Hiring in any kind of labor market is challenging, and HR professionals are under pressure to demonstrate ROI (return on investment) more than ever in a rapidly evolving, competitive marketplace. HR professionals turn to accurate recruiting metrics such as time to hire to increase recruitment efficiency, improve ROI, and identify bottlenecks that prevent them from providing a swifter, smoother, more personalized experience for job candidates. Below we define what time to hire is, how it differs from time to fill metric, why it’s important to you and your business, and provide 13 practical ways to reduce time to hire without rushing into a hiring decision.
What is time to hire?
Time to hire is a standard recruiting metric that measures the number of days from when a job candidate first applies to the time the same candidate accepts the job offer.
The average time to hire depends on the industry. Some industries’ metrics are as low as 12 days, while others range up to more than 40 days. Generally, the average time to hire across industries is around 34 to 36 days, but there are reasons it’s generally better to outperform your industry standard, or at least keep pace with it, which we’ll review in this guide.
Time to hire versus time to fill
Time to fill and time to hire are separate metrics that provide different insights. Measuring time to fill begins when a job opening is posted and ends when a candidate accepts an offer. As mentioned, time to hire is the number of days from when a candidate applies (entering the talent pipeline) to accepting an employment offer. Time to fill will always be longer in duration than time to hire when a candidate applies after the job posting date.
Why track time to hire metrics?
Time to hire measures your HR team’s recruiting efficiency and speed and your company’s overall ability to compete in the hiring market. It’s essential for attracting top candidates and holding their attention. Top-performing applicants are typically gone in 10 days and perhaps sooner for specific jobs and industries. For example, if your average time to hire metric is 25 days, you may be more apt to lose a top candidate than to hire one.
Candidate expectations also matter. A long, tedious hiring process can create a negative impression of your company. Applicants today expect companies to have a timely, efficient, high-touch hiring process. It’s reported that around 30% of job applicants lose interest if they don't hear back within one week after their initial interview. Another 46% percent lose interest if they don’t receive a post-interview status within one to two weeks. The best candidates will likely drop out of the process if they believe it indicates how business decisions are generally made in your company or feel it doesn’t respect their skills or time.
A drawn-out hiring process may also impact company productivity and revenue when an important position goes unfilled. Plus, employees involved in the process, such as hiring managers, may be required to divert more time from their jobs to keep assessing and interviewing a stream of candidates over a lengthy period.
13 ways to decrease time to hire
The good news is that it’s possible to improve time to hire. There are several ways to accomplish this, from eliminating time-wasting activities and improving candidate evaluation to streamlining processes with automation.
Before working on how to reduce your time to hire, define your current time to hire metric, so you have a starting point. Even if you discover you are at or below your industry’s average, improving time to hire should improve ROI and the candidate hiring experience, ensuring you can fill positions with top talent.
1. Establish a structured hiring process
There’s no substitute for mapping out your hiring process steps and developing a structure and flow around them from beginning to end.
Basic recruiting steps usually include planning, attracting qualified candidates, screening, and making an employment offer. Start by identifying events and touchpoints along your typical recruitment timeline. Planning may begin when hiring managers get the job opening approved, have a recruiting budget in place, and prepare a job description.
Next, it’s time to attract qualified candidates and fill the hiring pipeline. Identify the different ways you do this, such as job ads, headhunters, asking for referrals, candidate sourcing via social media such as LinkedIn, searching through your talent database, and so on.
For the candidate screening and selection phase, identify the methods used, such as screening calls, job application reviews, and pre-employment tests to add to the process timeline.
And finally, identify what is included in offering the job. These items typically include a compensation package, an email or letter or call offering the job, negotiations, and employment contracts.
2. Identify key performance metrics (KPIs)
The talent acquisition KPIs used by your HR department can impact your ability to make appropriate data-driven decisions that improve recruitment efficiency. There are several top recruiting KPIs, including time to hire. This essential metric enables you to measure recruiting process touch points’ efficiency, including applications, screenings, interviews, and job offers. For example, if your time to hire is 34 days but the average time to interview candidates and make a job offer is 14 days, there could be a bottleneck in the screening process. Once you know where bottlenecks exist, you can take corrective actions.
3. Build a talent database and keep it updated
And remember, while only a portion of the workforce is actively searching for a new job, many are thinking about it and may be willing to talk when proactively approached. Candidates in your talent database can be applicants who may not have been right for a position they initially applied for but well-suited for a current opening. Also, with a remote workforce becoming a norm, you’re no longer geographically constrained in your choices, so your pool can expand to include remote workers. The database may also include candidates found through executive searches, in-house referrals, leads from events, and recruitment activities.
4. Develop a talent pipeline
Creating a talent pipeline is a proactive process that feeds into your talent pool, filling it with pre-researched potential job candidates you can tap into and reduce time to hire. Pipeline building is different from recruitment. It involves getting to know candidates’ interests and goals and determining if your company is the right cultural fit for them. Steps to developing a talent pipeline include identifying roles you hire frequently and their skill requirements, finding ways to establish a relationship with ideal candidates, and staying in touch.
5. Improve your careers page
Most serious candidates visit your careers page when they learn about a job opening and when considering your offer. If your careers page isn’t compelling, qualified candidates may drop out of the hiring process or reject your offer, resulting in a longer time to hire. One way to improve your careers page is to anticipate the information candidates look for and provide it. Besides prominently displaying jobs and supporting a hassle-free application, showcase your company’s culture and highlight benefits.
6. Create compelling job listings
Provide candidates with enough accurate information to decide whether to apply. Make the listing concise and easy to review quickly. Eliminate unnecessary details that may deter applicants while being honest about the job scope and requirements. Briefly describe daily tasks and overall job responsibilities. Emphasize the benefits and perks of working for your company and if the job offers a path to advancement.
7. Look into a work marketplace
Reviewing talent in a work marketplace can help you identify an ideal candidate’s qualifications and traits and improve your time to hire. And, as mentioned at the beginning of this section, not all jobs need to be filled in-house. In fact, a growing number of businesses are choosing independent talent over hiring permanent employees, and it’s predicted that the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers by 2027.
Companies hire contractors and independent professionals to meet work demands for a variety of reasons. It may be due to the project-based nature of their business or the ability to quickly tap into highly specialized skills on-demand without going through a lengthy job search and onboarding process.
Searching for talent on a work marketplace such as Upwork lets you hire proven pros with confidence using the world’s largest, remote talent platform.
8. Invest in an Application Tracking System (ATS)
ATS software automates the HR hiring and onboarding process. Sure, you can track time to hire manually or use a spreadsheet, but automation streamlines everything, increasing efficiency throughout the hiring process and reducing human error potential. It can help you structure your hiring process, evaluate each touchpoint along the hiring journey, provide real-time event notifications, and more. Thoroughly analyze your needs before searching for ATS solutions and test the top candidates before committing to a particular system.
9. Use assessment software
More companies today use personality questionnaires, skill tests, and cognitive ability assessments to ensure they hire the right candidate for the job and the company culture. However, these tests can add several days to the hiring process. Using a screening software solution enables you to streamline this, reduce the time it takes to create and implement tests, and reduce your time to hire without sacrificing quality.
10. Streamline your interview process
Interviewing delays affect your time to hire. Reduce them by using pre-assessment software to hone in on the most suitable candidates. Interview candidates via video versus face-to-face to eliminate traveling time and extensive schedule coordination.
11. Facilitate communication with candidates
Today’s job candidates seek personalization and timely communication, especially top talent. Identify ways to interface with applicants, including text and MMS messaging. Customize your communication with them. Avoid impersonal emails or texts and provide timely updates throughout their recruitment and hiring journey. By doing this, you’re more likely to keep a qualified candidate engaged and willing to accept a job offer. Ultimately, this helps reduce time to hire.
12. Improve collaboration with hiring managers
Help your hiring managers from becoming bottlenecks in the recruitment process. They are usually focused on other priorities versus hiring, such as doing their jobs. Consider leveraging collaboration tools that help keep them engaged in the hiring process and informed. Make any information you collect about qualified candidates available online for all involved parties to review, such as phone calls and meeting notes, and your observations. Anything you can do to streamline and make the process easier for hiring managers will likely improve your time to hire metric.
13. Create more touchpoints with candidates
In addition to facilitating communications with candidates, look for ways to create touchpoints throughout their recruitment journey. Even simple things such as communicating what the next steps will be in the process are helpful. By staying in touch and top of mind, you’re more likely to retain their interest and be able to offer a job to the best candidates more quickly.
After reviewing our guide on reducing time to hire, you should understand what time to hire is, why it’s essential, and how it impacts your business. You’ve also learned about the steps you can take to reduce time to hire without sacrificing quality. If you don’t have the available staff or staff with the appropriate expertise to accomplish this, consider staff augmentation to meet your needs. Upwork enables you to hire top independent professionals with the confidence of using the world’s work marketplace. Learn more at Upwork.com.
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