7 More Reasons Why Slow Hiring Is Bad For Your Business

Article main image
Apr 23, 2014

Second of two parts

After several decades of work on “speed hiring,” I have put together an extensive list of the negative consequences associated with taking too long to hire.

I listed the five most damaging factors yesterday in 5 Good Reasons Slow Hiring Can Damage Your Business ResultsHere are seven (7) more of the most damaging factors.

1. Slow hiring will reduce applications because it will damage your external employer brand image and the candidate experience – One of the primary contributors to effective hiring is having a great external employer brand image. I’ve already highlighted how slow hiring will cause you to lose many top candidates, but you should also realize that slow hiring will also hurt your brand image, which in turn will reduce the number and quality of the applications that you receive.

Unfortunately, slow hiring will hurt your brand image because having a slow hiring process will be quickly and frequently revealed on social media. For example, entries not only list problems with the hiring process, but they almost always reveal how long it takes in days to complete the hiring process.

It simply doesn’t help your employer brand when prospects find conflicting information, where you are praised for many talent factors but criticized for slow hiring. A long, drawn-out hiring process will also negatively impact your candidate experience, which is another topic that gets a lot of attention on social media and in job-seeker-related blogs.

With these two factors combined, you must expect that slow hiring will damage your image, and as a result, you will get fewer high-quality applications and almost none from individuals who need to make a job switch decision quickly.

The lesson to be learned is: In a world full of social media, that you can’t expect to keep “being painfully slow” hiring a secret from potential applicants.

2. Slow decisions will cause you to lose a high percentage of “head-to-head” talent battles for top candidates — One of the goals of most functions (and recruiting is no exception) is to provide their firm with a competitive advantage. In recruiting, having a competitive edge allows your firm to win a disproportionately high number of head-to-head talent battles with your top talent competitors.

The inability to make fast hiring decisions on highly sought after “decisive candidates” who know what they want will cause them to choose the talent competitor that meets their needs first. The cost of losing a head-to-head battle is extremely high. This is because when you lose top-performing talent directly to a quick-acting competitor, its productivity and innovation rates will rise immediately, while at the same time, the productivity and innovation at your firm (which still has a vacant position) will remain low.

The lesson to be learned is: That speed hiring gives your firm a competitive edge in head-to-head talent competition. And by acting quickly, not only will you capture a higher percentage of top performers, but you will simultaneously keep that top talent away from your competitors.

3. Slow hiring dramatically reduces hiring manager and recruiter excitement – Another major factor in great hiring is a high level of hiring manager involvement and excitement. Many in recruiting complain about the apathy of hiring managers; however, one of the primary reasons that causes managers to give a low priority to recruiting is the weak effort-reward connection.

Slow hiring processes mean that managers have to put in a lot of time and effort upfront but they don’t received their “reward” and the impact of their work until months later (when someone actually starts). Hiring managers should also be made aware that in many firms, should there be a hiring freeze, layoffs, or budget cuts, a protracted hiring process may mean that they actually lose their vacant position permanently.

The lesson to be learned is: That fast hiring reduces that period of time until new hires start, so both impatient managers and recruiters are more likely to be excited because they see and understand the direct connection between a short recruiting period and a new hire beginning the job. And based on what recruiters tell me, they hate slow and bureaucratic hiring processes, so if you want to hire and retain great recruiters, speed up the process dramatically.

4. Your customers and employees will also feel the negative impacts of slow hiring – You can’t be myopic when it comes to the impact of slow hiring. Recruiting leaders must understand that when a position is vacant for a long period of time, many will suffer.

Customers will certainly be able to notice that extended vacancies in customer service positions will result in degraded and slower service, because there is literally no one in the chair or that less experienced and capable temps will have to be used as fill-ins.

Your employees will also notice because they will be asked to do double duty and/or overtime, which will negatively impact their morale and retention rates. Employees who came from other faster-hiring firms will get frustrated because they know that these extended vacancies aren’t necessary.

The lesson to be learned is: That recruiting leaders must fully understand and then calculate in dollars the broad negative business impacts that excessive position vacancies can have on both customers and employees.

5. If you are targeting “passive prospects,” realize that slow hiring may result instead in the hiring of actives – Based on the premise that most desirable top performers are currently employed and well treated, many recruiting functions have begun to target the so-called “passive prospects” (this is a misnomer because these individuals cannot accurately be described as passive).

The so-called passives may take a long time to decide to leave their current job, but hiring managers must realize that once they indicate even a potential interest in another job (for example merely updating their LinkedIn profile) they will be pounced on immediately by recruiters and employees seeking to make a top-quality referral.

The net result of this high interest is that passive prospects will not be in the job market for very long. To make matters even worse, failing to make a hiring decision quickly will allow their current boss time to make a compelling counteroffer to stay.

The net result is that extended hiring processes simply have a low probability of capturing these highly desirable passive prospects. In fact, a slow hiring process may give your firm a zero chance of hiring anyone who becomes “suddenly available” and who is in the job market for less than three weeks.

The key lesson to be learned is: That because slow recruiting processes are not capable of hiring these targeted passives, firms with painfully slow hiring processes generally end up with literally 100 percent of their hires coming from the active job seeker pool. When hiring these active job seekers, speed is less essential (because they have fewer choices), but even then, slow hiring decisions means that you will likely lose the best from among these active job seekers.

6. An extended hiring processes can significantly raise “hidden” hiring costs – If your lengthy hiring process is a result of requiring an excessive number of interviews (more than four), the cost of hiring will go up because much more management, recruiter, and employee time will be spent interviewing.

These added costs are often “hidden” because they are not included in the standard cost-per-hire calculation. If your process also unnecessarily requires more people to sit in on each interview, if it requires more than the top three candidates to go through interviews, or if each interview has a scheduled time that is longer than necessary, your hidden costs will go up as more employee time is devoted to hiring, rather than their normal duties.

Hiring processes are unnecessarily longer and thus more costly for variety of additional reasons. Typically hiring processes are extended because they require that you run job postings longer, they require you to give internal candidates first choice, they require excessive requisition approvals or they include too many administrative steps.

The lesson to be learned is: Unnecessary elements in an extended hiring process can directly increase hidden costs by requiring recruiters, hiring managers, and employees to spend unnecessary and unproductive time on low-value aspects of recruiting.

7. Using standard speed-of-hire metrics can severely mask slow hiring problems – Most firms are satisfied with simply measuring the average number of days it takes to make a hiring decision. Unfortunately, using a typical time to fill or time-to-start metric alone can hide the actual damage caused by slow hiring.

First of all, measuring and reporting the average time is misleading because it may mask the fact that although your average hire time is good, the hiring time for in high-demand top prospects and for revenue-generating and mission-critical jobs may actually be miserable.

Executives and recruiting leaders should realize that the primary reason that you reduce hiring time is specifically because you are seeking higher-quality hires. So, if you don’t effectively demonstrate the direct connection between these two factors (i.e. how each day of reduced hiring time increases the quality of hire by X percent), then you are making a huge mistake.

Measuring hiring speed and hiring quality can also reveal the few unique cases where fast hiring actually increases hiring mistakes. And the final common metric omission is not working with the CFO’s office to quantify the lost dollars that it costs the corporation for each day that the hiring process is longer than necessary.

For large corporations and especially firms in fast-moving industries like high-tech and the mobile phone, I estimate that the impact for each unnecessary day added to a hiring process can easily reach $1 million.

The lesson to be learned isthat it is critical that everyone understands that you must have speed metrics that demonstrate that in recruiting “Speed doesn’t kill new hire quality … but slow does!”

Final thoughts

You certainly won’t impress senior executives with a slow and cumbersome hiring process that routinely misses top talent. On the surface, the need for hiring fast might seem like an easy concept to understand, but in reality, it’s quite a complex issue.

If you don’t yet understand the impact of slow hiring, perhaps an analogy will help. The high school prom makes an excellent analogy.

It is common for most students to ask the most desirable prospects to be their prom date within a week or two of the prom announcement. But what if you decided instead to wait for 47 days to ask (the average time it takes a corporation to make a hiring decision) a desirable prospect for a date? What would the probability be that after 47 days your top three choices would still be available to say yes to your late offer?

Recruiting is a lot like acquiring a prom date. If you wait 47 days to make a selection decision, you must realize how relatively “ugly” your new hire is likely to be!