Everyone knows the recruitment process is getting longer and longer, particularly within the financial sector.

And everyone recognises the problems that come with such a protracted process: rising costs and disgruntled candidates, to name but two.

But what can organisations do to reduce the time to hire?

Drastic measures

Second-round interviews are the norm nowadays, but third and even fourth stages are becoming more common. Competency-based assessments, presentations and psychometric testing are increasingly an accepted part of the hiring process.

Add to this the increasingly rigorous and lengthy pre-employment checks required, and these are just some of the reasons you have a recruitment process often now measured in months rather than weeks.

It is a complex and lengthy process requiring careful management. Delays at one stage inevitably impact on the arrangements of another and things can quickly spiral out of control.

Managing managers

One of the most common reasons for a lengthy recruitment process is the hiring manager’s availability – or rather lack of it.

For recruiters and HR professionals, hiring is part of the day job, but hiring managers must create additional time for the process. However, often other activities will take priority.

Managing the hiring manager’s time effectively can have the biggest impact on reducing the length of the recruitment process. But what’s the best way to do this?

A recruitment timeline

Although things are often subject to change and the hiring journey needs to be flexible, there is no reason not to set out at the very start what the ideal journey looks like. An example is provided below.

I realise I risk stating the obvious with this approach, but it is amazing how often this basic framework is missing from the process. Its absence does create problems.

This is useful for all stakeholders in the journey, but particularly the candidate and the hiring manager – the two people who perhaps don’t go through this process often.

The candidate

Disengaged candidates is one of the consequences of ever-lengthening hiring processes, sometimes leading to applicant drop outs.

Many specialisms across the financial sector are now candidate-driven markets. Time, here, is clearly of the essence if employers wish to secure the best talent.

But good candidates will be patient if good companies keep them engaged, even during a long and drawn out process. While length is important, dialogue is critical.

For the candidate, a tangible recruitment timeline outlines the number and nature of stages likely to be involved. It also manages expectations on when they are likely to receive feedback at each stage.

The hiring manager

For the hiring manager, it provides similar support. But it also gives clear direction on what level of their input is required, when and for how long.

By outlining a roadmap, with desirable deadlines for each stage, it also highlights to them the negative impact of a missed deadline or a postponed interview.

Simple things like blocking out time in a manager’s diary early on, to review CVs or for interviews, can help cut down the waiting time.

Delays may prove inevitable, but agreeing on a shared vision of success at the outset focuses minds and reduces misunderstandings.

Other stakeholders

If using an external recruiter, such a framework also helps the consultant keep candidates up to date with their progress.

For the HR manager, the framework can be used afterwards to assess the effectiveness of the recruitment process and identify where improvements – if any – need to be made in the future.

Reducing time to hire

There are, of course, many other aspects of the recruitment process that when improved will lead to a reduction in the time to hire. Better candidate attraction methods, online interview technology and the use of assessment centres for high volume recruitment, to name but three.

But the adoption of a recruitment timeline, committed to paper and agreed by the main stakeholders, is surely one of the cheapest and most effective means available.