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Mandi Tyrrell

Amanda Wright Recruitment

HR Director

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Twelve steps to shorten time-to-hire


Time-to-hire is an all-important human resource management metric. In 2011, Workforce Management Magazine defined time-to-hire as “a common measure used in human resources to evaluate the average amount of time  it takes to fill an open position.”

A short time-to-hire affords minimal business disruption whilst a lengthy time-to-hire may cause loss of morale among the current workforce and interrupt the running of your business. 

In business the old adage ‘time is money’ could never be more apparent than when it comes to the amount of time it takes to recruit new employees. Therefore HR departments are often under substantial pressure to reduce the time-to-hire metric. Furthermore, reducing time-to-hire normally reduces another human resources metric, namely cost-per-hire.

Studies indicate that in the United Kingdom time-to-hire has increased year-on-year since 2009. Demand for quality talent has increasingly outstripped its supply. According to the US Department of Labor, it takes employers around 23.5 days to hire a new employee. This figure fluctuates depending on the time of year and sector concerned e.g. retail typically has a much shorter time-to-hire than the IT sector.

A lengthy time-to-hire undoubtedly disrupts your business and may lead to understaffing issues. In turn this could damage morale and may even result in poor customer service and loss of revenue. A prolonged time-to-hire makes management can also make management seem disorganised and can damage relationships between staff, HR and management.   

However, rushing hiring decisions in a quest to shorten time-to-hire may equally hurt your business. Your haste may mean you hire an unsuitable candidate. This can, in turn, increase your rate of attrition. Sometimes it’s better to wait for the perfect hire to turn up.  However many roles in our modern economy are ‘high churn’ and so a quick hiring decision is essential for the smooth running of many businesses. 

How can we efficiently and sustainably shorten time-to-hire in 2015 and beyond?

Tip #1: Determine staffing needs early on

This requires you to figure out when you will need more staff. This is easier to do in some sectors compared to others. For instance, retailers know that extra staff are required over the busy Christmas period.  Determining staffing needs early on means you can handle upturns in demand in advance. Steps you can take to prepare include writing job specs and associated advertisements now rather than when you actually need to publish those advertisements. Last year’s sales figures are a good place to start to help determine future periods of high demand.

Tip #2: Make use of group and flexible interviewing

Group interviewing reduces the amount of time it requires to interview candidates. Group interviewing is ideally suited to certain industries such as retail, with groups typically made up of 3-8 people. Group interviewing is capable of reducing several days worth of one-to-one interviewing down to only a few hours.

Flexible interviewing may also decrease time-to-hire by increasing the number of high quality candidates you will see during the interviewing stage. Flexible interviewing refers to interviews taking place during the evening/weekends to fit in with candidates’ busy schedule. You should also consider phone interviewing for this same reason.

Tip #3: Try to reduce notice periods

Try to negotiate a shorter notice period with your new hire’s current employer. This may be tricky, particularly if their notice period is contractual. When their contract is silent on notice periods employers are only entitled to a statutory one week’s notice period. If this is not honoured the employer may legally withhold from the employee an entire week’s wage. Consider supplying new hires with tips to help them reduce their notice period with their outgoing employer.

Tip #4: Have a contingency plan

Ask ‘what if three key staff members left tomorrow?’ Plan how to deal with sudden and unexpected staff shortages by asking yourself ‘what if’ type questions. Make a note of what you could do to minimise the associated disruption to your business.

Tip #5: Consider working with virtual assistants

A virtual assistant is an employee who works off-site and typically in a developing country. The Philippines is an excellent source of quality virtual assistants. Virtual assistants are suited to certain industries e.g. marketing, IT and office-type work. Virtual assistants may be hired within hours rather than weeks. You will therefore substantially decrease time-to-hire and cost-per-hire when you choose to hire a virtual assistant.

Tip #6: Provide management with interview training

Provide professional interviewing training to management and other staff members who are expected to conduct interviews. Many managers put off interviewing due to nerves and/or their busy schedule. Providing them with interviewing training will give them the required confidence to conduct interviews rather than putting them off for another day. This will in turn decrease time-to-hire.

Tip #7: Recruit internally

Recruiting internally eliminates the need to advertise the required position and thus also reduces time-to-hire.

Tip #8: Set up a staff referral system

Reward staff financially for referring new employees. Like tip #7 above, this step bypasses the otherwise lengthy job advertisement process. Employees are only likely to refer high quality candidates since their reputation is on the line when a referral is made.

Tip #9:  Write a benefit-laden job description

Write job ads with a clear job title and load the body of the advert with employee benefits. Also include salary details. These steps will bump your job advertisement’s response rate. Since you will now have more candidates to choose from you will in all likelihood decrease the amount of time it takes to find a desirable candidate.

Tip #10: Make use of social channels when recruiting

Consider making use of social media channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter when recruiting new staff. Also make use of specialist social networks such as GitHub. This helps you leverage your brand name in your recruitment efforts and find quality candidates who would otherwise not check job advertisement boards.

Tip #11:  Use application tracking software

Application tracking software affords bells and whistles such as keyword filtering. This speeds up the initial sifting process and even gives you the ability to automate the screening process. You are no longer required to manually sift through thousands of CVs.

Tip #12: Make good use of external recruitment professions

Using an external recruitment professional may increase the cost-per-hire. However this cost is more than offset by an increase in the quality of candidate you retain plus a corresponding decrease in time-to-hire.

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Mandi Tyrrell

HR Director

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