Speedy hiring is all the rage, according to headlines. UPS hired many of its seasonal workers within 30 minutes of their applying. Southwest Airlines filled out a crew of ramp workers with on-the-spot interviews and job offers.
But other employers quietly battled the market, scooping up candidates faster than their competitors through process excellence. In the recruiting world, there's a name for this process: Time to hire. Also known as time to fill, this metric reflects how long it takes an employer to bring on a new person for an open job.
Hiring at top speed isn't about bragging rights. Sources told HR Dive that an organization's time to hire rates impact business deliverables as much as they influence candidate experience. The good news for those slow to hire? There are several steps employers can take to ramp up their hiring speed.
60 days: 'That's the standard'
On average, it takes organizations about 60 days to fill a non-managerial professional role. "That's the general understanding among recruiters," Fortune Brands Home & Security Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist Erin Stevens told HR Dive in an interview. "That's the standard. You want it ASAP, of course, but that's just how long it takes."
Senior Vice President of People and Talent at Employ Inc. Corey Berkey agreed with Stevens' 60-day standard. At Employ, it usually takes 60 days to get an offer accepted from the time the company opens a job.
Stevens noted time to fill will shrink or balloon depending on the level of the role. Entry level roles require two or three weeks to fill. At her company, recruiters have a goal to close non-managerial roles in 45 days or fewer. Directors and vice presidents? Those can take up to 120 days, Stevens said.
Still, Stevens, who said she finds the metric fascinating, tries to beat the clock. "For me personally, I always try to do as soon as possible," she said. "40 days or less."
When it comes to hiring, Berkey focuses on another metric: Days in pipeline. "I look a lot to 'days in pipe,'" he said. "I gauge it from the day the right candidate throws their hat in the ring to the day we make an offer." At Employ, a candidate's days in pipeline usually number 16 or fewer.
No matter an organization's average time to hire, most are trying to move at top speed, Stevens said. She compared the job market to the real estate market, noting the similarities. "We have a lot of jobs but limited inventory," she said. "It's really in the job seeker's side — they're able to go out and search through all these options."
Stevens has seen candidates say yes to offers from her company, only to accept a counter offer from their current employer days before their start date. Candidates will also drop out late in the game after accepting an offer from a competitor.
All about accountability
As employers vie for workers, hiring speed takes top priority. "It's a really critical metric. It's very important in the current market," Berkey said. "It makes sure we're getting our pick of top talent quickly."
Berkey said businesses endure "a trident of pain" if they don't pay attention to time to hire. First, they'll miss out on talent. Then, they'll run into the business implications of empty roles: burnout of current team members, stagnating business goals, and lagging deliverables.
Stevens voiced the importance of tracking time to hire, too, but pointed to different reasons. "It's an accountability thing," she said. Tracking time to hire illuminates where the process lags. Individual recruiters can pay attention to their own numbers. But, depending on the system a company uses, the metric can be broken down by department and by hiring manager. "The data is great to have to start those conversations and really see where those bottle necks are or where things are taking more time," Stevens said. "It all comes back to accountability. Who's doing what, who's moving who."
Part of recruiting's challenge is uniting multiple teams around one goal. If a hiring manager asks to post a role but hesitates to schedule any interviews, it drags time to hire. "That looks bad on me, but in actuality, it's the manager," Stevens said. "If you're not ready, we need to put it on hold."
The accountability time to hire lends recruiters is valuable, as it allows them to speed up the process. And a quick-moving experience makes for happy candidates, both Stevens and Berkey noted. When candidates don't have to wait to hear back from recruiters — that they're being scheduled for an interview, that hiring managers need a few days to decide, that they've got the job, that they need to keep looking — it tells job seekers they're wanted and taken seriously.
Improving time to hire
By tracking time to hire, employers and recruiters can pinpoint the people and processes lengthening the timeline. It could come back to a hiring flow with too many steps or too many participants. Or the issue could be with a particular person; Stevens and Berkey both mentioned hiring managers as potential culprits.
"If a recruiter is the first line of defense and is flagging a person who's a good fit, but that person's not being scheduled for the next round of discussions for a week and a half, you've got a problem," Berkey explained. "We say recruiting is a full contact sport. That means we're going to bump things off your calendar to make room for those conversations. Otherwise you will lose that candidate."
Ironically, recruiters may have trouble making time for recruiting, too, Stevens pointed out. "A lot of individuals do HR and recruiting, so you have to make time for the recruiting," she said. While Stevens' position is solely in recruiting, she still sets aside certain parts of her days for the task. She actively recruits every day from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and noon to 1 p.m. And she blocks off every Friday afternoon, too.
Outside of people, a couple of pipeline processes can drag out hiring time, Berkey said. Assessments are common speed bumps that Berkey encouraged fellow recruiters to reconsider: "What would happen if you changed it? What would happen if you eliminated it?"
Recruiters should also look at how long it takes to communicate decisions throughout the process. If a team interviews an amazing 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 flagged another time to hire problem area: Scheduling. They both lauded scheduling tools to ease the burden.
As recruiters search their hiring processes for slow-downs, they need to remember why speediness matters. "It's all about the candidate experience," Stevens said. "It's go, go, go. A constant back and forth. You've got to connect with people and get them answers."