Recent figures for Randstad Financial and Professional services showed a 37% fall in the time taken to place permanent staff (43% for temporary staff) over the past three years.

"There's pressure to hire good candidates before they're snapped up elsewhere," says Randstad Financial and Professional business analyst Bevan Walters, "and we are seeing much more commitment to hiring than in the past few years, particularly when it is imperative a position is quickly filled for fear of losing the headcount.

"By the time we receive a role to fill, companies have now generally completed any internal due diligence and perhaps already trawled the market, while SMEs have flatter structures, which shorten the process."

During the downturn, and pressure on headcount costs, companies' determination to hire the 'right' candidate led to increases in the length of recruitment. In this employer-led market, companies could afford to be 'picky', consulting many levels of the organisation before taking recruitment decisions – e.g. up to five interviews for permanent roles in 2010-11.

"Basically companies are more confident today, and with the economy expected to continue improving the market is picking up rapidly and we expect recruitment demand to rise this year," adds Bevan Walters. 

Why does recruitment speed matter?

The CIPD's 2013 Resourcing and Talent Planning survey reports one-third of respondents losing potential candidates due to lengthy recruitment processes. 

"candidates feel a full recruitment process should take less than four weeks"

Research also reveals a mismatch between candidates' expectations and employers' behaviours: more than 75% of candidates feel a full recruitment process from application to offer should take less than four weeks, but three-quarters of hiring processes take longer and up to 25% take more than three months.

One survey found length of recruitment influences 84% of candidates' decisions to accept job offers, with 72% stating they would be "put off" by perceived slow responses.  

Lengthy recruitment procedures not only deter professional candidates, they will also talk about their poor experience, which damages employer brands. 

Increasing use of social media, professional networks, and employer review sites like and mean candidates easily gain access to – and contribute towards – information on employing organisations.

Expert and impartial advice on candidate attraction

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