Many companies are taking too long to hire. And that’s one of the biggest mistakes employers can make in 2021.

Job candidates are apt to move on if they’re left waiting. In fact, in a new Robert Half survey, 62% of professionals said they lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back from the employer within two weeks — or 10 business days — after the initial interview. That number rises to 77% if there is no status update within three weeks.

Struggling to secure top candidates? Check out these tips for streamlining your hiring process:

Fine-tune the job description

Make sure your job description that drives the job posting is current and accurately reflects the skills needed for the position. If it doesn’t, you’ll likely end up having to sort through resumes from applicants who fall short of your requirements, thus prolonging the hiring process.

Do as much as you can in advance

Get all your hiring ducks in a row internally before you begin recruiting. For example:

  • Make sure you have all approvals (and required paperwork) to staff the job.
  • Understand who needs to interview and sign off on the hire. Check in with these stakeholders before you schedule interviews to ensure they’re available and keep them updated throughout the process.
  • Set your compensation range so you can make an offer ASAP. Know how much wiggle room there is in case the candidate requests a higher salary or additional perks and benefits.

Once interviews are completed, push stakeholders to make a decision, explaining the costs of not moving quickly.

Stay in touch with top candidates

Keeping in close contact with leading candidates will reinforce your interest in bringing them aboard. Be as transparent as possible. Let them know you haven’t forgotten about them and be clear about next steps. In addition, ask if they have questions that arose after the interview.

Recognize that the perfect candidate may not exist

Many managers make it harder on themselves (and their teams) when hiring. Rather than extending offers to highly skilled professionals when they find them, they opt to hold out for idealized candidates who check every single box. This doesn’t mean you should “settle” but recognize that searching for that elusive “perfect candidate” may be futile. Bottom line: Don’t chase unicorns.

Get expert staffing assistance

A recruiting firm such as Robert Half can help you more quickly pinpoint skilled talent. Well-connected recruiters often have a broad network of strong candidates — many who are available to start right away — and can help expedite the hiring process and ensure you get a great employee or consultant the first time around.

By streamlining the hiring process and working with a recruiter, you can avoid making one of the costliest hiring mistakes today: taking too long to hire and losing appealing job candidates to more agile competitors.