All hiring managers have war stories about the perfect employee who  got away. Instead of calling that “once-in-a-million” applicant, maybe you were shoveling your snow-covered walkway, covering for an employee who called in sick, or you were home sick with the cold you got from shoveling the walkway.

But now it’s too late. And that surefire employee of the month is performing the Heimlich Maneuver on a customer at the competing restaurant across the street. Oh, she saved that customer’s life, made the 6 o’clock news and there’s a line out the door of her now famous workplace. As for your employees’ special talents, well, one new hire claims to be an amateur pet psyhic. Good luck with that…

It’s time to get faster and gain a recruiting edge on the competition.

Check out these five ways to hire workers faster:
  1. Add an attractive referral bonus
    Get your employees invested in your recruitment process and you’ll get fresh leads served up daily. If you’re unable to offer a monetary reward, get creative. Award first choice of shift selection or special employee discounts.
  2. Balance automation with a personal touch
    Applicants want to hear from you – even if you don’t plan on hiring them. (Remember, the same people who apply for your jobs are often your customers; you don’t want to leave a bad taste in their mouths that will spread virally across their social network.) Use automation to immediately confirm receipt of applications and perform background screening. That speedy approach willl give you ample time to personally contact leading candidates via phone and email before the competition can reach out and respond.
  3. Seal your sourcing cracks
    Are you capturing all your walk-in applicants consistently across all locations? Are online applications being sent to hiring managers without delay? Is there a waiting list of all-star applicants you can call in a pinch? Make sure you can answer “yes” to all these questions.
  4. Be flexible with compensation
    On the low end, hourly workers cost $2,000 to recruit, hire and ramp up. That’s a lot. You don’t need to be a math whiz to build a business case for giving a hot candidate 50 cents more an hourly rather than hiring a medicore candidate who will turn over faster than an experienced diner cook flips a silver dollar flapjack.
  5. Convert (or keep in contact with) seasonal employees
    Stud seasonal workers don’t need training or babysitters. Before they head back to college or south for the winter, let them know they’re welcome to return. And if you have an opening on Jan. 1, see if any temporary employees are interested in stick with you long term.

Try out these best practices and shave time off your hiring process. Remember, by hiring faster and with some help from the above best practices, you’re also hiring smarter and cheaper. And you can use that money to find someone else to shovel your sidewalk.