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What Does Your Time-to-Fill Really Say?

In Human Resources — by Erin Engstrom

What is your company’s current time-to-fill? How does it compare to the 27-day national average ? Is it longer? Shorter? What’s your industry? How much money do you lose by not filling that position? How vital is a given position to your organization? Why are we asking all these questions? Because a metric like “time-to-fill” can’t be measured in a vacuum. It speaks volumes about your company, your industry and your market. So what does time-to-fill say about your company? More than we can fit here, but we’ll give you the short version.

It Says How Much You Care About Hiring

Some companies are in a great position: They’re in the sweet spot where having a vacant chair won’t kill them (say, for example, in creative industries), but they need someone in that position in order to produce higher-quality work and to expand the reach of their business. In these cases, having a longer time-to-fill can be a good thing; it says you care enough about who you work with that you’re willing to wait for the right candidate to come along. After all, with 95 percent of companies saying a bad hire impacts morale for everyone on the team, and 17 percent saying supervisors have to spend extra time looking after bad employees. So it pays to take some extra time to find the right person.

On the other hand, a longer time-to-fill can also be a sign of a slow hiring process. If the position you’re hiring for is vital to the company, needs to be filled quickly, a relatively high number of available candidates and you’re still coming up short, then your process needs some attention. Gary Cluff , president of recruiting firm Cluff & Associates, says there are a few key signs it’s your process–and not the job market–that’s a problem.

  • The recruiter begins recruiting candidates for a new requisition without discussing or clarifying the true needs and expectations with the hiring manager.
  • The hiring manager changes the specs after seeing a few candidates.
  • The hiring manager does not make him/herself available for interviews on a timely basis.

It Says What the Market Is Like Right Now

Is your recruiting process sorted out, but you’re still not seeing the ideal time-to-fill? It’s not always your fault. Many industries are experiencing a genuine talent shortage right now, especially in manufacturing. In fact, across industries 54 percent of employers report they’re having a rough time finding qualified candidates to fill their needed positions.

Does this mean that in rough markets, you should relax your hiring standards? No. Despite the talent market, employers are actually upping their education requirements­­–28 percent of them say they’re hiring people with master’s degrees for roles that used to require only a bachelor’s, and 37 percent say they’re targeting students with four-year degrees for jobs where before they would have accepted high school diplomas. This tells us that even when you’re changing your job requirements to account for some on-the-job training, you should still keep your expectations high.

It Says How Afraid Companies Are of Bad Hires

One of the big issues with time-to-fill, as we mentioned earlier, is how much a bad hire can cost your organization. Aside from lowering morale, a bad hire can have a direct impact on business, since it costs time and money to find, hire and train a new employee. Thirty-nine percent of CFOs say bad hires have cost their company productivity , and 11 percent say it’s cost them sales. With the cost of employee turnover at many businesses estimated to be around 30 percent of the employee’s salary, taking your time to hire seems like a good idea.

So you can see why companies would be a little gun-shy about cutting down their time-to-hire. But time-to-hire is a difficult number to properly make use of. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track it: Examining it as a metric can tell you more about your industry, your company, and your position relative to the rest of the job market. But it does mean you should worry about a much bigger problem: a bad hiring process.

About the author
Erin Engstrom is the web content strategist at Recruiterbox. I’m in Chicago for now, but hope to take advantage of Recruiterbox’s remote workplace and do the digital nomad thing. Relax and eat the elephant one bite at a time.

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