5 ways to reduce your company’s time to fill

February 11, 2022 Updated: February 2, 2024 6 min read

No matter the size of your business or the industry you’re in, there’s one recruitment metric that has the potential to transform your hiring process. And that’s time to fill. Tracking the number of days it takes you to fill open positions can reveal some valuable insights into the effectiveness of your recruiting process.

As the economy booms and we shift into a new era of labor, recruiting teams need to meet top talent on their terms. And more so than ever before, that involves optimizing your recruitment funnel to offer the best candidate experience possible.

In this article, we’ll explore how to track this key recruitment metric so you can make any improvements that might be necessary. Discover the optimum time to fill for your industry, alongside strategies that will help you find the best candidates, in the least amount of time.

What is time to fill?

Time to fill is one of the most important HR recruiting metrics for a talent acquisition team to track. This metric quantifies the number of calendar days between first advertising a job vacancy and hiring your new staff member.

Time to hire is another metric you should be tracking throughout the hiring process — and although they sound similar, there are some key differences. Time to hire measures the number of days between a candidate applying for a role and accepting a job offer.

Time to hire sits within your overall time to fill. Both depend on the efficiency of your recruitment funnel (within your control) and competition within the hiring market (outside your control). By optimizing the parts of your hiring process that you can control, you’ll position yourself towards the top of the hiring market and improve your ability to attract top candidates.

Why is it important to measure your company’s time to fill?

Tracking time to fill allows your HR department to effectively plan their recruitment activity. If you don’t know how far ahead you should plan to start posting job requisitions, you could potentially be left with positions remaining open for extended periods of time.

Measuring and subsequently improving your time to fill can also help you offer top candidates a role sooner than the competition, improving the candidate experience while helping you secure top talent. If your time to hire figures are significantly higher than industry benchmarks, you may find your preferred candidate has already accepted another role by the time you contact them.

Different ways to measure time to fill

Time to fill can be measured from several different starting points, for example:

  • The date your job posting goes live
  • The day HR approves the job opening
  • The day a hiring manager submits a job requisition to HR

There’s no right or wrong option, but it’s important to decide what the specific starting point for your organization will be, and then consistently measure the amount of time using the same criteria across all departments. The end point will always be the same — the start date of your new hire.

Once you’ve decided how to measure time to fill, you can track this metric in a variety of ways:

Time to fill per role

Out of all time to fill metrics, this one is arguably the most important. Knowing the time to fill for each individual role will help keep you aligned with industry averages and allow you to determine whether you’re staying ahead of the competition.

Average time to fill

To calculate the average time to fill for your entire company, first calculate the time to fill for each role as described above and then divide that by the number of roles. When calculating your average time per hire across all departments, leave any permanently “open” positions out of your calculations. They’ll negatively skew the rest of your results.

Time to fill per department

Different departments will very often have different time to fill durations. It’s always a good idea to calculate the time to fill for each department. That way you can compare against specific industry standards to see how you compare.

What is considered a good time to fill?

SHRM research sets the average time to fill across all industries at 36 days. Bear in mind this will be affected by the country, industry, and type of role you’re trying to fill. Average time to fill can be broken down further by industry:

  • Healthcare: 29 days
  • Customer service: 33 days
  • Sales: 40 days
  • Marketing: 43 days
  • Human resources: 45 days
  • IT: 50 days
  • Engineering: 58 days
  • Data science: 62 days

Regardless of industry, hiring a manager or somebody who will be in a position of leadership will also generally take longer than when hiring for a less senior role.

How to reduce your company’s time to fill for open positions

Before you set out to reduce your time to fill, first compare your results to industry averages. If they’re higher than average, it’s a good idea to implement some of the strategies we’ve outlined below. But remember that the goal is to optimize — not rush — the hiring process. Don’t be tempted to take shortcuts in order to push down your time to fill. Instead, focus on creating an efficient and streamlined hiring process as the main priority.

  1. Analyze your current hiring processes

    It’s a good idea to quantify how long each part of the recruitment process takes. Your time to fill may be longer than the industry average, and this could be because one aspect of the hiring process — for example, interviewing — is taking a longer time than it should. The steps that tend to take the most time are screening candidates, conducting interviews, posting new jobs, and sourcing applicants.

  2. Build a talent pipeline

    If you already have a candidate database full of talent, your time to fill can be drastically reduced. Creating a talent acquisition strategy involving forecasting and creating a talent pipeline can help you hire faster and smarter. Using an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) means you can keep details of potential or passive candidates readily accessible.

  3. Calculate your time per hire

    While time to hire is more focused on the candidate experience — rather than the entire recruitment process — it’s an essential component of time to fill. Improving your time to hire will improve your overall time to fill. Research shows that 23 percent of candidates lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back within a week of their interview. After two weeks, that rises to 46 percent. If your time to hire is longer than this, you may find candidates are no longer interested.

  4. Reduce common bottlenecks

    Once you’ve analyzed your current hiring processes, you can start to refine the specific stages where you’ve identified bottlenecks. Perhaps there are points of friction between hiring managers and recruiters when it comes to crafting job descriptions or scheduling interviews. In this case, improving the relationship between a recruiter and hiring manager will likely help optimize your time to fill as a result.

  5. Use recruitment technology

    If your hiring team is still relying on phone calls and written notes to share candidate feedback, it might be time to add some new technology to your hiring process. Using artificial intelligence (AI) in recruiting can help streamline many parts of the recruiting workflow, from screening candidates to reducing bias. With scheduling and conducting interviews taking up significant time for most recruiters, an obvious starting point is implementing an intelligent interview platform to help accelerate this stage of the hiring process.

The future of the recruitment process and reducing your time to fill

As we leave the Great Resignation behind and head into the Renaissance of Work, developing robust strategies that help you stay ahead of the competition is going to be key. Tracking critical hiring metrics like time to fill — and implementing tools and strategies that will help you improve those metrics — will be vital to securing the best talent available.

Accelerate your time to hire with Clovers

Making the most of AI-powered recruitment technology can help you hire the best candidates before your competitors. Schedule a demo to discover how Clovers’ interview intelligence platform can streamline the hiring process and transform your recruitment metrics.

Doug Leonard

Doug is constantly working to make the hiring process more objective, insightful, and informed. As a trusted leader in the recruitment industry, Doug is always ready to guide candidates and companies to (and through) a person-first hiring experience.

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