Australia’s skills-short marketplace is currently creating tough competition among businesses looking to recruit the best talent. In fact, according to Robert Half research, 79% of Australian hiring managers say it is challenging to find qualified professionals compared to five years ago – an indication of today’s high-demand, low-supply employment environment.

When business success depends on building teams of skilled and highly talented professionals, companies need to act fast to secure their preferred candidates or they risk losing them to the competition. Slow hiring practices can bring a series of negative consequences for companies.

The impact on business performance

Delays in recruitment can not only damage a company’s reputation, but unfilled roles often have a direct impact on business productivity and revenue.

Job vacancies left unfilled for prolonged periods can place excess and unwelcome strain on existing teams because of increased workloads, knowledge gaps and skills shortfalls. At the same time, company revenue suffers when vacant roles lead to reduced sales, ineffective customer service experiences and poor performance through lack of project or team management.

Missing out on top candidates

Right now, Australian businesses are waging a “war for talent” in a job market that sees the average jobseeker applying for as many as 22 roles on the hunt for one new opportunity. Companies that find the most suitable candidates must act fast to onboard talent before they’re snapped up by the competition.

While a portion of jobseekers in the current market receive more than one job offer when looking for a new job, almost 63% have accepted another offer because they waited too long to hear about a preferred role.

The real cost of vacant roles

Job vacancies incur daily monetary costs, irrespective of whether those roles directly or indirectly generate revenue for the business. For example, while shortages of sales staff can lead to decreased sales, the time-to-market for revenue-generating products, services or enhancements could be impacted by the absence of project managers, developers or other support staff.

Meanwhile, unfilled positions can cause workforces to feel overworked with less resources, resulting in decreased motivation, lower morale and a potential increase in staff turnover.

Damage to company reputation

Today, jobseekers are far more likely to check out a company’s online reviews, via review platforms such as Glassdoor and Google reviews, before deciding whether to apply for a job. Prolonged recruitment practices have the potential to damage a company’s employer brand online with 43% of jobseekers saying they would consider writing a bad review about an employer if the hiring process took too long.

Furthermore, 53% say they would not recommend a company as an employer if they had not received a timely response about the status of their application for an advertised position.

The jobseekers’ perspective: First impressions count

When first impressions really count, it’s crucial for employers to deliver an exceptional experience to jobseekers which starts from the moment a candidate applies for a job, right through to the interview phase.

Recruitment processes that are fraught with lengthy delays and a lack of communication make the application process even more daunting for astute jobseekers. 53% of Australian jobseekers say slow feedback and lack of updates around the recruitment processes is their biggest frustration when applying for a role.

Solution: Streamlined hiring processes

While multi-stage interviews might be unavoidable, a company’s recruitment process needs to be balanced against the expectations and frustrations of the jobseekers themselves. Companies could well benefit from reviewing and, if necessary, streamlining their application and interview process to ensure that delays and other frustrations are not costing them the best candidates.