Job openings rose sharply earlier this year, evidence that employers are beginning to ramp up hiring as the economy improves. Openings in January rose about 7.6% to 2.7 million, according to the Labor Department, the highest level since February 2009. Job gains continued in manufacturing, adding 21,000 jobs to the durable goods side, while non-durables lost 4,000 positions.
With unemployment still at about 9.7%, there remains an average of 5.5 unemployed people competing for each job opening, far more than the 1.7 people who were competing before the recession. Professional unemployment, however, fell to 4.7% from highs of 5.5% last summer. As a result, recruiters and hiring managers are buried in job applications which in turn are increasing the length of the interviewing process and escalating candidate frustrations.
TopGrading Solutions, a job recruitment firm specializing in supply chain and retail positions, recently surveyed job candidates about their most recent interviewing experience. Forty-three percent of those surveyed expressed frustration as their experience was “drawn-out.” However, 35% were pleased, describing the process as “fast, company seemed serious about filling role.”
“Companies with the most urgency are still moving quickly. Employees have been spread so thin during the recession that companies can no longer leave critical roles unfilled,” states Jason Breault, managing director of TopGrading Solutions. Other results from the poll include 6% stating their interviewing experience as “not what they expected” and 16% applied but haven’t been contacted.
In a follow-up poll question, TopGrading Solutions asked candidates what would have improved their last interviewing experience and increased their enthusiasm to join the company. Results again indicate that candidates want to see a faster process when interviewing (41%), while 25% want a better grasp of the company culture. Only 18% want to see a better compensation plan or benefits, 9% want more exposure to the staff when interviewing, and 4% want a better grasp of what sets the brand apart.
With candidates eager to move forward, companies are still showing trends of hesitancy when it comes to filling roles. “Right now, a lot of employers are taking their time when hiring, exploring more candidates than normal, requiring more interviews,” says Breault. “However, when companies are ready to move forward, top candidates have already been hired.” If companies want to secure top talent, decisions are going to have to be made fairly quickly, shortening the interviewing process.