5 Ways to Break Through Recruiting Roadblocks & Decrease Time-to-Hire

by Jessica Miller-Merrell on February 19, 2020

Roadblocks in the hiring and recruiting process are always top-of-mind for HR leaders no matter what your industry or area of hiring expertise. These hiring obstacles or “bottlenecks” can cancel out the efficiency and momentum that took you and your team months or even years to build into your recruiting process. Metrics play a big part in understanding where your recruiting bottlenecks lie, and our job as HR leaders is to use recruiting metrics to uncover roadblocks in our hiring process. This allows us to develop strategies to lessen or eliminate them altogether. This data can also be used to hold our recruiting teams accountable.

You can find recruiting bottlenecks at any stage of the hiring process, but I find they are most commonly going to be related to communication and feedback, with your hiring manager. If the job description is vague or doesn’t include enough qualifications listed, you’re going to get too many unqualified candidates applying to a given position. This takes up a great deal of time for your team when you’re screening.

More importantly, if the expectations from your hiring manager don’t line up with the skills and experience you’re screening applicants for, you’re going to send candidates to hiring managers for interviews that are a waste of both parties’ time. Again, these roadblocks happen because of a lack of communication and feedback.

Public Sector Time to Hire Metrics and Recruiting Trends

According to NEOGOV’s 2018 analysis of 1,000 U.S. public sector organizations (government agencies and higher ed institutions) the average time to hire* was:

  • Total (all organizations): 79 days
  • State: 72 days
  • Education: 82 days
  • Local Government: 85 days

*based on the start date of when requisition was created by the hiring manager, sent to HR for authorization, through the date that candidate accepted the offer.

In the current public sector talent marketplace, a time to hire that is longer than 75 days is a significant roadblock to recruiting success. This means that you’re losing candidates to competing organizations simply because your competitor is able to act faster than you and your team.

Five Ways to Reduce or Eliminate Recruiting Roadblocks

Here are four must do’s recruiters should have as part of their hiring process designed to improve time to hire and eliminate obstacles in your hiring:

1. Schedule an intake call to discuss the position, identify key skills and experiences, and discuss timing and requirements with your hiring manager. This is where you’ll clarify what you must include on a job description and posting, set expectations for candidates for specific skills and experience, and improve candidate experience by being able to share the hiring timeline. Trust me, an intake call can speed up your hiring process and improve your relationship with your hiring manager dramatically.

2. Use a service level agreement (or a written document shared via email) to help set expectations and have both parties agree on their roles in ensuring that this position is filled quickly and with the most qualified party. This agreement is the result of your intake call or meeting and having the key components outlined in writing can help keep your team and your hiring manager on the same page for response time, hiring timelines, interview scoring, and expectations for candidate qualifications.

3. Treat and manage your open job requisition like you do an open project. Schedule regular calls to discuss progress and get feedback from all parties involved. As you work through the screening process for these open positions, set recurring meetings for phone updates with your hiring managers until the position is filled. During these calls, you’ll want to ask for feedback so that you can adjust qualifications or change your screening questions as needed, as well as update the hiring manager on you and your team’s progress in finding candidates for the role.

4. Encourage feedback. The hiring process is collaborative. This means getting comments, suggestions, and opinions from all parties. Provide an organized method for tracking candidate feedback from hiring managers and other stakeholders. There are tools tailored to the public sector that allows you to more easily capture feedback in real-time and act on it quickly.

5. Streamline your project team. If there are too many people (or cooks) involved in the hiring process for a role, you’re going to have a longer time to hire (and potentially lose qualified candidates due to the wait time) because all parties must agree on the decision to hire a candidate. If a hiring decision is being made by committee, it can negatively impact your average time to hire and your candidate experience. Panel and group interviews are great, but one hiring manager should be designated to make a definitive and final decision on which candidate to hire.

Optimize Your Recruiting Process to Ensure Success and Everyone Wins!

It’s difficult to attract, screen, and engage applicants, especially for qualified as well as higher level positions. Recruiting in the public sector and higher education industries can be even more challenging. Being able to streamline your recruiting process is key to reducing your time to hire, retaining interested and qualified candidates, and increasing the likelihood that the candidate you select will remain with your organization. Most importantly, this process allows your recruiting team to compete for a wider range of talent leveling the playing field and giving your hiring manager the best candidates to support your organization’s mission, goals, and long-term strategies.

Jessica Miller-Merrell

Jessica Miller-Merrell is a workplace change agent, author and consultant focused on human resources and talent acquisition living in Austin, TX. Recognized by Forbes as a top 50 social media influencer and is a global speaker. She’s the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource and host of the Workology Podcast. Jessica has worked with a variety of companies including AT&T, the University of Oklahoma, the Department of Labor, and Chickasaw Nation Industries.