Employers looking for the best talent can't afford to move at their own pace during the hiring process, a new study finds.

Research from Top Echelon Network, a recruiter network of specialized search firms, found that the No. 1 reason candidates turn down a job offer is that the hiring company didn't move quickly enough. Nearly 40 percent of those surveyed have rejected a job offer because they received an offer from another company before the other employer finished the hiring process.

Matt Deutsch, chief content officer for Top Echelon, said the survey shows that companies are not acting quickly enough to secure the talent they want to hire.

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"Superstar candidates — those who have the potential to make a significant impact — are receiving multiple offers," Deutsch said. "That's the rule, not the exception, regardless of what's happening in the economy overall."

Other reasons why candidates decide to pass on job offers include the following: the offer isn't attractive enough, they're unable to sell their house and relocate or their spouse talks them out of it. Deutsch said that, with the job market really heating up, it's up to employers to act with urgency and decisiveness during the recruiting and hiring process, or they risk losing out on the candidates they want to hire most. He said extending an offer of employment is no guarantee that the offer will be accepted, especially if the candidate is receiving several proposals.

"As candidates in certain industries and niches become more and more sought after, this is a trend that's going to continue," Deutsch said. "Only the companies that adjust their mind-set and their practices are going to hire the best talent available.”

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