By most standards, we are now in the hottest STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) job market since the end of the go-go 90’s. Just ask any technical recruiter on the corporate or agency side about their rising ‘time-to-fill’ metrics. Time-to-fill is an important measurement of the number of days between the origination of a new job search and the day the role is filled. In a typical market, it is used as a benchmark for recruiter effectiveness within a given organization. However, a market driven macro-level rise in this number is indicative of qualified candidate scarcity. Since mid-2017 (and even before), time-to-fill metrics have been rising significantly. In some cases, searches as recently as 24 months ago that took 35 days or less to complete are now taking 90-120 days or more, sometimes much more….even for top rated employers.
Small wonder, as according to a 2018 CareerBuilder survey, 86% of highly qualified candidates are happily employed and not open to new opportunities. For well qualified candidates who are entertaining options, they are on the market for slightly less than 10 days. That is a blink of an eye, especially when one considers that many companies interview/hiring processes can take well over a month, after the candidate has been identified!
With this in mind, here are three areas companies might explore to ease the dynamic tension between their direct employment technical hiring needs and market realities:
1 – Loosen Hiring Parameters
Many companies have a ‘comfort zone’ of parameters when hiring. Variables like compensation, location-relocation, baseline skills, citizenship status/sponsorship, years of experience, undergraduate or graduate level degrees/specialization are all qualifiers that might be revisited. The opportunity cost of spending valuable recruiting cycles, ad budget, and extended time-to-fill could be greatly mitigated if one or more of the companies’ comfort zones can be modified.
2 – Speed the Process
Companies often have an established process and pace of actions as they consider candidates. Candidates must meet in-person with a certain group of people, even though it may take several return visits. They may have testing, background checks, references that need to be done. When stacked up and done sequentially, the process can draw out for weeks and even a month or longer. Meanwhile, the candidate is left exposed to other possible options in the market. In the end, the all too frequent result is a well-qualified candidate leaving the market for another opportunity before an offer can even be made. It can leave your hiring manager and HR team frustrated and demoralized to know they have to now restart a process out of step with a hot market, knowing the same result may likely happen again! Hiring managers and HR folks are busier than ever. It is natural to prioritize high value, high likelihood of success activities. Try to insure your processes are orchestrated to optimize your chance of successfully landing the right candidate.
3 – Identify a Trusted Partner
No stone can be left unturned in the quest for that special candidate. The real and opportunity costs of not filling your position or of limiting your pallet of potential candidates to your ad response or internal recruiting actions can be high indeed. Better to find a trusted third party technical recruiting agency partner to augment your efforts. Many work on a contingency basis and can help educate you about current market realities as well as provide high-touch care and feeding of the candidate to keep them engaged as long as possible. They can also help you find passive candidates, which can buy you and your processes more time.
The cost of a poor hire is as high as is the cost of not filling the role at all. Your company has a special opportunity today to improve its position with a great talent acquisition or to continue business as usual. The winning companies are finding a way to adapt to the head winds of this hot candidate job market.