Myriad factors, both internal and external to a business, can affect time-to-hire. It can vary by job level, discipline, industry and region. Certainly, the Middle East as a whole has a longer time-to-hire period for professionals (45-60 days) than other regions such as North America and Europe (late 20s to late 30s).

Indeed, many organizations I speak to across the Middle East say they struggle to find high-quality talent in the region, be it a National or Expat, resulting in longer time-to-hire as the search parameters are changed to cover other territories. Many also say that they fail to quickly and professionally onboard these hires once an offer has been accepted, which leaves candidates silently and anxiously waiting on the outcome of visa applications and attestation processes. Clearly, this is not a comfortable position to be in for a candidate who has committed to moving themselves (and often their families) to a new continent and country. Similarly, it hurts your Employer Brand, while also negatively affecting your productivity and profitability as the cost of an unfilled vacancies mounts.

Reducing time-to-hireThe answer to reducing time-to-hire, however, isn’t just to throw money at it by hiring more recruiters. Nor is it appropriate to set unrealistic targets for your Talent Acquisition (TA) team without in some way materially changing the way they do their job, be it through additional training, technological support or an improved process. Both of these tactics often result in a higher cost base, little to no improvement in time-to-hire and a drastic drop in the motivation and commitment of the TA team. Furthermore, an all too common result of increased pressure on a person in any role is that over time Quality starts to diminish. In recruitment speak, this relates to quality of service to the candidate and to hiring managers. Arguably, the former is the more important as it affects what someone external to your business sees and thinks of you. Nevertheless, any market-leading TA function should have a plan and strategy for both.

So time-to-hire isn’t as simple as picking an arbitrary number of what you or the business think it should be and then tracking your recruiter’s performance against it. Nor is it as black and white as a simple measurement of time – it’s much more complex than that.

Time and patience are key

Time-to-hire cannot be reduced overnight. Historical data analysis needs to be completed, and if that data doesn’t exist, then it needs to be collected so that a proper benchmark can be created from which future targets can be set. Incremental reductions over time then need to be built in so as not to send your existing TA team running for the hills through the sheer stress and panic of it all.

What’s more, time (if not money) needs to be invested in training and upskilling your team in order to help them reach these targets while maintaining the quality standards you set for them. Providing your team with a LinkedIn Recruiter license or access to a local job board doesn’t mean you’ve done your job as a leader. Providing your team with training and refresher courses on how best to leverage that technology to benefit you and your business does.

The old proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” is extremely apt for this situation. Repeatedly, I hear TA leaders across the Middle East say, “Oh well, we’ve invested in this ATS, or that CRM, or that job board,” thinking that is enough. Well, great! But when was the last time you gave your team a refresher on that tool? More commonly, I ask the TA team itself who is the “Super User” or “Champion” for that tool, and overwhelmingly the answer is, “that person has left.” So just how are these teams meant to reduce time-to-hire, while maintaining a Quality of Service acceptable to all stakeholders, if they aren't given the tools and training needed to be better?

Simultaneously, as businesses try to reduce time-to-hire, TA and HR leaders shouldn’t be afraid to “look within.” Whether you do this yourself or engage a company like Cielo to conduct Consultancy Services such as our Recruitment Diagnostic, it is important that you assess your own end-to-end processes to identify areas of strength and weakness. This will give you a clear indication as to where bottlenecks in the recruitment process are occurring and why, empowering you to change the process. This will benefit all stakeholders, while giving your recruiters every opportunity to hit their targets.

Reducing time-to-hire shouldn't be a spur-of-the-moment tactical decision. A longer-term strategic plan needs to be created that involves a combination of training, new tools and technologies along with an internal process review. This will enable you to set challenging yet realistic time to hire targets for your team that will motivate them to perform, while in so doing also helping you to improve the quality of service received by all.


Post contributed by Tom Bolton, Solutions Manager. Connect with him on LinkedIn.