3 reasons why traditional hiring is broken

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Carrie Morris
April 5, 2021

Part I

In my role at Simplicity Consulting, I help hiring managers understand how to think about talent and how best to reach their business goals. And while each manager, team, and organization are unique, the downsides of the traditional hiring process are painfully universal.

It boils down to this: Traditional hiring is broken and here’s why.

Join me in the second part of this two part series where I share my ideas on how to fix it.

Do any of these sound familiar?

Need: You need to fill an open role - now.
Real talk: Traditional hiring is too slow ... and expensive.

Whether you need to fill a role that’s been vacant for far too long or add headcount to quickly pivot, traditional hiring—that is, hiring full- or part-time salaried employees—isn’t synonymous with speed … or cost savings.

LinkedIn 1 reports that only 30 percent of companies fill a vacant role within 30 days, and even then, it can take one to four months to process a new hire.

The opportunity cost of waiting to hire the “perfect” person is enormous. It costs 213 percent of an annual salary to replace a highly skilled employee, estimates Jack Altman, CEO of performance management company Lattice, in HuffPo. 2 Many hiring managers search for months for an elusive unicorn, only to have that unicorn leave for greener pastures in a year or two. 

Plus, it’s expensive. The true costs of hiring a full-time employee often outweigh those of an external on-demand expert.

As illustrated by Toptal's real employee cost calculator 3, an employee’s lower hourly rate exceeds a consultant’s higher rate once you factor indirect costs like benefits and taxes and a lengthy list of indirect overhead costs.

Annual compensation figures of traditional hiring vs. consultants. The total annual cost for employees is $190,403, and the total cost of consultants is $174,720.
Toptal’s real employee cost calculator shows the true cost comparison of a consultant billing $70/hr and a full-time employee earning $46/hr. Once direct and indirect costs are considered, the employee costs more to the company, despite a significantly lower hourly rate. (Source: Toptal)

It’s no wonder, then, that 83 percent of Fortune 500 executives tell McKinsey that they do not trust the effectiveness of their own hiring processes.4

Need: Your employee is going out on parental leave, and there’s no way you can survive without them.
Real talk: Traditional hiring focuses on the long game.

Traditional hiring doesn’t readily accommodate short-term headcount needs—something many employers learned the hard way during the pandemic. Coverage for an unexpected absence or few-month-long leave requires agility and speed. It demands a hiring model that breaks success into bite-sized chunks, not one grounded in the fading myth of employee retention.

All that assuming your employee returns: The impact of turnover is another challenge entirely.

Need: You need to quickly scale your team for an upcoming product launch, but won’t need the added headcount after the release.
Real talk: Traditional hiring is inflexible.

We already established that traditional hiring takes time (more than 30 days for 70 percent of companies, plus one to four months of processing), putting it at odds with today’s ever-increasing speed of business.

When you need to quickly build an on-demand team, the months required to source, screen, interview, hire, and onboard new employees will only hamper innovation and agility.

While traditional hiring has some serious limitations, there are alternatives that will help you overcome the costly and timely obstacles. In my next article, I will share a new hiring strategy that will keep you and your team thrive in this new world of work. Until then, please reach out to me with questions or an early look at this new approach.

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  1. LinkedIn Talent Solutions' Global Recruiting Trends
  2. Jack Altman, CEO of performance management company Lattice, in HuffPo.
  3. TopTal’s real employee cost calculator
  4. Modern Hire’s How to Fix a Broken Hiring Process