How to Shorten Your Hiring Cycle

By Joe Taylor Jr. | Posted April 10, 2013

Hiring the wrong person for a job can cost your business nearly double that employee's annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). Even a mistaken hiring for a low-level new position can result in thousands of dollars in opportunity costs.

Large companies may be able to absorb the costs of recruiting and training for an open role, but many small businesses need every edge when expanding a team or filling an empty desk. With the right combination of strategy and technology, you can execute a high-level recruitment campaign without the help of an internal HR department.

4 Steps to a Shorter Hiring Cycle

1. Map a career path instead of a job description

Think beyond your organization's current needs and imagine the kind of development you can provide for someone with strong talent. SHRM research shows that more than twenty-five percent of American workers leave their jobs voluntarily each year.

Most of those workers say they're leaving because of dissatisfaction with their roles, their environments or their career opportunities. Build a job description that incorporates both the tasks your business needs today and the opportunities that could emerge when the right candidate exceeds your goals.

2. Extend your referral network

According to Lauren Smith, co-founder of talent-acquisition company Ascendify, employee referral programs can cut down hiring process time and expense. Existing employees already understand your company's culture. They may have an edge predicting which of their professional or personal contacts might fit the role you're trying to fill.


Before shelling out for expensive advertisements, socialize a posting on your company website's careers page via your team's existing network. You're may get a better signal-to-noise-ratio from candidates who already understand your expectations.

3. Automate your application process

Web-based applications like The Resumator, The Applicants, and RecruiterBox offer enterprise-level application tracking tools with small business-sized price tags. Each of these tools uses filters to help pare down hundreds of online applications to a manageable short list. Along with keyword-based filters, these tools can also test applicants on technical skills and industry expertise.

HR consultant Laurie Ruettimann advises company owners against Googling their candidates during this winnowing process, since social media posts can skew opinions of otherwise talented and effective professionals. Instead, Ruettimann suggests using formal background checks on final candidates to flag significant personal or professional conflicts.

4. Interview for competencies instead of just for fit

Authors Mike Lombardo and Bob Eichinger helped popularize the "competency-based interview," a process that removes the subjectivity from job interviews and lets candidates focus on their real-world experiences. By focusing on five or six of the key competencies your ideal employee will need to succeed in their role, you can separate truly effective candidates from the merely charming.

Standardizing your hiring process around all four of these steps can strengthen your recruiting effectiveness. When you've primed your referral network and tightened your filters, your team can set you up for final interviews with only those candidates that meet your criteria. Those candidates should already know what you're looking for, and why you could become great partners in the long run.

Joe Taylor Jr. has covered personal finance and business for more than two decades. His work has been featured on NPR, CNBC, Financial Times Television, Fox Business, and ABC News. He recently completed a personal finance book entitled The Rogue Guide to Credit Cards; (Rogue Guide Books, 2012).

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