How Employers Are Wasting Time And Money To Recruit New Hires

A new survey finds that communication channels are broken or unused as resources are invested elsewhere.

How Employers Are Wasting Time And Money To Recruit New Hires
[Photo: Flickr user Frank Boston]

It’s a jobseekers’ market, thanks to the confluence of low unemployment and company growth across industries. With over 100 occupations in the U.S. currently posting more jobs than actual hires month over month, according to CareerBuilder, the war for talent is on.


So you would think employers would be scrambling to figure out the best ways to lure talent, especially considering that millennials who will make up 75% of the workforce in the next decade are itching for their next career opportunity. Deloitte found that 44% of millennials say, if given the choice, they would like to leave their current employers in the next two years.

Unfortunately, employers aren’t quite stepping up according to the findings in the latest Candidate Experience report from the Talent Board, a nonprofit research organization for the recruiting industry.

The report suggests that while the majority of organizations are investing in better talent acquisition strategies, such as using social media like LinkedIn to better engage candidates, the researchers say, “In some cases, they are ignoring the most basic aspect of engaging talent–consistent communication.”

This trend was one of several important takeaways to come out of 2015’s annual survey, in which the Talent Board analyzed data from more than 100,000 people who applied for jobs at 185 North American companies, including many of whom weren’t ultimately hired.

Although most companies send an immediate “thank you” to the candidate when they receive an application, only 40% of recruiters respond at all. This may be due to the number of applications–an average of 200 per job opening, according to the report. Nearly half of candidates say they never got an application status update, or were told why the employer asked for information on gender, race, and ethnicity. Nor did the employer offer the option to save their application for a later date.

This is in spite of the fact that companies have multiple ways to engage and communicate with candidates. Seventy-six percent of candidates do their own research before applying, including looking on companies’ websites. Fifty-five percent of job hunters also reported already having a relationship with the company they’d like to work for, either as an existing customer, through an internship, etc. Both suggest that companies could leverage those connections, either through technology (data tracking, loyalty programs) or through personal outreach, but they aren’t.


Instead, they are spending time, money, and other resources on tactics that aren’t necessarily netting the best candidates. Among the more wasteful practices from the report:

Using job boards: Even though candidates are relying less on job boards, organizations have increased their investment in this sourcing tool from 37% in 2014 to 45% in 2015.

Sourcing ahead of need: Eighty-eight percent of employers are allowing more applicants to complete the application even after they fail screening questions.

Not asking about job-specific skills: While over 80% of candidates answer general screening questions during the application process, only 50% are asked for job-specific skills, and less than one-third are asked to take assessments.

Another place employers are investing in is mobile. In 2013, Fast Company reported that over 10 million workers searched for jobs on their mobile devices, and 31% of Google searches for “jobs” also came from mobile, making recruiters stand up and take notice.

But searching and actually following through with an application on the phone are totally different things. According to the Talent Board, 69.2% of employers had a mobile-enabled recruiting system, and the rest were considering it, up from 68.6% in 2014.


The disconnect? Out of the 20,614 candidates surveyed who were asked if they used a mobile device to apply for a job, only 10.1% of them said they had.

Cleaning up their channels and communicating more effectively could help recruiters and hiring managers in the coming year. Currently, despite best practices and concerted efforts, as many as 95% of companies admit to recruiting the wrong people each year, according to research commissioned by Glassdoor from management consultancy the Brandon Hall Group. What’s more, over a third of organizations reported being unaware of how costly that mistake can be.

In the hiring phase alone, taking into account the cost of advertisements and recruiters, combined with the cost of technology and the interview process itself, employers can spend anywhere from nearly $750 for an entry-level hire to almost $3,800 for an executive placement, according to the Brandon Hall research. Factor in the business metric of giving the job to the wrong person in terms of productivity, performance, and team morale, and it adds up to a very costly mistake that can be avoided if the right measures are taken up front.

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About the author

Lydia Dishman is a reporter writing about the intersection of tech, leadership, and innovation. She is a regular contributor to Fast Company and has written for CBS Moneywatch, Fortune, The Guardian, Popular Science, and the New York Times, among others.