Applications: Post a job ad and go on vacation: Lame recruiting becomes a competitive disadvantage for companies
Dusseldorf Maren Möller* also thought that speed in the application process is a matter of course. Until she applied to Lufthansa Technik.
Even the first steps in the career portal felt like a digital hurdle for the expert in corporate development: input masks for the person, language skills and motivation, all distributed over six tabs. There were also three online tests and attachments were limited to ten megabytes.
When that is done, Möller receives an email from the maintenance specialist two days later. However, not with an invitation to an interview, but with the request to upload study and work references – although this was not a mandatory field when entering online.
A company spokesman explained it as follows when asked: Lufthansa Technik “expected a large number of applications” for the position. In order to be able to compare the candidates “as well and objectively as possible”, “a detailed query was chosen”. Möller’s bad experience is “of course taken very seriously in order to continuously improve our application process”.
A realization that comes too late in this specific case. Maren Möller found a job somewhere else just a short time later. Your current employer contacted you on the same day you applied and wanted to arrange an appointment for an interview. “The choice was easy for me,” says the 34-year-old.
Speed in recruiting: 15 percent already have a job somewhere else when they are accepted
Two applications from the same candidate – two completely different experiences. This shows that if you want to win the battle for the best talent, you have to be quick. But many companies are simply not like an evaluation of the job platform Stellenanzeige.de indicates.
According to this, 35 percent of the companies need four weeks or longer until they decide on a candidate. That’s too long for one in five applicants, and another 15 percent already have another job in their pocket during this time. A total of 824 candidates from different career levels took part in the survey.
“There is great digitization potential in German companies that can accelerate recruiting,” says Inga Dransfeld-Haase, President of the Federal Association of Personnel Managers. However, many companies have been working according to the same principle for decades: After the recruiter, the respective department reviews the applications. Only then will it be decided who will receive an invitation. That costs time, which companies don’t actually have in the competition for the best minds.
Duration of application: “Maximum four weeks, otherwise people go somewhere else”
The new hard currency in recruiting is “quite clearly speed”, agrees Philipp Riedel, Managing Director of the job agency Avantgarde Experts. Riedel has even recently turned his back on companies if he has the impression that they are too slow in recruiting. “It would take too long to really get these companies on track,” he says.
Before the corona pandemic, it was more like four to six weeks that applicants could fidget, says the expert. Now the companies have two, a maximum of four weeks – then “everything has to be wrapped up,” explains Riedel. “Otherwise people go somewhere else – in almost every industry.”
Germany’s applicant market has been running hot for months: the number of job advertisements has risen sharply in the past twelve months. In-demand candidates now receive twice as many inquiries from headhunters as before the pandemic. Parallel applications are also increasing in times of video interviews. As a result, candidates who are already in demand can pick out the best offer even more than before.
What pleases job seekers poses great challenges for German companies when it comes to attracting talent. Marius Luther is the founder and head of Heyjobs, an online job exchange for skilled workers with annual salaries of less than 70,000 euros. Nursing staff, truck drivers or call center agents – such jobs make up 80 percent of the job market, says Luther.
Recruiting in Germany: Advertise a job and go on vacation
Every two weeks, the 34-year-old asks companies that advertise on his portal: How was the response? What experiences have you done? Some of the answers paint a surprisingly battle-weary picture in the much-touted War for Talent.
There are companies that only invite applicants to interviews once a week because it’s easier to organize. Luther has also heard from HR managers who first advertised a position and then went on vacation for two weeks.
“I always explain that they can save money for the job advertisement that way,” says Luther. His experience: The eye of the needle is more likely to be the specialist departments and not the HR departments. “Most of the companies I speak to are stunned when I tell them recruiting isn’t about days, it’s about minutes.”
One company that understands this is Tesla. When the electric car manufacturer started looking for specialists for its Gigafactory in Grünheide near Berlin in 2020, one of the first vacancies was a recruiting position with an important additional description: “High Volume”.
>> Also read here: Intel, Tesla and CATL are investing billions in East Germany: Is this the new upswing?
Unlike regular recruiters, Tesla recruiters should be able to hire “a large number of employees in a short amount of time.” According to the job description, the applicants must be good at one thing above all: “roll up their sleeves and get things done quickly”.
Learn more about applying to Tesla
So far, Tesla has hired 4,000 people for its German location, and it is expected to increase to 12,000 by the end of the year. The US group itself is showing that this strategy can also take revenge: Just recently, boss Elon Musk announced by email that he would throw ten percent of the people at Tesla out the door. The reason is his “super bad feeling” about the global economy. After all: In Germany, so far, the fast-track procedure has continued.
“With high-volume recruiting, companies run the risk of not getting to know the applicants well enough,” says Avantgarde Experts boss Riedel, who himself recruits for various companies in the automotive industry. False expectations and fluctuation could be the result.
15 working days until the contract is signed – with 200,000 applicants
But what helps? One who knows about speed in recruiting is Eric De Jonge. The manager from the Netherlands is Germany head of the Manpower Group. The recruiter organizes the exchange of between 200,000 and 250,000 candidates via its recruiting system every year and is heavily data-driven.
It takes De Jonge’s team an average of 15 working days to recruit a project employee. The market is currently more competitive than ever, especially in logistics and IT. What he observes: Many job advertisements are overloaded and contain requirement profiles that can only come from an era when there were still enough skilled workers: “Are perfect German skills essential for all jobs?” asks De Jonge – and gives the answer himself: “That doesn’t make sense for many jobs.” It is more effective to realistically align the requirements with the task.
So his advice: first and foremost, massively streamline job advertisements. “In many cases, it also saves time to conduct a short preliminary interview in the process and then request the documents.” In addition, companies must learn to look at applicants in the same way as customers: “You can’t do that without service either.”
In fact, more and more companies are making mistakes in their job advertisements – and thus lowering the demands on applicants. “We see that once indispensable requirements such as academic degrees are becoming less important. The focus, on the other hand, is on work experience and explicit specialist knowledge, so that the new employees can also be used directly,” says Annina Hering, labor market economist at the job portal Indeed.
But there is a fine line between leaving out unnecessary additional qualifications and hiring unsuitable applicants. “The probability of wrong decisions in recruiting has definitely increased,” says Carlos Frischmuth, partner at the recruitment agency Hays. They can quickly become expensive: job advertisements, personnel service providers, contract preparation, onboarding – all of these are cost factors. However, the risk of having to pay extra is unavoidable for the company, says the consultant.
His thesis: “If there is a mismatch between the candidate and the company, this will be noticed less often in the application process and only during the probationary period.” It will become increasingly normal for candidates to “just start” in a company – and quickly leave if they don’t like the culture or the manager. Apparently, speed is not just the new hard currency in the working world before starting a job.
*Name changed by editors.
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