According to headlines, quick hire is all the rage. UPS hired many of its seasonal workers within 30 minutes of their application. Southwest Airlines filled in a crew of dock workers with on-site interviews and job offers.
But other employers quietly fought with the market and brought in candidates faster than their competitors through excellent processes. There’s a name for this process in the recruiting world: Time to Hire. Also known as staffing time, this metric indicates how long it takes an employer to hire a new person for an open position.
Setting it at top speed isn’t about bragging rights. Sources told HR Dive that an organization’s onboarding time impacts business results as much as it does the candidate experience. The good news for those who are slow to hire? There are several steps employers can take to increase their hiring speed.
60 days: “This is the default”
On average, it takes organizations around 60 days to fill a non-managerial professional role. “That’s the common understanding among recruiters,” Fortune Brands Home & Security Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist Erin Stevens said in an interview with HR Dive. “That’s the norm. Of course you want it as soon as possible, but that’s how long it takes.”
Senior Vice President of People and Talent at Employ Inc. Corey Berkey consistent with the Stevens 60-day standard. At Employ, it typically takes 60 days to accept an offer after the company posts a job.
Stevens noted that the time to cast will decrease or increase depending on the level of the role. Entry roles take two or three weeks to fill. At her company, recruiters have a goal of closing non-senior positions in 45 days or less. Directors and Vice Presidents? These can last up to 120 days, Stevens said.
Still, Stevens, who said she finds the metric intriguing, is trying to beat the clock. “For me personally, I always try to act as quickly as possible,” she said. “40 days or less.”
When it comes to hiring, Berkey focuses on a different metric: days in the pipeline. “I watch ‘Days in Pipe’ a lot,” he said. “I appreciate it from the day the right candidate throws their hat in the ring to the day we make an offer.” At Employ, a candidate typically has 16 days or less in the pipeline.
Regardless of a company’s average hiring time, most are trying to move at top speed, Stevens said. She compared the job market to the real estate market and noted the similarities. “We have many jobs but limited inventory,” she said. “It’s really up to the job seeker — they can go out and browse all of these options.”
Stevens has seen candidates say yes to offers from their company, only to accept a counter offer from their current employer days before their starting date. Contestants also drop out late in the game after accepting an offer from a competitor.
All about accountability
As employers compete for workers, hiring speed is a top priority. “This is a really critical metric. It’s very important in the current market,” Berkey said. “It ensures that we get our selection of top talent quickly.”
Berkey said companies suffer “a trident of pain” when they don’t pay attention to time to hire. First, they will lose talent. Then they will encounter the business implications of empty roles: burnout of current team members, stagnant business goals, and delayed results.
Stevens also emphasized the importance of tracking time to hire, but pointed to other reasons. “It’s an accountability thing,” she said. Tracking the time to hire shows where the process is lagging. Individual recruiters can look out for their own numbers. But depending on the system a company uses, the metric can be broken down by department and hiring manager. “The data is great for starting those conversations and really seeing where those bottlenecks are or where things are taking more time,” Stevens said. “It all comes down to accountability. Who does what, who moves whom.”
Part of the recruiting challenge is uniting multiple teams around one goal. When a hiring manager asks to post a job but is reluctant to schedule interviews, the hiring time is lengthened. “It looks bad to me, but it’s really the manager,” Stevens said. “If you’re not ready, we’ll have to put it on hold.”
Accountability for hiring loan brokers is valuable as it can speed up the process. And quick experience makes for happy candidates, both Stevens and Berkey noted. When candidates don’t have to wait to hear from recruiters—that they’re scheduled for an interview, that hiring managers need a few days to decide they have the job, that they need to keep looking—it shows job seekers that they are sought after and taken seriously.
Improve time to hire
By tracking the time to hire, employers and recruiters can pinpoint the people and processes that are extending the timeline. There could be an hiring flow with too many steps or too many participants. Or the problem could be with a specific person; Stevens and Berkey both cited hiring managers as potential culprits.
“If a recruiter is the first line of defense and tags a person who is a good fit, but that person isn’t scheduled for the next round of interviews for a week and a half, you have a problem,” Berkey explained. “We say that recruitment is a full-contact sport. That means we’ll be crossing things off your calendar to make room for those conversations. Otherwise you will lose this candidate.”
Ironically, recruiters might also struggle to make time to recruit, Stevens pointed out. “A lot of people care about HR and recruiting, so you have to put your time into recruiting,” she said. While Stevens’ position is strictly recruiting, she nonetheless devotes certain parts of her day to this task. She actively recruits every day from 8am to 9am and 12pm to 1pm and also blocks out every Friday afternoon.
Outside of humans, some pipeline processes can increase hiring time, Berkey said. Assessments are common speed bumps that Berkey encouraged other recruiters to reconsider: “What would happen if you changed it? What would happen if you eliminated it?”
Recruiters should also pay attention to how long it takes to communicate decisions throughout the process. When a team interviews a great candidate, but the candidate doesn’t hear about an offer until four days after the interview, recruiters should question the gap, Berkey said.
Berkey and Stevens highlighted another area of concern for hiring: scheduling. Both praised planning tools to reduce the burden.
When recruiters scour their hiring processes for slowdowns, they need to remember why speed matters. “It’s all about the candidate experience,” Stevens said. “It’s go, go, go. It’s a constant back and forth. You have to connect with people and give them answers.”