What’s the quickest way to a hiring manager’s heart? Saying those magic words: “I’m thrilled to accept this job offer.”
The immediate relief and excitement you feel when a great candidate finally seals the deal is one of the most rewarding parts of the hiring process. Of course, the opposite is true too; waiting on a candidate to make a decision or navigating the negotiation stage can be wearisome and long-winded. As an HR department, you want to make recruitment as smooth and effective as possible, which is why the time-to-hire metric is one of the most important measuring tools for you and your team.
The sooner you can hire someone, the better; after all, many companies need to fill a position sooner rather than later. You need a new customer service rep yesterday, not in 5 weeks! Forty-two percent of customers expect you to reply to their inquiries within an hour, so you don’t want to lose money or positive branding opportunities because you can’t fill a position. That’s why your organization’s time to hire is such a critical metric for your HR department to understand and analyze.
Your time to hire is going to give you a better understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your recruitment process so that you can make hiring at your company a valuable experience for everyone involved. Once you have a baseline to work with, you can get a better picture of your current level of efficiency and ultimately work on reducing time-to-hire timeframes, which is better for your business, your potential hires, and your brand.
Whether you’re a seasoned HR veteran with a lot of experience or a newcomer that has never even heard of time to hire, welcome! We’ll get you up to speed on what time to hire is, how it impacts your hiring process, and what you can do to get the best people in the right positions more efficiently.
What Is Time to Hire?
Time to hire is a recruitment metric used to measure the time (or the number of days) between a job candidate applying for a job and when that candidate accepts a job offer. During that period, there are several key stages for both the HR department and the candidate, and how well you maneuver through those stages is a solid indicator of your department’s proficiency and talent acquisition.
The steps during the time-to-hire period include:
- Talent sourcing and finding the most qualified candidates
- Screening both applicants and documents
- Shortlisting the most promising talent
- The interview process
- Making a decision on who you want to hire
- Formally submitting the job offer
- Negotiating salary, benefits, paid time off, and other concerns your candidate has
Measuring your time to hire can tell you a lot about your company and how successfully you can attract top talent using these different steps. Overall, you can improve both your recruitment efficiency and the experience that your potential hires have. More specifically, this metric can indicate:
- Where the bottlenecks are in your hiring process. Does it take your team an extra long time to sift through potential candidate applications? Maybe your interview process is a bit too involved. For others, it’s being able to attract applicants that are actually qualified for the position you’ve posted for. Whatever the case may be, the time to hire may shine a light on ineffective efforts your team is struggling with.
- How long it takes to hire someone. What is your company’s standard time-to-hire period? Does it change based on the job position? If it takes too long for your department to hire the right person, that may be a sign that you need to improve something internally.
- The experience your candidates have. When you’ve applied for a job, it can be miserable waiting to hear back from someone, especially if you’ve made it through an interview. Some research says that 23% of candidates will lose interest if they don’t hear back from an interview within the week! Poor time to hire can leave a bad impression on both those you don’t hire and those you do.
Now, to be clear, hiring amazing people is not easy, and it does take time! You don’t want to rush through the process just to mindlessly fill a role that can damage your company culture or business investments. It’s perfectly reasonable to take the necessary time and find the right candidate, but you still want to use that time wisely. This means that your procedures, systems, and tools need to be streamlined so you can make real progress when competitive candidates do come along.
How to Measure Time to Hire
Here comes the stuff you may not be as familiar with: how to actually measure your time to hire. It’s pretty easy and not as technical as it sounds…but here’s a formula you can use to “calculate” this metric.
Time to Hire = Day candidate accepted offer – day candidate entered the pipeline
So, just to reiterate, you use the date your candidate officially accepts the job offer and subtract the date your candidate “entered the pipeline,” which is typically when you received their application.
For example, let’s say you post your job listing on a hiring platform on June 15th, 2022. Then you receive a promising application on June 20th. Even if you don’t immediately start processing that application, that candidate has entered the pipeline as of the 20th. After you process the application, conduct interviews, etc., you decide to make an offer. You send out the offer email on July 9th, and after some negotiation, they accept the offer 3 days later on July 12th, 2022. If we use the formula, we would take July 12th, 2022 (the day the candidate accepted the offer) minus June 20th, 2022 (the day the candidate entered the pipeline), which means your time to hire is 22 days.
This is just one example of one hiring instance with a pretty decent turnaround time. To really look at your time-to-hire performance, it’s more useful to calculate your average time to hire. The time it takes to get someone hired varies a bit depending on the type of position you’re hiring for; certain positions may only take 20 days while others take closer to 50. Generally speaking, though, the average time to hire is about 41 days. Use the following formula to find your own average:
Average Time to Hire = (Time to hire 1 + Time to hire 2 +….) / Total number of job positions
So, let’s say at your relatively small company, you’ve hired 5 new hires in the past year. You’ve calculated your time to hire for each, and those numbers are 20, 33, 25, 43, and 39. Add all of those numbers together to get 160, and divide that number by 5 (the total number of job positions). Your average time to hire for that year was 32 days.
Time to Hire vs Time to Fill
One area where HR professionals get a little confused is distinguishing between time to hire and time to fill, which are two separate metrics. Here’s the key difference:
- Time to hire: how long from a candidate applying to accepting a job offer
- Time to fill: how long from HR posting a new position to filling that position
Time to fill is going to look at your recruitment process from the time you create a job opening to hiring someone. Time to hire focuses a bit more closely on the selection process and how efficient that process is. Take our previous example: if you posted the job on June 15th, 2022, then you would add those five days to your time-to-hire metric, meaning your time to fill would be 27 days.
Why is Time to Hire Important?
If you measure your time to hire, you can improve those processes and make hiring people a much more rewarding and productive experience. The longer hiring takes, the more money your company is losing because of the job vacancy—this can also lead to some severe burnout on your team when everyone is spread too thin. One survey showed that 29% of participants would not quit if their workload was decreased; which is extra important considering how quickly people will quit due to burnout.
A long hiring process may cause candidates to lose interest, which is the last thing you want. Even if a candidate has simply applied, it took time and energy to put together an application, and if it takes several weeks to ever hear back from a company, they’ll likely lose interest or go with a different offer. As a hiring manager, you don’t want to lose great talent because your hiring experience takes too long.
Time to hire impacts the candidate’s experience, too, and a bad experience can seriously damage your brand image. You don’t want to be one of those companies that people roast online because it took months to get back to them. Competitive talent will actually reject a job offer because their initial experience with the company was so ineffective and frustrating—they’re going to go with the company that knows what they’re doing so that their onboarding process and the rest of their experience are enjoyable.
How to Optimize Time to Hire
At this point, we hope you’re convinced that your time to hire matters, both to your company and to the employees you’re bringing on. We also know that hiring someone is no easy task and that everyone out there is doing their best. Here are some things you can try to add to your recruitment process to make everything and everyone more efficient.
- Track hiring velocity. Your hiring velocity demonstrates how long you spend on each step of the process. What is taking up the most time? How can you streamline each step? For example, if the screening phase is taking too long, you may need to redistribute time from a different phase and get more eyes on the applications.
- Invest in software to help track applicants. If a computer can do something just as well as a person, take a load off! Let technology do the heavy lifting and focus your efforts elsewhere.
- Automate resume screening. There is some amazing software out there that can take a resume and put together a succinct profile for you to check out, which can help you narrow down the most relevant applications much faster.
- Automate interview scheduling. Skip playing phone tag! Your candidates can easily sign up for a call when you use automated emails that sync up with your calendar and populate available times for interviews.
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