Measuring and improving your time to hire metric

March 10, 2021
Measuring and improving your time to hire metric

There are so many HR metrics you could theoretically try to track. But not all of them are particularly useful – at least, not to every single business. The time to hire metric is one of the exceptions, however. I believe it is a useful calculation to include as part of your overall HR strategy, and one of the numbers you should try to improve. 

Why time to hire matters 

If you want the best shot at hiring the most talented employees, then time to hire is one of your most important HR metrics. In our 10 tips to help you hire shining stars, we mention that when it comes to hiring talented people, first mover advantage is crucial. 

All too often, employers lose top quality candidates to their competitors, for no other reason than moving too slowly. After all, being offered a job elsewhere is one of the top 10 reasons people turn down job offers. 

Having a faster time to hire on average, could give you a competitive advantage over other organisations trying to fill similar roles. But what is a good time to hire average, and how is it calculated? 

Time to hire VS time to fill 

Before we start looking at the metrics themselves, I’d like to clarify what time to hire actually is. Because there’s quite a lot of confusion out there, with people often using terms like “time to hire” and “time to fill” interchangeably.  

The two terms are actually quite different fettles of kish, and so I want to outline what each means. 

Time to fill is the time it takes for you to hire a new employee, starting from the moment you publish your job vacancy.  

Time to hire is the time it takes for you to hire a new employee, starting from the moment that vacancy appears – in other words, it includes the time it takes for you to fill out a job specification and put out adverts. 

In terms of first mover’s advantage, time to fill is certainly the most important HR metric here. But as there are other factors at play – such as the cost of lost productivity, or even just lost opportunity, whilst ever your vacancy exists – I’m going to focus on the full “time to hire” metric. 

What’s a good time to hire metric? 

The best time to hire metric, is naturally, as short as possible, without compromising on quality of process. But if we’re thinking specifically about trying to gain first mover’s advantage, then it can help to look at a few industry benchmarks. That way, we know what we’re up against, if we want to aim to move faster than our competitors. 

Workable actually has some statistics to help us here – their system has processed millions of candidates, and Workable has published anonymised data off the back of that.  

According to Workable, if we split the average time to hire by the type of vacancy, we get the following results: 

Accounting/finance: 29 days 

Construction: 28 days 

Consulting: 25 days 

Creative: 19 days 

Education: 24 days 

Healthcare: 28 days 

Hospitality: 22 days 

IT: 30 days 

Legal: 32 days 

Logistics: 12 days 

Manufacturing: 30 days 

Retail: 21 days 

Recruiting: 18 days

 Travel: 33 days 

Anything that didn’t fit into one of these categories, was lumped together and averaged out at 25 days. 

Of course, you should bear in mind that these are global averages, and certainly not hard or fast rules. You may find that you live in a country where the average is higher or lower, due to the legislation surrounding a particular type of role. Or you may find that the role you’re hiring for is particularly technical, and extra challenging. 

But a nice rule to consider, in the back of your mind, could be that if you’re taking more than 30 days to hire for a vacancy, then you might be a little on the slow side. 

Ways to improve your time to hire average 

There’s plenty you can do to improve your time to hire score. Here are a few tips to get you going: 

  • Create an attractive job advert – it will take you longer to find the perfect match if they’re not interested in applying to begin with 
  • Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – this makes your recruitment process smoother, and decision-making clearer 
  • Remove unnecessary barriers to entry – if you have too many forms to click through, and pages to navigate, candidates may become demotivated to complete their application quickly, or even just give up altogether 

Important note: Removing unnecessary barriers to entry does NOT mean removing ALL barriers to entry. Some screening processes are essential for qualifying out candidates who might not be right for the role – and if your application process allows a total free for all, you may end up with more mess to sort out than you bargained for. And that in itself can massively slow down your time to hire. 

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