Daniel Callagan explores the most effective ways to secure top talent, arguing that it is important the hiring process is engaging from the very beginning.

It may have started as just a rumbling from across the Atlantic, but the Great Resignation is now well and truly alive in the UK. A whopping 994,000 people moved job to job in the period between January and March 2022, driven by resignations rather than dismissals, according to the Office of National Statistics – a record figure.

At the same time as more staff slip away, job vacancies remain frustratingly difficult to fill. ONS figures show the number of unfilled positions hit an all-time high of 1.295 million in February to April, outstripping the number of jobseekers for the very first time.


Attracting talent

With as many as 45 per cent of employers struggling to fill some roles, according to the CIPD’s latest Labour Market Outlook report, companies are stepping up their efforts to lure potential hires. More than four in 10 (44%) have raised their pay, while more than a third (38%) have increased the flexibility of roles, the same survey found.

These are smart measures to take. Employees increasingly want to be able to work when and where they want: a recent Flexjobs survey found that 43 percent of those who quit their job over a two-week period earlier this year did so because they were not permitted to work remotely, while 41 per cent who did so had been denied flexible schedules.

It’s in this context that around 70 firms are currently experimenting with paying workers their full salaries while slashing their working hours by a fifth, in what is thought to be the world’s biggest trial of the four-day working week.

But while firms are right to look at how to attract recruits, their job isn’t over once someone hits the ‘apply now’ button. That’s because how their hiring journey unfolds will have a big impact on whether a successful candidate ultimately decides whether to work for a company or not.

A recent survey by CareerPlug found that 58 per cent of job candidates said they had declined a job offer as a result of a poor hiring experience. And even future talent is at risk, considering 30 per cent of job candidates surveyed by Reed said they would not recommend a company to a friend after a negative application experience.

With the labour market as it is, employers can’t afford to allow their hiring experiences to let them down.


How can they go about making improvements?

For many job candidates, the length of the recruitment process is a big sticking point. The average time it takes to hire is now 43 days, according to Jobvite. In a climate where competition for top quality candidates is high, those who take too long risk missing out as applicants lose interest in the process and look elsewhere.

That’s why, according to documents leaked in April, Google is looking to speed up its recruitment process, which can famously last months.

Yet firms need to balance their desire to snap up candidates with the risk of hiring someone who is not right for the job. Bad hires are not only costly – for firms which handle sensitive information, they could be reputationally fatal.

A good solution is to swap a time-consuming interview for a psychometric or situation-based test, which a candidate can carry out at home at a time that suits them.

These tests will give firms a clear idea of a candidate’s logical thinking and reasoning ability, as well as an indication of their values. Interviewers can then use the results as a springboard for discussion if they make it through to the next stage.


Poor communication

Poor communication is another issue when it comes to hiring: jobseekers often complain they are not kept updated on their applications and how they’re progressing.

A simple automated message would be an easy win for recruiters, seeing as three quarters of jobseekers questioned by Reed said they expected to receive confirmation their job application had been received.

Meanwhile, using a tech portal to centralise communication and give applicants a quick and easy way to check their status is a welcome move, which also makes it convenient for candidates who need to upload ID or other documents.

Employers hiring for remote or even hybrid roles should be particularly sensitive to maintaining good communication with candidates. Potential hires set to work from home will want reassurance and evidence that the firm prioritises communication and has a strong company culture in the digital workplace.

Measures to keep jobseekers engaged are particularly important considering the practice of applicants ‘ghosting’ companies is on the rise, with 28 per cent of applicants admitting to doing this in 2021 compared to 18 per cent in 2019, an Indeed study found.


Background checks

Another obstacle in the road to a smooth recruitment journey has long been background checks. Yet with new automated options available which far outspeed traditional, analogue methods, this no longer needs to be the case.

In fact, the careful use of background checks can save employers time elsewhere by helping to weed out unsuitable candidates. While many firms will carry out standard checks looking at a potential hire’s criminal record or verifying their work history, fewer will run social media checks – looking at someone’s online activity to identify any questionable activity – or adverse media checks, to see whether they have ever attracted negative news coverage.

A worker starts forming an impression of an employer from the very moment their hiring journey begins. Ensuring the process is as frictionless and engaging as possible could make all the difference when it comes to plugging talent gaps.


Daniel Callaghan is CEO of Veremark, the global background checking and applicant screening platform. 





Daniel Callaghan is CEO of Veremark, the global background checking and applicant screening platform.