Reduce Your Average Time to Hire With These Top Strategies

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, reducing time to hire should be a key goal of your talent acquisition team. Read on to learn more about the 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 measuring the total time between when a candidate enters your talent pipeline and when they accept an offer. So, suppose a candidate submits an application on July 1 and accepts your offer on July 25. In that case, the time to hire for that candidate is 24 days (which is considerably faster than the national average, by the way).

So why is reducing hiring time a good idea? Taking too long to hire can be detrimental in several 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.

Time to Hire Formula

To compute Time to Hire, you need to determine the dates when the job is posted and when the offer is accepted. The formula is straightforward: Time to Hire = Date of Acceptance – Date of Job Posting. For example, if a job is posted on January 1 and the offer is accepted on January 25, the hiring time would be 24 days. Monitoring this metric over various positions and periods can provide valuable insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of your hiring process, helping you identify improvement areas and streamline recruitment.

What’s the Average Time to Hire?

The average time to hire ranges by industry and region. The data on this important recruiting metric varies depending on who you ask and how it’s measured, but most estimates put it 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 hiring time to improve your recruiting efficiency, reduce costs, and provide a better candidate experience.

Related: The Importance of Data-Driven Hiring

Time to Hire vs. Time to Fill

Time to hire measures the time between when a candidate applies for a job and when they accept your offer. However, Time to fill measures the time between when a job requisition is approved and an accepted offer. They’re similar measurements, but they have different starting points.

Time to fill begins before candidates start applying and involve additional steps in your hiring process, like posting and promoting your job openings. Because of this, it’s a more accurate indicator of hiring funnel efficiency, whereas time to hire is more closely tied to measuring candidate assessment and experience. 

Note that some employers and recruiting analytics platforms use the terms ‘time to hire’ and ‘time to fill’ interchangeably, so it’s important to find out how those metrics are defined in your particular organization so you know exactly what’s being measured. 

7 Steps for Reducing Time to Hire

1. Build an ongoing talent pipeline

Rather than waiting for the applications to roll in every time you have an open position, relying on a combination of sourced candidates and applicants is much more efficient, even in a candidate’s market. The average time to hire is twice as fast for sourced candidates than for candidates who apply independently, 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 repeatedly 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 take a job elsewhere. 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 make the hiring process faster versus 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. A great way to do so is by establishing an employee referral program.

2. Improve your job listings

One effective step in reducing time to hire has nothing to do with your recruitment processes; 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 job’s daily tasks and the broad expectations for what the candidate will contribute to the organization. If you can, 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

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 hiring time.

Harness automated tools to speed up the screening and interview-scheduling process. Recruiting Chatbots installed on your website can help you prequalify candidates for specific roles before they apply. 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. At the same time, drip campaigns can be used to prompt applicants to complete digital assessments like personality surveys and skills tests.

4. Utilize pre-employment assessments 

Candidate assessments are designed to objectively analyze candidates on various factors, from skills and behavior to culture fit and personality. Pre-employment assessments are used in conjunction with your initial screening process to help identify qualified candidates before the interview stage. This way, you don’t waste time interviewing unqualified applicants, which can cause unnecessary hiring delays.

Pre-employment assessments speed up hiring and reduce subjective bias in the hiring process, improving your recruiting accuracy. 

5. Integrate your technology

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

Combining integration and automation aims to reduce the number of manual steps in your hiring funnel as much as possible. The more the system functions independently, the shorter the hiring window and the more time your recruiting staff spends on hands-on tasks like meeting with candidates and getting new hires up to speed.

6. Follow the data

Recruiting metrics are useful for various 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 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 extending your average hire time.

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

7. 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 scale your staffing up or down to fit demand quickly.

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

In depth staffing knowledge is only a click away.

Download our 2023 Hiring and Salary Guide to read helpful advice from industry experts.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn