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Sorry to be a downer, but just-in-time hiring is dead. Correction: it’s a talent acquisition strategy still alive and well in many organizations, but job-led, transactional hiring is not giving companies the results that it once did. It looks something like this:

  • Sourcing candidates from scratch every time a new req opens
  • Sending every interested candidate lead directly to apply (which means directly to the ATS), without learning more about them – and without giving them the chance to learn more about you
  • Relying on third-party resources to find names and resumes instead of building relationships with candidates in your own
  • Focusing solely on your career site as a transaction for conversion, when in reality, candidates use 12-18 touchpoints in their decision-making process
  • Marketing your jobs as your golden ticket, when it’s really your brand and purpose


Sound familiar? Well, consider those tactics obsolete. Kaput. With the convergence of major shifts in the labor market over the last few years, hiring is much more complex and will get even harder in the near future. Look at what you’re up against:

  • Baby boomers retiring at a drastic rate
  • 5-6 million open jobs, but less available skilled talent
  • Shortening retention: millennials seek new opportunities every 2 years
  • Different expectations around when, how and where people work

It’s a lot, and with these trends working against you, just-in-time won’t allow you the agility to get ahead of your competition. On top of the market changing – candidates are changing. They want to learn more about organizations through more diverse resources before they decide to apply, and they want valuable, purposeful information. Case in point: 74% of candidates who start your application drop off before they complete it. That means only 26% make it into your ATS! More importantly, it means that you’re missing an opportunity to introduce your brand to and build a relationship with the other three-fourths.

If you don’t give that talent an opportunity to consistently learn more about your organization (through say, providing a talent network call to action), it’s likely they will move onto another career site, another Twitter handle or another Fast Company article touting another organization’s people, projects and successes. And if that company has a way to future-proof its recruiting, to think ahead to capture the talent that’s interested now, but just not yet ready to make the leap – it’s going to win that talent in the long-term.


If not just-in-time, then what? Right-time hiring that is: Brand-led. Relationship-based. Insight-driven. The companies that provide purpose, understand the full-picture of the candidate journey (and decision-making process) and start building relationships earlier to find the right talent for the right role win. Consider these shifts:

Job-led to Brand-led: How much does the simple job req Sales Manager, Software Engineer or Operations Director differ from company to company? You’re not selling a job title; you’re selling a brand, a purpose and a future. That’s the heart of talent acquisition.

Transaction-based to Relationship-based: Post a req, offer an apply now button and send another person to the ATS. Where’s the learning there? Meet candidates earlier. Invite them into your realm before they apply. Build a relationship by communicating what they want, and in turn, learn more about them to hire for a better fit and build a stronger brand advocate.

Guesswork to Insight-driven: Hires are golden. A new hire moves your data in a positive direction. But can you determine insight from that hire? Can you determine what to do next, if that hire will stay and if they were worth the cost? Do you know the entire path to making that hire and how you can repeat it? Data points are just data. Insights are what you do next based on the data you get to drive consistent and predictably better performance.  


It’s a big task. It’s a big shift. And change is scary. But in the current labor market, one in which you’re figuring out how to entice and keep millennials, vying for top talent that already has a great position, figuring out how differentiate yourself to build interest and demand, learning how to reach veterans or students … just-in-time is scarier.

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