Why do companies take so long to recruit new staff?

Although the unemployment rate is falling it is still at 6.5% and many companies are still operating with fewer staff than they need. That’s why it was interesting to read a fact in the Wall Street Journal that it is taking companies 25 days to fill vacant positions, a 13-year high.

So why are companies taking longer to employ new employees? The answer, the “Perfect Fit Syndrome.”

What is the “Perfect Fit Syndrome?”

The Perfect Fit Syndrome is the idea that companies are looking for the exact perfect candidate for the vacant role. Basically someone who is ready to jump straight in, do the job above expectations without any training. In short, a superstar!

Companies are looking for people who already have a job but aren’t really looking for their next move. This is becoming easier with technology such as LinkedIn, as recruiters can target people working in certain roles or industries. However, once they are selected, there is an exhaustive screening process to ensure the company doesn’t make a mistake.

This Perfect Fit Syndrome is creating bad experiences for job seekers as they have to wait longer or suitable roles are filled. Furthermore, the extensive screening process is putting a burden on smaller human resources teams.

Is there a problem with the “Perfect Fit Syndrome?”

There’s nothing wrong wanting to employ great people because that will in turn make your company great too. The problem is that the definition of the right person is incorrect. The Perfect Fit Syndrome matches people with a list of prerequisites, but doesn’t necessarily mean they are right for the job as there are many other factors to think about.

For instance, if you find someone willing to leave another company to join yours, what’s stopping them leaving yours in the near future? Plus if companies are only going to make a decision from a CV, they may be missing out on other candidates who have excellent job-related skills.

Is there a better way?

Employing the right person doesn’t have to be a challenge. The key is to employ people who can do the job, who are enthusiastic about the role AND fit in with the team.

Compare that to a person who hasn’t had a job for a while or is desperately searching for a new one. Maybe they need a bit of training to get up-to-speed. But who’s going to want that job more? And who’s going to be easier to work with? The candidate who wasn’t looking to move or the one that will give 100% everyday.

The fundamental reason companies are taking longer to employ staff is because of risk- they don’t want to make a mistake. This conservative approach is actually pushing away some great candidates.

So instead, don’t focus entirely on CVs, but rather focus on the person and their characteristics. Give them a chance with an interview or trial and it may just work out better for you.


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