Time to Hire Matters – Just Not the Way You Think

Aimee Griffin on April 7, 2015 1:30:00 PM EDT


“Time to Hire” is a longstanding efficacy metric in corporate recruiting, one that has shaped the way that recruiting professionals source talent. In trying to keep their time to hire down, recruiters focus on the jobs that have been open the longest, which are not necessarily those positions that are most essential to the business.

“There is no conversation at all about the impact that that individual position has on the overall business as a whole,” stated Kara Yarnot at a recent Global #HRU event in New York City. Kara and her company instituted a “date needed” system so that recruiters could focus on how urgent it actually was to fill a position.

 In this sense, time to hire does still matter, but not as a metric that has become an arbitrary and inaccurate way to measure just how well your recruiters are doing. Does it really matter that a recruiter filled an administrative position in less than 30 days when your company is still desperately searching for someone to replace your highest performing sales person?

Experts like Kara don’t think time to hire in the traditional sense matters anymore. As Andy Porter notes on his blog fistful of talent, this metric “places the emphasis on speed and not quality” as well as defying the simple logic of finding the right person to take on a role: it takes time to recruit top talent, and you need time to get to know someone before you can feel comfortable hiring them.

Kara Yarnot and Lance Richards discuss time to fill at the Global #HRU event in NYC.

In the fall, an article in the Wall Street Journal noted that U.S. employers are taking longer to hire new employees anyway: the average is 25 working days, the highest time to hire has been in 16 years. While a leisurely hiring pace is generally a sign of supply exceeding demand in the job market, that’s obviously not the case today with around ten million unemployed Americans. What is the case is that employers aren’t just looking to fill their positions as soon as possible anymore; they’re looking for the perfect fit and they’re only getting pickier.

So maybe time to hire as a recruiting metric doesn’t mean anything anymore, but that doesn’t mean any company is content to see moneymaking positions sit empty for long periods of time.

The trick then, is to find quality candidates faster, both to mitigate revenue loss and because the longer you wait to fill a position, the more likely you are to miss out on top talent. The candidates who are actively job searching and are perfect for your positions aren’t going to last long in the pool; odds are someone else has recognized that they are perfect for their position as well.


Passive candidate sourcing has become the norm with the rise of technologies like LinkedIn, which has its own advantages because the candidate isn’t necessarily chomping at the bit for the first best offer. However, when the perfect person for your job already has another job where they are comfortable with their salary, benefits, and commute, it is no easy, or quick, task to lure them away into your interview process. Once you do woo them into considering a position change you have a very small window of opportunity to seal the deal before they too are pursuing other options.

With passive and active candidates alike, the more time you spend away from interviewing them, the more likely they are to accept other offers before you have time to realize you wanted to make them an offer too.

Kara Yarnot noted that recruiters and HR professionals should shift their focus to whether or not someone was placed in an open position the day they were needed, and in this sense, the time you take to source a candidate does matter, depending on whether or not you need to have a new hire in two weeks or two months for a crucial role. When we’re talking about positions that are generating revenue for a business, every day spent without someone in that position is a day of revenue lost, so the day they were needed was probably yesterday. Prioritizing the job requisition helps, but it doesn’t solve the problem of finding a candidate to fit the ever-growing list of credentials before your company loses another cent.

So how do you hit the time to hire sweet spot? You can source your butt off and spend a lot of money hiring outside agencies, RPOs, or more internal recruiters. Or, you could get quality candidates, who are interested in your roles and hand-vetted, for less than half the cost of traditional agencies from RecruitiFi.

Let us be your secret weapon for filling your crucial need-it-yesterday positions. Click here to learn more about RecruitiFi.