Time to hire was 29.2 working days in August, just shy of the all-time high of 30.3 working days in April of this year. It’s been steadily increasing since 2010, when it took half as long to fill a role. This is, no doubt, spurred by the high demand for—and shortage of—skilled talent. Despite this being the new normal, organizations and candidates alike are struggling with the amount of time it takes to fill a role. Organizations are losing out on productivity and revenue while their role remains unfilled. Candidates, on the other hand, are left wondering what’s taking so long to make a decision—and many are moving on to other opportunities as a result, further impacting time to hire. If you want to increase your chances of winning top-tier talent, while decreasing your time to hire, here are four ways to do just that.
1. Build a talent pipeline well ahead of time
If you want to decrease your time to hire, the single best thing you can do is build a talent pipeline well before you need it—even before you have an open role. Make sure you’re always on the lookout for great talent—whether that means attracting active candidates to your organization or strategically sourcing talent. Since doubling down on proactive sourcing, the team at Shopify has scaled at a remarkable rate - from 550 to more than 2,000 employees in only 3 years.
Attract top-tier talent to your organization with a strong employer brand, then convert them through a recruiting life hack Stacy Donovan Zapar calls “bucket reqs.” Simply put, have a form on your website where candidates can submit their contact information, resume, and social media profiles—without being attached to a specific open role. That way, you don’t miss out on great candidates who come to your website without seeing a role that immediately interests them.
The same goes for proactive talent sourcing. If you come across a great candidate, but don’t have an open role for them right away, add them to your applicant tracking system anyway. You may find these candidates while sourcing for another role, through your employee’s networks, or at an event. It never hurts to introduce yourself, and to let them know you want to keep them in mind for future positions. Then, when a role opens up, you have solid candidates in your pipeline from the get-go.
2. Stay in lockstep with your hiring manager
When a position opens up, it’s crucial to get on the same page as your hiring manager to ensure that you’re sending them great candidates from the start. Ask them to complete a candidate sourcing intake form so you can be clear on what the ideal candidate looks like.
Schedule a kick-off meeting with your hiring manager to source and review a few candidates together. This will allow you to fine-tune your sourcing process, better calibrate candidates, and ultimately reduce your time to screen. Better collaboration between hiring managers and recruiters is a key reason HotelTonight has reduced their time to screen by 43 percent. Also use this meeting to discuss any qualifications that are unclear, define the interview process, and discuss other important logistics. Unnecessary steps in your recruitment process, or a poorly defined role, can wreak havoc on your time to hire.
Follow-up with, and guide, your hiring manager throughout the recruitment process to ensure that it goes smoothly. Remember, your hiring managers may not have a lot of experience with hiring, or understand how to build a strong process. Keep the lines of communication open so you can achieve the best possible outcome—in the shortest possible amount of time. When you see something that could be improved, such as slow interview feedback, you can gently suggest ways to make a positive impact.
3. Provide a great candidate experience
You may also be able to decrease your time to hire by keeping your candidates engaged throughout your recruitment process, starting with your application process. Top-tier candidates have many choices when it comes to where they want to work, and will pass on your opportunity if you have a tedious application process. Take yourself through your entire application process, from job search to resume submission, to uncover ways to optimize it for a great candidate experience.
The median time from the moment a candidate enters your pipeline to when they’re hired is 34 days. Keep them engaged during this time so they don’t drop out of your recruitment process. This includes staying in contact with them, treating them well during interviews, and pre-closing them prior to submitting an offer. Following each step of your interview process, collect feedback quickly so you don’t leave your candidates hanging. After your recruitment process, follow up with candidates to learn how you can improve your candidate experience. A quick survey along with your rejection letter can provide valuable feedback to help you provide a better experience for all candidates, close more of your top choice candidates, and decrease your time to hire.
4. Be data-driven
Track internal metrics and stay up-to-date on benchmark information to identify opportunities for improvement. Data can help you find potential bottlenecks in your recruitment process, so you can get to the bottom of what’s causing them. Let’s say your time to hire for an engineering role has been in-line with the benchmark average of 38 days—except for a notable increase over the past three open roles. If you determine that a new coding challenge is responsible for the increase, determine if it has also led to a better quality of hire. If not, it may be best to revert back to your previous interview process.
You may also determine that specific channels have a shorter time to hire than others. Lever benchmark data shows that the median time to hire for agency candidates is 26 days, compared to 32 days for sourced candidates, 34 for referred candidates, and 34 for applicants. Agency and sourced candidates essentially come pre-screened by someone with a recruiting eye, and there are typically fewer of them to review than there are applicants for a given role. Check your own internal data to see if it’s consistent with these findings, and decrease your time to hire by focusing on the most efficient candidate sources.
Finally, look at your conversion rates between recruitment process stages to find opportunities to improve your time to hire. If, for instance, your candidates receive low feedback scores from your onsite interview, you are probably wasting a lot of time interviewing unqualified candidates. Instead, determine how you can better screen candidates during the resume review and phone screen stages.
Looking for an example of a team that’s leveraged data to decrease their time to hire and fill 100 roles in under one year? Take a look at LevelUp’s story.
Time to hire is an important metric for organizations that are losing productivity and revenue for every day a position remains open. Overall, an increase in time to hire over the past several years is normal—simply due to the skilled talent shortage and the need for high quality hires. However, there are things you can do to optimize your recruitment process and keep your time to hire in check. By continually improving and reiterating on your process, you won’t need to sacrifice quality for time.