“We have to do WHAT to get a hire?” – Reducing the Time and Effort in Hiring

We Have To Do WHAT To Get A Hire?

A recent article in Washington Post by Gene Marks (https://goo.gl/dGVdTP) summarized the findings of a study by Lever (www.lever.co), a recruiting software service.  In the study, Lever revealed:

  1. A typical small business (< 200 employees) evaluates an average of 86 candidates – from all sources – to make a hire. A large business, 100 or more candidates.
  2. Of the candidates who apply directly, almost 90 percent are rejected.
  3. Only 17 percent of candidates are invited to a screening (phone or in person).
  4. Of the candidates who are invited to screening, over 60 percent come from referrals or staffing / recruiting firms.
  5. About 30 percent of the candidates who are invited to screening receive an offer.

Our experience indicates these numbers to be on target.  If you are an HR or Talent Acquisition specialist, you are nodding your head in agreement.  If you are a Hiring Manager, you may be skeptical; sit with your HR recruiter and see what they go through just to get one candidate for you to interview.  It will be an eye opener.

There are inferences we can make, but one thing is certain: It takes a lot of time and energy to hire, especially a strong hire!

There’s opportunity for improvement, right?   Yes, there is – so, what’s the answer?

There is no “one answer”.  We find that each firm has their own challenges and opportunities for improvement.

A few ideas on how to start:

Look at Your Firm from the Outside In

Often, we do not have a solid grasp of what our firm looks like from the outside, and how we stack up against the options a candidate has. We are all are so heads down in our day to day business that we lose perspective.  As a result, we spend time on candidates who happen to have the right titles and buzzwords on the resume who should have been screened out early

Ask yourself, your associates, and outside stakeholders:

  • What makes this a place I want to come to work at? Why would others want to work here?
  • As an employer, where do we shine?
  • How do we stack up to others in our space regarding pay, benefits, and work environment?
  • What are the characteristics of people do well here and stay? Why do they like it here?

These answers lead to the candidate profile that fits your firm.  Leverage it to target candidates for sourcing.  Use it to quickly evaluate whether a candidate might be a cultural / organizational fit based on background, and reject the non-fits early in the process.

Understand the type of person that is attracted to and is successful at your company, and target and evaluate candidates accordingly.

Make Candidate Decisions Quickly  

We watch hiring managers labor over the decision to proceed with a candidate.  From experience, both as Hiring Managers and Search Professionals, we’ve realized:

The “yes’s” are easy. The “no’s” are easy. The “maybe’s” are “no’s” in disguise.

Invariably, where the candidate is deemed a “maybe” or a “think it over” or a “hold while I look at more candidates”, they are ultimately rejected. Over the past 25 years, we’ve seen only a handful of scenarios where a “maybe” candidate was hired, and in each one, it didn’t work out.

If decisioning at any point of the hiring process is prolonged, chances are one or more of the following is going on:

  • The job requirements are incomplete, unclear, or misunderstood – This is the equivalent of going to the mall and browsing aimlessly through stores until you see what you like. The Hiring Manager reviews candidates and resumes thinking “when I see what I want I’ll know it”, and thinks “this person might work”.  Stop this immediately – it is a huge waste of effort, delays progress, and reflects poorly on your firm from the candidate’s view. Get the job requirements confirmed, then pursue candidates.
  •  The screening is inadequate – Sometimes, inexperienced or ill-equipped interviewers participate in the process. People are pulled into the interview with little or no prep, and aren’t sure what their role is or what to ask. The relevant questions are glossed over, and the candidate is judged on subjective feelings rather than objective criteria. Or, they are brought back for a third, fourth, or fifth time. Again, stop this immediately and fix it!

If it is taking much more than a day to decide on a candidate, then find out why and address it.

Diversify Your Sourcing Options

Many firms struggle sourcing candidates.    An ad is placed, weeks go by, and then the employer seeks the help of third party once they get desperate.  The screening process is strong but finding candidates is the issue.

Recognize up front that some positions are tough to fill, and adjust your sourcing strategy accordingly, especially if there is time sensitivity to filling a position.

Recognize your firm’s talent acquisition capacity.  A small firm might have only one or two people in their HR department to handle everything: compensation, benefits, compliance, employee relations, talent acquisition, etc.  There is simply not enough resource available when there’s a need to fill a role.

Options include:

  • Employee Referrals: There are numerous ways to have a formal or informal program. Keys to success include having an ongoing program, and make it very public. Recognition can be done via a formal program (extra time off, cash bonus, etc.) or informal (lunch with an executive, a personalized “thank you” from a VP, etc.). The secret to success is that it is done consistently.
  • Search Professionals (aka “Headhunters”): Align your firm with a search firm that not only understands your positions but understands your company, business, and culture. A competent search firm will:
    • Interview the hiring manager for the position and seek guidance.
    • Consistently forward candidates that you want to interview.
    • Have a framework they can articulate that explains how they grow to understand your business and vet candidates to fit.
    • Will be completely transparent with the candidate’s fit.
    • Be brutally honest when your desires are inconsistent with the market.

A search partner should understand the position as well as you do, and screen candidates accordingly.  They should function as an extension of your internal talent acquisition team, and not simply be a “vendor” that throws resumes your way.

  • Staffing Firms: Staffing Firms provide professionals on a contract to hire basis. This can be an option when you need a person on board yesterday.  In a contract to hire model, both the employer and the candidate get the opportunity to “date before getting married”.

Again, a strong Staffing Firm partner should be able to search for and screen candidates that not only fit technically but culturally.  To carry on the courtship analogy, there is risk in that the candidate may decide to “break up” and not commit to a long-term relationship. The employer finds themselves back at the beginning of a search, or the long-term prospect of paying a premium for a person that is a temporary employee.


We are all pressed to do things faster, better, and with less cost.  The hiring process can be a huge drain on resources, particularly for positions that are tough to fill or for a small or mid sized firm that doesn’t have depth in talent acquisition.  Take a look at your process to:

  • Spend your energy on candidates that are cultural fits.
  • Increase the speed of decisioning at each stage of the hiring process.
  • Diversify your sourcing strategy for tough to fill positions.

What are some of your hiring challenges?   We’ve helped clients of all types overcome these and other hiring challenges.  To see how Advisory and Consulting Services can help your organization hire more effectively, contact us at rich@acsconsults.com or 614-561-3412 for an initial consultation.