satisfied and engaged, so as not to risk losing those valuable people.

It’s often said that the most valuable asset any company has is its people — and I couldn’t agree more. Getting those high performing people hired and ready to work as soon as possible is an important contributor to any company’s success — and a key to winning the talent game.

Joyce Russell is Executive Vice President and President of Adecco Staffing U.S., a subsidiary of Adecco Group North America and part of the world's largest recruitment and workforce solutions provider. Joyce Russell runs the company's general staffing business, of which it is the market leader across the U.S. A passionate and strategic leader, Russell has been with Adecco for 22 years and has firmly established herself as the highest ranking woman in the staffing industry.


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