What is Time to Hire and Why Does it Matter?

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In high-volume frontline recruiting, speed is crucial when hiring and onboarding new employees. The longer a job seeker waits to hear back from you or gets caught in a lengthy hiring funnel, the greater the chance of losing them to the competition.

A faster hiring process reduces overtime hours paid and keeps productivity high. One way to keep track of the efficiency of your hiring process is by measuring time to hire. Let’s walk through everything you need to know about time to hire including how to lower it.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire is the total time between when a candidate applies for a job and when that candidate accepts a job offer.

How to calculate time to hire

If you do not use an ATS or other recruiting technology, you’ll need to manually create a list of each candidate who has become an employee and make a note of two dates: 1) the date they submitted their application and 2) the date they accepted your job offer. The time to hire for each person is the number of days between those dates. 

For example:

Employee A applies to your open role on October 1 and accepts your offer on October 19, so the time to hire for Employee A is 18 days.

You can also measure average time to hire by calculating the sum of time to hire for all new employees and dividing it by the number of new employees. Here's what that would look like in action:

Employee A time to hire: 18 days

Employee B time to hire: 20 days

Employee C time to hire: 15 days

Average time to hire = (18 days + 20 days + 15 days) / 3 employees 

Average time to hire = 17.7 days

Why is time to hire an important recruiting metric?

This metric is a crucial way to measure the efficiency of your hiring process. If your average time to hire is too long, it can indicate larger organizational issues, like a poor or non-existent recruitment strategy. The result is that the hiring team struggles to fill the talent pipeline with a steady stream of candidates.

What is the difference between time to hire and time to fill?

Time to hire and time to fill are often used interchangeably. However, they are different in that time to hire measures the time between application submission and job offer acceptance, and time to fill is the time between posting the job opening and a new hire accepting your offer. 

Both metrics are important because they each measure different elements related to your hiring process. For example, if you have a relatively short time to hire but a long time to fill, this could indicate that there may be an issue with the job posting itself. In this case, you may want to consider revisiting your job description to make sure it’s engaging, accurate, transparent, and highlights the great things about working for your company or double-check that the job board you are using is functioning as expected.

What is an ideal time to hire?

In general, most companies should strive for a time to hire of 7-10 days. But this can vary depending on industry, location, or specific roles that need to be filled. For example, filling specialized healthcare roles with good candidates tends to take longer than filling entry-level restaurant roles.

To put things into perspective: A recent study reveals that across 15 specialties, engineering has the longest median time to hire at 49 days while administrative positions take about 33 days to hire.

What causes an overly long time to hire?

So, if you’re one of the many companies who doesn’t fall within the bell curve of what is expected for time to hire in your industry, you may be asking, why? The following organizational challenges can often lead to a longer than average time to hire.

Lack of process and too many manual steps

Companies without a recruitment or hiring process in place will almost certainly have a longer time to hire than those with these systems. This is because each time a position opens up, it leaves the recruiting team stuck without a workable system to rely on. Now they have to start recruitment efforts from scratch, writing up job descriptions (which takes 65% of HR personnel two hours or more per post), figuring out where to post them, trying to promote them on the fly, and so on.

If you rely too heavily on manual processes, operational tasks can take up the majority of your and your teams’ time. A widely cited Ladders eye-tracking  study finds that hiring managers spend about seven seconds scanning each resume. For high volume recruiters who may review dozens or hundreds of applications a day, this can translate into hours of time per week. Similarly, consider the time spent reaching out to candidates with interview reminders or answering basic questions about the position or application process. 

Teams can save a tremendous amount of time by leveraging automation technology to complete these tasks. There are recruiting automation platforms that can screen resumes and applications, automate follow-up emails with templates, and leverage chatbots to send reminders or status updates.

 Overly-complex hiring process

Sometimes the issue isn't too many manual tasks—it's too many unnecessary tasks. Do you really need two or more rounds of interviews before choosing a new employee? Or is it absolutely necessary to put applicants through multiple skill tests that may not have anything to do with the job? 

These steps can be a turn-off for qualified candidates and can unnecessarily prolong your hiring process. If you haven't revisited your hiring strategies in the last quarter, you may identify steps (like those mentioned above) to cut out completely. 

How to improve time to hire

Improving time to hire can not only reduce costs and time spent on hiring, but it can also reduce the risk of losing top talent. Here are four steps you can take now to improve time to hire:

1) Analyze your recruiting metrics

There are many more metrics beyond time to hire—like candidate satisfaction, candidates per source, applicant drop-off rates. 

For instance, when determining candidate satisfaction score (CSS) via surveys, you could discover that candidates feel your application is too long or repetitive. This gives you a specific candidate pain point that you can identify and address. 

2) Automate the screening process

Manually screening applications and resumes is one of the most time-consuming parts of recruitment. Consider automating this process using software that uses AI to identify specific keywords, phrases, or desirable traits. This will help hiring teams whittle down a large group of good candidates into a smaller group of the best candidates.

3) Engage with candidates quickly

Most of the advice out there for job seekers says that they should expect to wait a week or two on an application, though it can often take longer than that. Forty-four percent of candidates report hearing back from employers within a few weeks of submitting their applications. Thirty-seven percent hear back within a week, and only a slim 4% hear back within a day. 

And most job seekers report that waiting too long to hear back on an application proves extremely frustrating. The faster you can respond, the more likely you are to win a candidate as an employee. Faster response time will also contribute to a lower time to hire and average time to fill. If you can reduce the time between each stage in the process with quicker responses, you can reach the offer stage faster.  

4) Reduce back-and-forth communications

Scheduling between interviewers and candidates can be a major challenge in high-volume frontline recruiting. Automated chatbots that connect to your recruiting software can be a great way to cut back on the amount of scheduling back-and-forth. Once a candidate reaches the interview stage, you can arrange for your chatbot to provide them with a list of available interview times to choose from. When they select a date and time from the list, the chatbot can automatically add the appointment to your hiring manager’s calendar—no phone tag required.

Chatbots can also answer applicant questions about the application process or simple FAQs, or give updates on the status of a candidate’s application. This provides candidates with the information they need without prolonging the review process.     

Benefits of reducing time to hire

Reducing time to hire comes with greater benefits than just filling open positions quickly. It can help with onboarding, retention, budgeting, and more. 

Let's explore three of the top benefits of reducing time to hire.

1) Acquire strong candidates quickly (before your competitors)

Not only do you want to fill open positions quickly, but you want a strong quality of hire. When you reduce your time to hire, you’ll respond to applications, schedule interviews, and send offers to your new hires quickly, which means you can pick up the best talent before they start looking for another job. 

Winning candidates quickly means you’ll win them before your competitors do—which is crucial in tough or specialized job markets. Don’t let the competition beat you at the talent acquisition game. Tighten up your time to hire so you can hire the best talent quickly.

2) Reduce company costs and save time

The longer time to hire is, the more you’ll spend in recruitment labor hours, recruitment costs, and human resources management. The teams with unfilled roles will work overtime to cover those vacancies, which is another expense. Reducing time to hire helps you cut all of these costs.

3) Improve your candidate experience

Focusing on candidate experience is increasingly important—and one of the big reasons why is the prevalence of mobile devices. According to Glassdoor, 58% of users search for and apply for jobs on their phones. One way to improve these candidate’s experience is to make it easy for them to apply with their mobile devices. Clunky applications that aren’t optimized for mobile can be user-unfriendly and frustrating to complete.

Long, complex recruitment processes, lack of empathy throughout the hiring process, and long waits between responses are the top problems that drive candidates away. Make the process fast, easy, and seamless to fill your positions quickly. 

Expedite your time to hire with Emi

Ready to start sprucing up your recruitment process so that you can trim away time-consuming tasks and hire top candidates quickly? Emi can help. Our platform offers solutions for the entire hiring process: automated candidate screening, scheduling tools powered by machine learning, metrics to help you track your performance, and more.

The best way to learn how we can help you reduce your time to hire is to sign up for a demo here.

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