Breaking Down The Time To Fill Metric For Recruiters

Breaking Down The Time To Fill Metric For Recruiters

Emily Smykal

Measuring time to fill, or time to hire, is an important way for recruiters to demonstrate their efficiency. The longer a position goes unfilled, the more productivity will be disrupted, and the more the burden of that job will be distributed to other workers. By accurately measuring time to fill, HR leaders can evaluate the speed of their recruitment processes, and provide fellow managers with realistic time frames for their vacant positions.

The time to fill metric also provides recruiters with insight into their own strategies, as well as guidance for resource allocation and budget planning. Longer time to fill periods may lead to higher cost per hire figures, as more expensive recruiting practices may be employed after a position has gone unfilled for too long. Analyzing metrics like cost per hire and time to fill, along with the individual recruitment stages that make up time to fill, can help identify the most time consuming, and most costly, aspects of a talent acquisition strategy. And it can help guide resources to the most efficient and effective strategies.

Why should recruiters care about this metric? The DHI-DFH Mean Vacancy Duration Measure–the national average time to fill–hit an all time high of 29 days in July 2015, and has remained elevated since then. And the figure looks even worse when you break down specific industries. Those 29 days represent working days that pass without a new employee filling an open position, and has been steadily climbing since 2009.

Increasing time to fill can result from many things, like ineffective recruitment practices to tightening labor markets. But regardless of the cause, recruiters who measure and try to improve their own time to fill will help reduce the strain an open position can have on a business.

How to Calculate Time to Fill

Time to fill is a simple calculation which measures a time period. But before starting calculations, recruiters need to define the time period in question. When does time to fill start? The standard is the day when a job requisition is opened or the day approval is given to fill a position. And when does the metric end? Recruiters can measure until an offer has been made, or accepted, or until the new employee actually starts. What’s important is that HR leaders define their time period once, and continue to measure it in the same way.

The generally accepted time to fill calculation is:

Time to Fill = Total Number of Days Job is Available and Unfilled

Next, to determine your company’s average time to fill, you need to gather this data for every job posting within a set time frame–one month, per quarter, or perhaps annually.

Average Time to Fill = Total Number of Days of Open Jobs / Total Number of Jobs Open

Jobs that are filled both by internal and external candidates need to be included, and the calculation of days open needs to be consistent. Will you include weekends and holidays? Many aspects of recruiting now happen regardless of date or time, so some HR leaders will measure time to fill with time frames that meet their company’s situation.

Looking More Closely at Time to Fill

Time to fill looks like a simple calculation, compared to many other talent acquisition metrics. But recruiters shouldn’t take this figure lightly. The time can change as different recruiting methods are applied to different types of jobs. High volume recruitment during the holiday shopping season, compared to time-bound recruitment of students, and specialized recruitment for highly technical jobs, may all employ different recruitment strategies. So their time to fill will not match up.

It is important to have realistic expectations for your time to fill metric, depending on the jobs you are recruiting for and the methods you are using. This is why many HR leaders break down time to fill into segments. Each company’s hiring process is different, but these segments can include:

  • Time to advertise an open position in all channels
  • Time to identify an acceptable candidate
  • Time to complete all interviews
  • Time to complete background checks (if needed)
  • Time to create and extend an offer
  • Time for candidate to accept offer

This kind of breakdown helps recruiters get a fuller picture of their time to fill metric in the context of the hiring funnel, and identify problems within the recruitment process that may be increasing time to fill more than is necessary. As with many other metrics, it is often better to measure your time to fill over several set time periods, and develop in-house benchmark data, rather than looking to industry peers. Other companies may not measure time to fill in the same way, and they may not be using the same recruitment methods. So comparing your time to fill to theirs could be about as even as comparing apples to oranges.

Now that you can measure and track your time to fill, how will you use it? The metric alone is not enough to indicate the performance of your talent acquisition strategies, as it focuses on speed above all else. If your time to fill is low but the quality of the candidates you hire is also low, what does that say about your recruitment processes?

Time to fill should be measured in tandem with other HR metrics, like cost per hire and quality of hire. Many mature talent acquisition teams will even support increasing time to fill, if it means metrics like quality of hire go up. If your recruiting methods are proactive, and you are focused on a consumer-quality candidate experience, your time to fill may fluctuate. But as long as you’re delivering the best candidates and not overextending your resources, you can justify reasonable time to fill figures for the good of the business.

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