By Gillian Hasley, eBusiness Manager, Monster UKIE

Time is an important factor in recruitment. For every day you're without an employee you could be causing a knock on effect across the business.

When a business is understaffed, it's not just the department with the vacancy that is affected. For example, if you're without a key member of staff within your IT department, not only does that mean others in that team have to work harder, it might mean that there is a delay in repairing the computer of a sales person which directly results in them losing a lucrative sale.

It's a simple example, but it shows the importance of your cog in the overall mechanics of the business.

Be prepared

It's an old saying, but one which is almost always the case; If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Reducing the time to hire is all about making sure you're ready to move when the need for recruitment arises.

Analysing employment trends within your company and industry is a vital part of the planning stage. When are your key sales periods where you will need more people in retail stores? When are your end of year accounts due, meaning you will need more help in the finance department?

Even a day can make a huge difference so aim to have a stash of resources which you can instantly take from as soon as the need arises. For example, you should have a job description for every single person within your organisation right from the office junior through to your high level directors. You should be able (at least in theory) to be advertising for a vacant role within 24 hours.

Other departments have disaster recovery plans and the HR team should be no different. If you suddenly lost the top five members of your sales team to a competitor, what would you do?

There are generally three types of roles you will apply for in your business:

- High churn role — Generally the lowest time to hire, but the most frequently advertised. The benefit of high churn roles is that you regularly get the opportunity to test new techniques to fine tune your hiring methods. This is the group of candidates that your ongoing recruitment campaign should be targeting. There are many instances where companies run recruitment campaigns even when they have no vacancies.

- Medium churn roles — These are the roles which come up less frequently for more integral parts of your business. This could be a mid-level manager who leaves their subordinates with nobody to report to, or a specialist employee who has a unique skill set. The best way to reduce time to hire with these positions is to build a talent pool which you can contact when the time comes. Combining this with a highly targeted online recruitment campaign should bring you a good crop of candidates to select from.

- Low churn roles — For long term strategic roles which are much less frequently recruited for, it's less important for you to fill the role quickly and more important to find the right person. However, there are still some things you can do to help push the process along. Head-hunters generally work on commission only and you should be able to get regular reports on who in the industry may be ready to make a move so when the time comes you know the best people out there to fill the departing shoes.

A smooth process

Finding candidates is one thing, but speeding up the process of interviewing and decision making is just as important.

Before you plan a recruitment campaign, get everyone involved together to work out a timeframe that you can agree to. Work out exactly who needs to be involved at every stage, and what time they have available. Remind them how important this process is in getting the right employee and that even putting aside a couple of hours to review CVs would be a great help.

Allocate time for interviews and stick to them as strictly as you possibly can. As you get closer to the final decision, you generally need to speak to people higher up in the organisation. Unfortunately these are often the people with the least time on their hands!

Be understanding with the various people involved in the recruitment process, but also let them know the importance of running a smooth hiring process.

Temporary workers are often the saving grace of businesses and their value shouldn't be overlooked. Rather than hiring a new employee who isn't right for your business, it's often better to take on a contract worker until the right permanent employee become available. Although the short term costs may be more, they far outweigh the costs of making a bad hire.

Internal recruitment is your other option for filling a position quickly, although remember that shifting an employee into a new role will only open up a gap elsewhere.

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