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There’s no doubt about it: recruiting can be an unforgiving profession. So many factors can interrupt the flow necessary for recruiters to make successful placements and receive their fees, and many of those factors are outside a recruiter’s sphere of influence.

Even in the best of circumstances, at least four conditions must be met for employers to fill open roles:

  1. The employer must locate a candidate who fits the qualifications they require for the role.
  2. The candidate must be interested in the position, company, and location.
  3. The employer must come to a decision and make an offer to the candidate.
  4. The candidate must be satisfied with the compensation package and decide to accept the offer.

That’s a lot of stars to align, and when it doesn’t work out, recruiters lose all the time and effort invested into the placement. The question is, are recruiters today suffering at the hands of slow-moving clients and choosy candidates? Current signs point to “yes”—and the problem is likely to get worse.

Time to Fill is Very High

The DHI-DFH average time to fill (the working days it takes to fill open positions) hit an all-time high of 29 days in July 2015 and has stayed high since then, coming in at 26.6 days in December. And that is just the average across all industries. In certain industries, the number is much higher:

  • Health Services – 45.1 days
  • Financial services – 43.2 days
  • Information – 35.0 days
  • Manufacturing – 31.9 days

This high time to fill indicates that the “time to recruiters making placement fees” is also rising.

But why is this happening? Is it due to a lack of qualified candidates and the oft-discussed “skills gap,” or noncompetitive offers from hiring managers who drag their feet too long? The answer is likely a combination of factors.

Multiple Factors Contribute to Slow Hiring

According to the most recent MRI recruiter sentiment study, the majority (53%) of candidates represented by MRI recruiters don’t receive a job offer from a hiring manager until 5 or more weeks have passed from the first interview. For another 37%, it takes between three and four weeks. This is a marked change from past years—previous years’ reports indicated that most offers were extended between weeks one and four. Employers have definitely slowed down their hiring processes.

On the flip side, skilled candidates are finding it easier to locate jobs that fit their requirements and are finding their skills more in demand. As a result, they are less likely to stick it out through a lengthy hiring process when they have other options. 44% of MRI recruiters reported that candidates who rejected client offers had “accepted another offer” already. Another 25% rejected an offer because the salary/benefits package offered was lower than expected.

Even though 90% of MRI recruiter respondents agree that the labor market is candidate-driven, many employers have not adjusted their hiring processes to this new reality. They are misreading the employment environment in two ways:

  1. Taking too long to make an offer and losing out on the top-quality candidates they desire (Officevibe reports that the best candidates are off the market in 10 days).
  2. Not offering competitive salary/benefits packages.

What Recruiters Can Do About It

As previously mentioned, many of these are factors recruiters cannot control. They can attempt to give their clients a sense of hiring urgency, but at the end of the day, the final employment decision is between the employer and the candidate. One thing recruiters CAN do is start pursuing job orders that already have a high sense of urgency attached to them.

Contract staffing roles are a great example of this, for a couple of reasons:

  • Contractors are often sought when speed and skill are required (an approaching deadline, a special project, a high-growth season).
  • Contract roles do not have the same permanency as direct-hire positions, so clients often make decisions and offers much faster.

Many recruiters are intimidated by contract staffing because they mistakenly believe they will have to go out and find all-new clients to get contract job orders. What they don’t realize is that their direct-hire clients are often a great source of contract jobs, too—if they know the right ways to open the conversation.

Download our contract staffing scripts for recruiters to learn the best ways to offer contract staffing solutions to your clients, and exactly when to make the “ask.”

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