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Why Are Recruiters So Exhausted?


Being a recruiter these days is like working on an assembly line where two-thirds of your product blows up. You need to ratchet up production to meet output goals, but you have less support. How did we get here? Here are 5 reasons why it’s exhausting to be in talent acquisition right now:

1. Time-to-hire is 40% higher than pre-pandemic

Yes, Virginia, that means if it took you 42 days to fill a role in 2019, it takes 59 days now. This was reported in July 2023 by SHRM (Society of Human Resource Management). Time-to-hire (TTH) is the number of calendar days between a job requisition being approved and the candidate accepting the offer. For the professional services sector the current average is 47 days, with hard-to-fill roles averaging closer to 58 days. A source from our industry (healthcare marketing) places it closer to 70 days. 

Why is it taking longer? Take your pick: “Talent scarcity, skills shortages (especially in new/emerging roles, like AI), more selective job seekers looking for better pay and flexible work, and the large, lasting exodus of people from the workforce during the pandemic.”

Nadexa Group’s current TTH (measured from the day we were briefed on the role to offer acceptance) is 42 days.

2. 50% of candidates that accept an offer back out before starting 

A Gartner survey of nearly 3,500 candidates in May 2023 revealed that 50% of respondents accepted a job offer over a 12-month period but backed out prior to starting. Our last year metrics were slightly better: We closed 75% of all offers extended, but still, candidate drop-off means more work and longer time-to-hire.

3. Candidates are less responsive

Our response rates to InMail outreach have declined by 22% since the early days of LinkedIn. Our average InMail response rate YTD is 24%. (LinkedIn places current response rates between 18-25%). Lower response rates means talent acquisition professionals need to source more candidates and send out more emails (or texts or calls). Lever, a popular enterprise ATS (Applicant Tracking Software) reports that on average you need to source 72 candidates to make 1 hire. Email automation tools within ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) can help with this, but if not used judiciously they can lead to candidate email fatigue and earn you a permanent seat in their Spam folder. 

4. Complexity requires more time to fill searches

Roles have become more specialized and nuanced over the last decade. We have talked about the trend from generalists to specialists before on this blog and it’s no different in our industry. Whereas before you might send a “digital strategist” to several hiring teams, now each team requires a specific skills profile. For example, do you want a social strategist, CRM strategist, CX/omnichannel expert, connections planner, someone more quantitative, etc. This means that TA professionals should be handling less searches, but they’re not. Instead they’re being asked to take on more. One client said each of their recruiters handle ~14 searches at any given time. Meanwhile, LinkedIn says “talent acquisition professionals spend nearly 1/3 of their workweek (about 13 hours) sourcing candidates for a single role.” How do those numbers add up?

5. And finally, time kills all deals

If you manage to successfully navigate all those chutes and ladders to deliver the perfect candidate, there’s always the chance Finance might put the kibosh on your hire at the final hour. Part of the reason for this could be that job reqs aren’t properly vetted against business scopes in the first place. Also, the longer a role remains open, the more likely it is that the team will find a workaround, change the level, or lose funding. 

These are just a few of the reasons recruiting has become more challenging in recent years, and we haven’t touched on other factors like pay transparency, diversity recruiting, candidates holding out for remote/hybrid roles, etc. 

So what’s the solution?

We’re a resourceful bunch and there are many levers we can pull:

  • Strengthen employer branding and employee referral programs
  • Prioritize internal mobility and retention through talent development
  • Always be sourcing: Get hiring leaders involved in proactive sourcing and interviewing
  • Use ATS data to identify and address recruitment bottlenecks
  • Engage trusted search partners, like us!

Stay tuned for our future blog post on How to Fix Your Toughest Recruiting Challenges.

Here are some sources I used if you want to go deeper. Email me at if you’d like a PDF of the most pertinent stats from our research.

SHRM: Employers Across Industries Are Taking Longer to Hire

LinkedIn Top 100 Hiring Statistics for 2022

Gartner HR Survey May 2023

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