The pursuit of the perfect hire

03.11.2013


The pursuit of perfection could be costly for employers
The pursuit of perfection could be costly for employers

In the post-recession world of hiring, companies are taking a different approach to bringing on top talent. Many businesses are reporting vacancies in a number of positions. Although a number of companies have the budget and a pool of talented candidates that would make great employees for the company, they're still putting off bringing on new workers, The New York Times reports.

Perhaps it's lingering jitters after the recession, which eliminated nearly 9 million jobs across the country, but companies have been extending the review process to great lengths to ensure they bring on a candidate who has plenty to offer to the firm. According to Aerotek's Perfect Fit Survey released last fall, half of hiring managers do, in fact, believe that there is a "perfect hire" out there. 

Identifying the problem
The extensive review process, combined with the largest number of job openings seen since the depths of the recession, is keeping these positions unfilled much longer than they used to be. According to the news source, job vacancies are going unfilled for an average of 23 business days, compared to the low of 15 days in 2009. Some believe there is a skills gap in several sectors, which has been said to be one reason the 12 million unemployed Americans are having trouble filling the 4 million open positions. However, studies show this may not be the sole cause. Another reason could be that the time it takes to fill a position has grown because some employers tap a delicate dance when it comes to expanding their payrolls. 

"There's a fear that the economy is going to go down again, so the message you get from CFOs is to be careful about hiring someone," said John Sullivan, a management professor at San Francisco State University. "There's this great fear of making a mistake, of wasting money in a tight economy."

To keep from making a poor hiring decision, which can be extremely costly, companies are bringing candidates in for interviews in droves, and keep them coming back for several more. In Aerotek's survey, one in four hiring managers said they have increased the number of screening procedures. Further, interviews with multiple members of the same team were identified as the best approach to determining if a candidate has the requirements needed for a certain position. According to the Times, the average duration of the interview process at major companies, including Starbucks, General Mills and Southwest Airlines, has doubled in the last two years. 

"After they call you back after the sixth interview, there's a part of you that wants to say, 'That's it, I'm not going back,'" said Paul Sullivan, who works as video editor in Washington. "But then you think, hey, maybe seven is my lucky number. And besides, if I don't go, they'll just eliminate me if something else comes up because they'll think I have an attitude problem."

Finding a solution
The lengthy hiring process can be attributed to a perfect storm of factors that are still crippling the U.S. High unemployment means less consumer spending, and if sales aren't rising, businesses have no reason to expand and bring on new workers. Although companies may see it as cheaper to hold off on hiring until the economy improves, Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford University economics professor, warns this could be costly in the long run. Without new hires, the recovery process could drag on for quite a while. 

"It's like one of those horror movies, an economic Friday the 13th, where this recession never seems to die," he quipped. 

Fortunately, many companies have found they can shorten the interview process – without compromising the perfect hire – by turning to temporary staffing agencies. These firms can save companies both time and money during the hiring process, and help them receive perfect fit candidates they're looking for.

What's more, taking a contract-to-hire approach gives companies the opportunity to "try before they buy," so to speak, letting them test out a candidate before they make a long-term commitment. Staffing companies help prepare candidates for the task at hand, making the entire hiring process easier and more streamlined, all while adding a valued employee to a business' headcount.