I’m hiring — Where are the candidates?

As we emerge from the pandemic and the economy improves, many organizations affected by COVID-19 are looking to boost their workforce and respond to improved demand for their products and services. With still-high rates of unemployment, one might think that this is an environment that favors the hiring company, but the reality doesn’t seem to reflect that perception. In fact, not only are companies having difficulty filling positions, but they are also seeing increased numbers of candidates breaking off contact altogether, or in modern parlance, “ghosting.”

Companies are interviewing candidates, and in many cases interested in the candidate, but unable to reach them to make offers. These candidates are accepting other positions without notifying other companies that made them offers. A recent Indeed survey found that, since the pandemic began, 76% of employers have been ghosted by candidates, and 57% believe it’s a growing trend. In fact, this isn’t just during the interview process. I’ve dealt with situations in which individuals were officially hired into positions, then simply failed to show up.

Top candidates are likely fielding multiple offers or are at least on the radar of other organizations. They’re more likely to accept a position with the company that makes the best offer consistent with its sense of urgency. If they haven’t heard from you in a while or don’t have an idea of when they can expect to hear from you, they likely won’t wait around. In this candidates’ market, it’s important to streamline your hiring process to beat the competition and get the right candidate.

Doing the legwork even before posting will help things run more smoothly. Make sure the job description reflects exactly what you’re looking for and doesn’t narrow the pool by including unnecessary requirements that are extraneous to the position. It’s important that the initial screener knows exactly what to look for so they can reach out to candidates as soon as resumes are received. You can no longer post a job for 30 days, then start reviewing resumes. The best candidates will be long gone.

The interviewing process also needs to be streamlined. If you see someone who looks like a great candidate, assume that your competitors are also looking at this person. Move fast to assess the candidate. Perhaps in the past you’ve had three weeks of multiple interviews among a team of 10. Is that really necessary? It’s likely that a much smaller core team will be able to identify whether or not a candidate is the right fit and offer a competitive advantage over other potential employers by way of a more efficient hiring process.

Of course, this is not to say you shouldn’t do your due diligence. Don’t rush things and make the wrong hire or second guess yourself because you feel like you rushed things. It’s as important as ever to hire the right person. The due diligence process simply needs to happen more quickly in a job seekers’ market. The good news is that you have tools to make the process happen quickly. The work-from-home culture has proven that people can be more flexible than ever before with their schedules to make interviews happen in an expeditious manner. And technology has helped with HR necessities, such as background checks, allowing them to happen within a day or so.

Like so many things in today’s world, the hiring market is evolving quickly. Failing to embrace the expectations of today’s job candidates puts your organization at risk. Don’t be afraid to shake up your processes — you’ll likely find that your old process was full of inefficiencies. Demonstrating to candidates that you’re agile and willing to move quickly in the hiring process can help cement your reputation as a sophisticated, up-to-date employer.

*This article originally appeared in Memphis Business Journal and was written by Kristin Lockhart, VP of recruiting services at Adams Keegan.