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Time-to-hire is now longer, but San Francisco's wait is epic

A competitive job market is increasing the time-to-hire for employers. While HR tech can speed some parts of the hiring process, it can't compete against multiple offers.

The time-to-hire new talent in both the public and private sectors is becoming increasingly lengthy, according to recent reports. Despite the improvements in HR technology designed to speed hiring, a competitive job market is slowing the process down.

The city of San Francisco's case is particularly striking. It takes the municipality 255 days to hire an individual -- a delay primarily attributed to the complexity of its hiring processes and the numerous vacant positions, such as HR analysts, integral to the city's recruitment activities. The finding came from a report published this month by a Civil Grand Jury, an oversight panel of volunteers, that examined the city's chronic hiring delays. The city is also grappling with competition from private sector companies that can hire faster.

Nonetheless, even the private sector is not exempt from the overall trend. Time-to-hire timelines are lengthening partly due to the persistently competitive job market. Data from a Gartner survey of 289 frontline recruiters indicated that the time-to-hire has expanded to a median of 64 days, marking a 12-day increase since 2018.

Similarly, a report from the Josh Bersin Co. -- using data from AMS, a London-based talent provider -- analyzed data from 300,000 hires and found that the average hiring duration now stands at 44 days, a single-day increase from the previous year's statistics.

Despite the different time frames and methodologies employed by these two studies, researchers concurred on the primary driver of this trend: a job market presenting an array of opportunities to job seekers.

Jamie Kohn, senior research director in Gartner's HR practice, pointed out that more than 70% of candidates receive multiple job offers.

With application volumes declining, "recruiters have to spend a lot more time now going out and searching for candidates and reaching out to them," Kohn said.

The slowdowns come in "finding candidates in the first place since the labor market has been so competitive," Kohn said. Coordinating schedules for multiple interviews can be a challenge, contributing to the delay, she said.

HR tech meets low unemployment

It's kind of like a race between AI making it easier to find people and job seekers getting more rare and picky about where they work.
Josh BersinFounder, The Josh Bersin Co.

Although vendors have been improving the technology used to source and sort candidates as well as manage some of the communications and scheduling, Kohn said the state of the labor market is still the biggest problem.

Josh Bersin, founder of the Josh Bersin Co., said the real issue with the time-to-hire "is that the job market is very competitive, and we believe the low unemployment rate is going to continue for many years to come."

He added, "It's kind of like a race between AI making it easier to find people and job seekers getting more rare and picky about where they work."

Nevertheless Bersin said a promising development is a shift to skills-based hiring practices, which includes eliminating the prerequisite of a college degree. This strategy lubricates the job market, making hiring easier and reducing unemployment.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget Editorial. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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