For the past 18 years, Tom Gimbel, a recruiter in Chicago, has helped thousands of people find jobs in accounting, finance and human resources. Lately, the process has been slowing down as candidates go through more interviews, more screenings, more tests.
“What’s really dragged it down quite a bit is technology,” said Mr. Gimbel, the founder and chief executive of the LaSalle Network. “So many companies are using technology portals and databases with their people.” They may be getting better hires out of the process, but they are definitely moving more slowly, he said.
The U.S. currently has 5.4 million job openings—the most since the current record-keeping system began in 2000—but the number of people getting hired has yet to fully recover from the recession, according to the Labor Department.
Two pieces of new research show that Mr. Gimbel’s anecdotal impression is correct: Across the economy, the time it takes to fill jobs is lengthening. The lethargic hiring process has prolonged the already-slow pace of labor-market healing that has beset the U.S. in the six years since the recession officially ended.
Stephen Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago, found that as of April the average job sat vacant for 27.3 days before being filled, nearly double the 15.3 days it took to fill a job in mid-2009. Mr. Davis’s research, published regularly as the DHI Hiring Indicators report, shows that the rise has occurred across industries, regions and firms of different sizes.
Part of the increase in vacancy owes to improvement in the economy. There are simply more openings and fewer candidates.
“Current labor-market conditions have made recruiting talent more challenging,” saidMichael Durney, president of DHI Group Inc., a career-website firm that has teamed up with Mr. Davis to produce his research on a monthly basis. “With several industries hovering around 2% unemployment, such as tech and financial services, hiring managers and recruiters are taking longer to fill open positions.”
But the slowdown isn’t purely because the economy has improved and there are fewer candidates. Even when qualified candidates apply for a job and ultimately get hired, the process companies use to get them through the door is slowing down.
A report released Thursday by Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist at career-research firm Glassdoor, said the average interview process in the U.S. took 22.9 days in 2014, up from just 12.6 days in 2010.
Mr. Chamberlain has a prime vantage point into what is happening. His firm collects reviews of employers from their employees. About 344,000 reviews have been submitted about the job-interview process, how long it takes and what steps there are.
Glassdoor’s findings are an example of how to harness big data for insights—hundreds of thousands of observations, but not a random sample. Yet the site is large enough to collect reviews across industries, regions and countries that tell a consistent story about what’s happening.
Screenings and background checks, in particular, have skyrocketed. In 2014, 42% of U.S. job candidates underwent some sort of background check, compared with just 25% in 2010. Last year 23% received a skills test, up from 16% five years ago. And 23% received a drug test, up from 13% in 2010.
The increase in the length of the job-interview process has occurred not only in the U.S., but in France, Germany, the U.K., Australia and Canada according to the report. That suggests that U.S. labor market or health-care regulations aren’t the primary culprit behind the increasing length of the hiring process.
Mr. Chamberlain’s theory is that as the economy shifts to more-skilled and less-routine jobs, the hiring process will naturally get more complicated.
Since 2001, all the net job growth in the U.S economy has come from nonroutine jobs, according to research from Henry Siu at the University of British Columbia and Nir Jaimovich of Duke University. In their classification system, routine jobs include rules-based tasks, such as factory workers, forklift operators, bookkeepers or secretaries. Nonroutine jobs include occupations from janitors and home health aides to computer programming or financial analysis.
“The growing use of skills tests and background checks could be a proxy to find high-skilled workers with good judgment,” Mr. Chamberlain said. “The jobs disappearing from the economy are routine, really simple jobs. The kind of jobs that are booming are jobs that take lots of judgment and creativity. They’re harder to hire for and so it takes longer.”
Article courtesy of Josh Zumbrun, Wall Street Journal
Posted on Friday Jun 19