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How to Reduce Time to Hire: 10 Tips to Quickly Close Job Candidates

Quick look: One of the most critical (and stressful) parts of recruiting is closing job candidates before your competitors can scoop them up. Explore the growing importance for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to quickly close candidates and how to speed up the hiring process, from crafting clear job advertisements to promptly following up.

Securing the right candidates continues to be challenging due to current labor market conditions. According to The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of November 2023, there were 8.8 million job openings and 3.4% unemployed people, and for every job opening, there was just 7/10 of an unemployed person.

Adding to the pressure, it can take several weeks to fill a role (and even longer for harder-to-fill positions). According to the Society for Human Resource Management’s (SHRM) new benchmark research, the average cost of recruitment is nearly $4,700 per hire. And for the positions that are more difficult to fill, like executive and management roles, average costs can soar up to $28,329.

Other perils are associated with unfilled roles, like the hidden costs of recruiting and the effects these perpetually open positions may have on current staff, like additional responsibilities and potential burnout.

Measuring average time to hire/time to fill

The above issues collectively demonstrate the value of securing top talent as quickly as possible and the importance of measuring and tracking your organization’s average time to hire (or time to fill).

This human resources (HR) metric focuses on the number of days it takes from a job being posted to when an offer is accepted. The following formula calculates average time to hire/time to fill:

Average Time to Fill = Total Number of Days of Open Jobs / Total Number of Open Jobs

The importance of a fast hiring process for SMBs

There are more job openings than people looking for work, which has created a candidate-driven world. The latest Glassdoor report on job offer rejections found that over 17% of job offers are rejected in the U.S. This is partly because potential candidates have more choices than ever and ask for more from employers, like flexible shifts, career development opportunities, personalized benefits, and more.

Employers who do not meet these demands can experience candidates not showing up for scheduled interviews or ignoring recruiters after interviews, job offers, or initial start dates. This can be especially problematic when employers try to fill specialized roles with a smaller candidate pool.

It’s especially vital for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to hire quickly. Larger competitors may have more “curb appeal,” but SMBs can stand out with a smooth hiring process.

According to PwC:

  • 49% of job candidates declined an offer due to a bad recruiting experience.
  • 72% of job seekers say they must understand the work culture before accepting an offer.
  • C-suite candidates want the following to occur during the recruiting process: interview coaching (73%), immediate feedback from the recruiter after an interview (67%), and for the recruiter to cater to their personal communication preferences (69%).
  • 56% of job seekers say they’d discourage others from applying to an organization they had a bad recruiting experience with.

10 ways to reduce time to hire

Ideally, candidates immediately accept an offer. But that doesn’t always happen, and companies must examine and hone their hiring process to reduce the time it takes a candidate to say “yes.” The following tips can help your organization speed up the hiring process and make a positive impression on talent.

1. Define hiring timelines

Nothing is more frustrating to a job seeker than not knowing what to expect. Recruiters should clearly define and adhere to a hiring timeline that includes:

  • When to expect feedback from interviews
  • A timetable for any screenings
  • When an offer will be made
  • Start date

This helps applicants understand when they can expect to hear back and shows that your business respects them, which can tip a person towards your company over another they may have been considering.

2. Clearly articulate the offer 

Recruiters should ensure the candidate understands the offer’s terms and conditions. Doing so can alleviate any stress they may have about potentially unknown factors and can prevent them from making assumptions about the business or role.

Typically, the terms include job duties, work hours and location, the name of the supervisor, dress code, and time off policies. They also should detail employee benefits, life insurance, and retirement plans. In contrast, conditions generally include passing drug and background screenings.

3. Highlight unique opportunities 

Some potential candidates may be hesitant to sign on because they aren’t fully aware of the unique benefits your organization and the job provides, like:

Showcasing these factors can help them envision a fulfilling career with your business and increase the likelihood that they will accept the offer. 

4.  Address concerns

At the time of closing, the potential candidate could express a concern or an objection to any of the terms and conditions of the job, like working hours, health insurance plans, and more.

Recruiters should listen carefully to what the candidate says and address their reservations about accepting the offer. Provide additional information if needed, clarify misunderstandings, and offer suitable solutions or compromises where possible.

5. Personalize the conversation 

Everyone is different. Customize your approach to each candidate by considering their motivations, goals, and interests. 

Discuss how the role aligns with their aspirations and how they can meaningfully contribute to the organization. Building a personal connection can help persuade candidates to accept the offer. 

6. Create a sense of urgency 

If you do not let candidates know the importance of them starting soon, they may feel they have a lengthy amount of time to decide. Encourage candidates to make a decision within a reasonable timeframe.

To escalate the process, let them know the value the job can provide them and that they’re a desired candidate for the role and a good fit with the organization. Carefully convey that another candidate may fill the position if they delay their response.

7. Be enthusiastic

Nothing excites a candidate more about a role than showing genuine enthusiasm for them and their contribution to the team! Make it clear that you and the business are excited about having them on board by:

  • Sending welcoming emails
  • Detailing why they are a great fit
  • Sharing what you’re hopeful for

Emotion can be contagious and can help persuade candidates to accept the offer. 

8. Provide additional incentives

Some talent may need more to sway them to acceptance. Recruiters should consider what makes the candidate unique and identify if the business can provide additional incentives. These could include signing bonuses, flexible work arrangements, and more. Sometimes, offering an additional perk your competitors don’t can seal the deal.

9. Facilitate a smooth transition 

Once the offer is accepted, it’s time for onboarding. If this is turbulent for the new hire, they may seek other opportunities that have a more straightforward process.

Provide new hires with all the necessary information and support to ensure a seamless onboarding process. Regularly communicate with them during the transition period to address potential concerns or questions.  

10. Follow up promptly 

After extending the offer, follow up with the candidate in a timely manner. SHRM recommends that recruiters check in often with candidates to confirm they’re still comfortable and excited about the role. This follow-up also enables recruiters to answer any new questions the potential employee may have at this stage. Maintaining an open line of communication can reinforce your commitment to their success.

How to hire faster with a PEO partner

Quickly closing job candidates requires active engagement, effective communication, and personalized attention. Demonstrating the value of the opportunity and addressing their concerns can increase the chances of securing their acceptance and welcoming them to your organization.

A professional employer organization (PEO) like ExtensisHR can help SMBs hire faster through its full-cycle recruiting services that pair seasoned human expertise and best-in-class artificial intelligence (AI) solutions. These services, which are included with ExtensisHR’s PEO solution at no extra charge, include:

A streamlined hiring process paves the path for success and may just lead a candidate to choose your SMB over a competitor. Showing genuine interest in potential talent’s preferences also demonstrates that your business truly cares and can cultivate a richer company culture and boost employee engagement—from before day 1.

Are you looking to reduce your time to hire and secure the best talent for your organization? Contact ExtensisHR’s experts today to discover how we can help you close the right candidates faster.

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