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Mar 17, 2022

We all know the score. Attracting new talent has never been more difficult. Even before Covid-19 recruitment was a headache, with one US survey recently finding 69% of employers are struggling to fill positions, up from just 14% a decade earlier.

Fast forward to today though, and we’re now starting to see the impact of the pandemic. The number of US job openings is higher than ever before. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics it stood at 10.9 million by the end of 2021 – which was not far behind the record peak of 11.1 million reached in July that same year.

This ‘jobseekers market’ means those looking for jobs are more empowered than ever. Of the 68.9 million workers who quit their jobs during 2021, 47.4 million did so voluntarily. During last November alone, 3% of employed U.S. workers quit their jobs, while research by Gartner reveals a fifth of employees are actively hunting for new roles.

But is panic hiring the right thing to do?

In a bid to lure workers into their employment, firms are undoubtedly upping the ante. They are courting candidates with improved work perks. Pinterest amped up its parental benefits at the beginning of 2022, while tech firms such as Zopa and GoCardless now offer employees the opportunity to work overseas for up to three months a year.

This all sounds great. Worryingly however, are reports that are surfacing about companies actually paying candidates to turn up to interviews. Others, such as retailer, Home Depot, announced the roll-out of an accelerated hiring process which it said could see applicants offered a role within just one day of applying.

But is such rapid hiring really such good news?

On the one hand it’s no secret jobseekers often find the recruitment process long, arduous and intrusive. Research by LinkedIn has shown that the median hiring time in some industries is as long as 49 days.

But – and it is a big but – employers do need to tread a careful line between getting people through the door and doing their due diligence to ensure they really are hiring the best person for the role.

The pandemic effect

It’s worth noting that bad hires, sometimes recruited too quickly and without necessary checks, can be incredibly costly. One survey has found that nearly three-quarters of employers have picked the wrong candidates for roles in the past.

What’s also clear is that the pandemic is further complicating the picture. Remote hiring now increasingly commonplace, with bosses routinely extending job offers to people they’ve never actually met in person. But such is the desire to hire that it’s now becoming much easier for unscrupulous jobseekers to falsely embellish their CVs or misrepresent their achievements in the hope that this won’t be noticed.

A survey by Checkster found that 78% of applicants had lied or misrepresented themselves in a job application, with the most frequent falsehoods being mastery of a skill they barely use (such as a foreign language or Excel), and working at a company longer than they really did in order to omit another employer.

Screen before you scream

Careful screening of applicants is therefore a key step in the hiring process that cannot be skipped – no matter how urgent the pressure is to hire.

The key though is doing it in a way that doesn’t discourage really great talent before they’ve even joined. That’s where the use of automated platforms – which make it quick and hassle-free for candidates to submit key information – is vital.

Remember, Robert Half finds 62% of jobseekers lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back within two weeks of an interview, so anything an employer can do to keep a candidate as up-to-date and informed about their application status as possible is likely to help distinguish them from competitors. Your reputation as an employer does not start on day one of the job: it begins the moment an applicant is invited to interview.

Further measures firms could take to reduce friction in the hiring process involve introducing online psychometric tests early on, to determine whether someone could be a good fit.

Even letting candidates know what the hiring journey will involve – ie how many interviews they will need to attend or tests they will need to complete, and when they will find out if they were successful – could help them stay better engaged.

The lesson though is the same. Don’t cut hiring corners. While pressure has probably never been greater to get bums on seats, smart firms will learn to take stock, and not let the situation of scarce talent get the better of them. Smart smart use of HR tech is what will make hiring a smooth process – for both parties.