What You Need to Know to Cope With the Slow Hiring Process

During an election year, the monthly job statistics and unemployment rates seem like nothing more than numbers for politicians to use in their campaigns. What job seekers really want to know is this – will these numbers mean my job search will be quick or agonizingly long?

The most recent weekly unemployment number dropped nationally by 2,000 claims and we read and hear news about positive job growth trends and slowly declining unemployment rates, yet the truth is that the hiring process is still very slow.

There are numerous variables that affect how quickly companies add staff and how this impacts each candidate’s view of the hiring pace. Here are the most common factors that influence the length of the process today:

1. Sheer Volume: The Bureau of Labor Statistics monthly report in March 2012 states that when the most recent recession began (December 2007), the number of unemployed persons per job opening was 1.8 (per job opening). The unemployed person per job opening ratio has trended downward since the end of the recession, yet, it was still 3.4 unemployed per job opening in March 2012.  What does this mean to you? It is still a very competitive job market.

2. Candidates Are Eager to Change Employers: Every day, I hear from job seekers in transition – those at risk of an imminent layoff, those who have been out of work long-term or those who just plain despise their current job. For these people the hiring processes cannot move fast enough. These folks are security professionals who are eager to contribute and apply their skills. They also have mortgages to meet each month, families to take care of, or are just fed up with the burden of a stressful work environment that offers little professional stimulation.

3.  Avoiding Uncertainty: Despite an improving economy many companies, especially smaller firms, remain concerned about the global economy’s stability, foreign crises, revenue, election year uncertainty, tight business credit and a variety of other worries. Even though they may have pent up hiring needs, many remain reluctant to pull the trigger on hiring employees while there is uncertainty around so many things outside of their control – most of which have a high level of impact on a business’s ability to succeed.

4.  Just Looking and Looking and Looking: Employers are more willing to shop around, even after identifying and interviewing candidates with hard to find skills or skill sets in hopes of finding someone even better and/or cheaper. If an employer sees an excellent candidate they think there must be 10 more like this one.

5. Recruiters Still Struggle to Find Certain Candidates: Employers are very “picky” right now and many current job openings are a combination of two or more positions rolled into a single job. As a result, employers are holding out for candidates they perceive to have the right mix of skills required to succeed. While these types of candidates are harder to come by the employers are drawn to them because they need less training, ramp-up time is quicker, and hiring managers feel they can squeeze more productivity from them.

Until the unemployment rate is close to six percent, the process will likely be longer than you would like. While awareness about the situation may not do anything to shorten the process, it can help ease some of the anxiety.

Please share your personal experience: What has your recent experience during the hiring process been like…was it fast or slow?

David Lammert

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