Why recruitment takes so long

Job hunting takes longer than you think.

Being aware and understanding the whole recruitment and selection process is an essential aspect of successful job hunting. If you want to play the game to win, you need to understand the rules of the game. 

It’s also essential to understand the recruitment and selection process from the other players’ points of view. Here are some questions you can ask yourself and others to gain more insight into the role you want to apply for:

  • Why was this role advertised?
  • What is the organization trying to achieve by creating this new role or seeking a new person for this role?
  • What does it mean for the organization to invest time, money, and resources to advertise this job position?

Once you listen to this episode, you will understand the selection process in a very complete and accurate way, not just from the candidate’s perspective. My goal is for you to have the confidence and the sense of control to know what’s going on the other side of the field when you’re planning to apply for jobs in the future.

Let’s break the entire process down to straightforward actions and go through it in detail. 

Two ways job vacancies are created.

There are two ways that job vacancies are created. First, companies advertise an existing position that is vacant. A vacancy can occur when somebody:

  • resigns,
  • has to be absent from the job for an extended period of time (for example, maternity leave), or
  • has been was terminated (i.e., fired).

Depending on how bureaucratic the organization is, it can take a long time for that role to be advertised again. 

The second reason for a job advertisement is when a new role is created. The organization’s budget approval for a new role can be quite time-consuming if it is complex, big, and bureaucratic.

As you can imagine, there is a lot at stake, both when there is a vacancy of an existing role or a new role. 

Two ways a job vacancy is filled.

The first way a job vacancy is filled is through internal promotion. Succession planning is a big part of organizational and professional development. There could be professionals internally who are keen to apply for that role or who are being groomed for that role by their managers.

However, many times there are no internal candidates. There may also be a need to advertise the job externally because the organization’s policies and procedures require that jobs be advertised. Or the decision-makers want to make sure that the very best candidate for that role is the one that gets the position, so they advertise both internally and externally. This way, they can compare and contrast the internal and external candidates and hire the best fit for the role. 

Therefore, the second way a job vacancy is filled is externally through a job advertised publicly. External candidates can be completely unknown to the organization, or they may come through via a referral. That means that the candidate is known to someone that works in the organization. In fact, there are incentives for company staff to identify and refer good candidates for externally advertised jobs. 

Two ways a job vacancy is advertised.

If it’s decided that a job will be advertised externally, it can be done:

  1. In-house: The manager or HR handles the process. They develop the job advertisement, and they develop the position. The position description is possibly already developed and approved by them, but the job ad is done. They will then go to platforms like LinkedIn or Seek or Indeed or other platforms. They will then buy space on those platforms, sometimes pay for specific ads and advertise.
  2. Through a recruitment agency to support the manager and the HR team with initial recruitment stages because that can be very time-consuming.

If it’s a senior role, they may have to outsource this to a search company. Those are what we call headhunters or search professionals. They are often specialized in specific sectors and are experts in helping organizations find senior executives for their top roles. Sometimes search companies won’t even advertise. They will look within their pool of candidates and their networks. 

What happens before you see the job advertisement?

Depending on the organization, a job ad can be drafted, finalized, and reach the internet in a matter of hours. For example, in a small and agile organization that works flexibly, a new job can be advertised a few hours later when a position is made vacant. On the other hand, in a large organization, the job description and job advertisement need to undergo an extensive approval process that can be very lengthy. It can takes days, weeks, and even months before a job ad actually reaching the market. In fact, that has been my experience when managing teams and trying to fill vacancies in my departments when I worked in the public and nonprofit sectors. Even in the corporate sector, the approval process for a position description, job advertisement, and request to advertise a new or existing job can take months. 

Why so many delays? New job advertisements may need to be cross-checked to see if it is really required. HR may want to check if there are internal candidates that may transition into the role. The organization may also have affirmative action programs, which means they may work with partners to identify candidates from minority groups before advertising more widely. These are critical HR policies and procedures that need to take place. For example, if a large organization has a subsidiary going through a restructure, they may consider making staff redundant. Some staff may transition into vacant roles, saving jobs and saving money for the organization. From an HR perspective, if job vacancies happen, they need to consider: “Are there existing staff on the bench that could transition into these roles?”

As you can tell, creating a new job or advertising a job vacancy can be very time-consuming, taking a lot of human resources until it finally reaches you, the job candidate, like a job you see advertised online. 

Three types of job advertisements.

Now let’s look at how job ads are posted online in LinkedIn, Seek (Australia only), Indeed, and the company’s website. Today, most job candidates look for jobs on large platforms such as LinkedIn, Indeed, or Seek (Australia only).  But job ads are also shared on personal and company social profiles. 

For example, let’s say Ericson Australia has a LinkedIn profile. If a position is made available, the organizations would likely write a job ad on LinkedIn. It’s also very likely that the Ericsson Australia staff who either work closely with the role advertised or work in HR would write LinkedIn posts so that their connections would see the job ad and know that they are hiring. This amplifies the job ad’s reach and the ability to bring in high-quality job candidates for the role. 

If the organization decides to outsource part of the recruitment and selection to a recruitment agency or an executive search company, those organizations also have LinkedIn pages, and their recruiters have personal profiles. They will all be posting and promoting on LinkedIn because it’s in their best interest to promote their client assignment as widely as possible.

Depending on your sector and country, other platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram can be an avenue to identifying good job opportunities. Like on LinkedIn, companies may have both personal and company accounts in these platforms and use them to promote the job vacancy to their followers, friends, and members of groups they belong to on Facebook. I have seen more and more jobs being advertised on Facebook groups lately. 

Job vacancies are also shared on special job boards, such as the ones managed by industry and professional associations, chambers of commerce, and special interests. I really liked special boards to search for job opportunities. I think that employers that take that step further into identifying the best job boards for the jobs that they are advertising are employers that are looking for the very best candidates.  If they take the time to find those special job boards, they will give higher importance to the candidates that come through those boards. I believe that if you apply through those job boards, you will be perceived as a higher-quality candidate. As a former recruiter and manager, I used boards like that, which was my perception and experience. In Australia, examples of boards like that are the ones organized by Probono.com.au, Ethical Jobs, and job boards organized by universities for their alumni. Professional and industry associations also tend to have great job boards. So if you are a member of a professional association, check if they have a job board for members. They tend to be of outstanding quality. 

Summary and extra tips for job hunters.

In this blog and on the podcast episode, we went through what’s happening behind the scenes at organizations when hiring decisions are made. Armed with this knowledge, you can now find solutions and plan on how to get noticed for promotion and job opportunities. Job hunting is not just about going to LinkedIn job advertisements and applying randomly and in high numbers. You will get through to the rounds of the recruitment and selection process and ultimately get the role if you remember how the opportunities came about in the first place to better position yourself for the role.

  • You need to be highly networked internally within your organization to know that job vacancies are available, when new positions are being designed, and when internal candidates are being considered.
  • It would be best if you were ready to apply once those jobs are out there. 
  • If you’re applying on public job boards, such as LinkedIn, you apply at the tail end of the process. You need to be patient and interested and have a very high-quality application to stand out because everybody’s already excited and ready for whoever is the best candidate to start as soon as possible.

So now you’ve learned how the selection process unfolds. And you can then now empathize with the team running it and understand all the different players, and all of the different aspects of a great process and a very complex process happening and how you are one piece of that puzzle. 

I hope you found it useful learning about the recruitment and selection process, from start to finish. In my experience, once job hunters know the challenge and complexity of hiring new professionals, they become more mindful, empathetic, and switched on to the employers’ and recruiters’ needs.

This article was originally published on the The Job Hunting Podcast Blog.

Renata Bernarde

Renata is the Host of The Job Hunting Podcast, a career coach, and the founder of the Job Hunting Made Simple program. She teaches corporate, non-profit, and public professionals the steps and frameworks to help them find great jobs, change, and advance their careers with confidence and less stress.

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