6 Ways To Reduce Your Average Time To Hire

Clock and post-it notes leaning up against a wall reading "Time to Hire"

Average time to hire is one of the most important recruiting metrics for driving organizational performance and lowering recruiting costs. While it can be tricky to measure, investing the time to do so can yield eye-opening insights about your overall recruitment process and its individual components.

The longer a position sits vacant, the more it costs your company to hire for that position and the more revenue you lose due to reduced productivity. So, it stands to reason that reducing time to hire should be a key goal of your talent acquisition team. Read on to learn more about average time to hire, how its impacts stretch beyond recruiting and how you can effectively take steps to lower it in the year ahead.

What Is Time to Hire and Why Does It Matter?

Time to hire is a key performance indicator that measures the total amount of time between when a candidate enters your talent pipeline and when they accept an offer. So, if a candidate submits an application on July 1 and accepts your offer on July 25, the time to hire for that candidate is 24 days (which is considerably faster than the national average, by the way).

Note that time to hire is different from time to fill, which measures how long a position is vacant before a hire is made. A position might be vacant for several weeks before the winning candidate applies, which means average time to fill is typically a bit longer than average time to hire. Whereas time to fill focuses on the position itself, time to hire focuses on the specific candidate.

So why is reducing time to hire a good idea? Taking too long to hire can be detrimental in a number of ways:

  • It increases your average cost per hire, as expenses like recruitment marketing and job board fees mount with each passing week
  • It costs the organization in the form of lost productivity from a position sitting vacant without a worker
  • It can cause you to lose top candidates, who may either drop out of the running or be hired by a competitor
  • It leads to a less favorable candidate experience

While you don’t want to sacrifice candidate quality in favor of speed, a faster time to hire is generally a positive thing for most organizations.

What’s the Average Time to Hire?

The average time to hire ranges by industry and region. The data on this metric varies depending on who you ask. A survey by recruiting software company Lever puts the average time to hire at 29 days, while Jobvite says it’s between 36 and 39 days. In any case, for most companies, the number is somewhere between four and six weeks.

While this might seem like a pretty tight timeline, the difference between hiring a candidate in 28 days and 40 days can be shocking. If you’re looking to hire a sales rep who’s responsible for bringing in $1 million a year in contracts, for example, the lost revenue from just 12 days lag time would amount to about $33,000.

While your particular bottom-line impact might not be so cut and dry, it’s still worthwhile to work on making incremental improvements to your average time to hire to improve your recruiting efficiency, reduce costs and provide a better overall candidate experience.

Related: The Importance of Data-Driven Hiring

6 Steps for Reducing Time to Hire

1. Build an ongoing talent pipeline

Rather than waiting for the applications to come rolling in every time you have an open position, it’s much more efficient to rely on a combination of sourced candidates and applicants, even in a candidate’s market. The average time to hire is twice as fast for sourced candidates than for candidates who apply on their own, and this holds true for almost any role in any size company. Cutting your hiring time nearly in half could present major cost savings for your recruiting department.

To build a continuous pipeline from which to source talent, you’ll need to allocate time to it each week. Identify the roles your company hires for on a repeat basis and the departments you hire for most often. Keep track of where you find the best candidates for these roles and maintain an active presence within these channels, even when you don’t have an open position to fill. Stay in touch with strong candidates, even those who don’t ultimately receive an offer or who end up taking a job somewhere else. The strongest talent pipelines are years in the making, and those relationships will serve you well down the road.

Finally, don’t forget about the importance of internal candidates to your talent pipeline. Internal candidates have the fastest time to hire of any candidate group and cost much less to recruit, so it makes sense to focus on fostering awareness of your open positions internally even before you begin advertising them externally.

2. Improve your job listings

One effective step in reducing time to hire has nothing to do with your recruitment processes; rather, improving your job listings can go a long way toward improving the quality of the candidates who apply for the job. This, in turn, reduces the amount of time you’ll need to spend on screening.

To maximize the effectiveness of your job listings, provide the full scope of information a candidate needs to decide whether they’re a good fit for the role. This includes a direct statement of the daily tasks the job requires as well as the expectations for what the candidate will contribute to the organization broadly. If you’re able to, it’s also beneficial to provide a salary range for the role, which can minimize the amount of back and forth on salary negotiations down the road.

Closeout your job listing with a timely closing date, which encourages prompt applications. If you’re like many organizations and frequently hire for similar positions, rewrite your job listings periodically to keep them from feeling stale.

Related: How To Write A Job Description To Attract Top Candidates

3. Use tools to automate the hiring process

Screening candidates and scheduling interviews are the top two most time-consuming parts of hiring. In a survey by Yello, 67% of recruiters said it takes them between 30 minutes and two hours to schedule a single interview. To make matters worse, this task typically falls to someone who also juggles many other responsibilities, meaning it can get put on the back burner, further extending your average time to hire.

Harness automated tools to speed up the screening and interview-scheduling process. Chatbots installed on your website can help you prequalify candidates for specific roles before they fill out on application. Scheduling tools make it easy for candidates and interviewers to find mutually acceptable time slots, eliminating the need for lengthy email threads proposing time slots. Software that automates reference checks can save time spent on manual calling, while drip campaigns can be used to prompt applicants to complete digital assessments like personality surveys and skills tests.

4. Integrate your technology

The types of automation we discussed in item three can be further amplified by making sure all of the pieces of your hiring funnel are integrated. For example, candidates that come in via your website should feed directly into your ATS. Your ATS should be connected to your email platform to send automated candidate emails and synced with your calendar for seamless scheduling.

The goal of combining integration and automation is to reduce the number of manual steps in your hiring funnel as much as possible. The more the system functions on its own, the shorter the hiring window and the more time your recruiting staff has to spend on hands-on tasks like meeting with candidates and getting new hires up to speed.

5. Follow the data

Recruiting metrics are useful for a variety of reasons, from making accurate hiring projections to controlling costs. In our case, they hold some valuable data we can use to accelerate the hiring process.

The first step is tracking key metrics over time in order to identify trends. Then, when you notice an anomaly, follow the data to see where it leads. If you see a spike in your candidate dropoff rate between the screening and interview phase, you know there’s a breakdown occurring at that point in the hiring funnel. Chances are, that spot is also the source of delays that are extending your average time to hire.

When you can identify such precise breakdown points, it’s much easier to take steps to correct the problem and remove the hiring bottleneck.

6. Enlist the help of a staffing partner

To fully optimize your average time to hire, enlist the services of a professional staffing firm. Working with a recruiting agency is a proven way to hire faster and more economically, especially if you need to hire for the same types of roles on a repeated basis or you need to be able to quickly scale your staffing up or down to fit demand.

4 Corner Resources helps companies of all sizes find competent, highly skilled workers that meet their technical needs and match their organizational culture. Get started formulating a staffing strategy that will help you hire faster by scheduling your free 4 Corner consultation today.

Stacey Haley

About Stacey Haley

Stacey Haley is the CFO of 4 Corner Resources, a nationally renowned staffing agency. She has eight years of experience in public accounting as well as seventeen years of consulting in the private sector. As a CPA, Stacey works closely with decision-makers and shareholders for small and medium-sized businesses. Her vast experience varies from debt financing, auditing, cash flow management to mergers and acquisitions. In her free time, she enjoys horseback riding and being outdoors!