The time it takes to fill open vacancies is rising. According to analysis recently presented to companies signed up to the REC’s Good Recruitment Charter by global insights consultancy CEB, the average time has risen by more than 50 per cent in the last five years to 68 days, with no noticeable increase in the overall quality of hire.
The time to hire metric is important for businesses. Slow hiring can have negative impacts - such as lost productivity, higher disengagement within the existing team, and it increases the risk of losing out on the best candidates if they are looking to make a quick decision - whilst the allocation of recruiter and hiring manager time becomes less effective. CEB shared US research showing that the cost to an organisation of having an unfilled vacancy could be as much as £285 a day for each position.
This may have a longer term benefit if the extra time taken is resulting in a better quality hire, but the research indicates that this isn't happening, with ‘new hire’ performance ratings by hiring managers remaining relatively unchanged over the 5-year period. In fact a further CEB study indicated that the lowest acceptable time to fill a vacancy without sacrificing quality is around 31 days, which is less than half the time currently being taken. Clearly the increasing investment of time, without a corresponding improvement in quality, is something that needs to be addressed.
Whilst there will be a number of factors contributing to the increase in recruiting timescales, it is the growing complexity around harder-to-fill vacancies, with resulting impact on recruiter workflows, that is having the greatest impact. Roles are becoming more specialist and diverse, requiring skills that are harder to identify, leading to recruiters searching markets and using sources and technologies that are new and different. 80% of recruiters see their workloads as more complex with 44% of hiring managers taking longer to make decisions as they interview for skills and behaviours that may be new.
How can we support recruitment teams to reduce time to hire? Traditionally the answer has been to enable them through additional resource, including investment in headcount, technology and resourcing budget, so that they work on less roles but can offer greater choice, stakeholder input and data to support hiring managers in their decisions. However CEBs Recruiting Efficiency Audit suggests that while this enablement might help to improve timescales it is the streamlining of hiring workflows that will have the strongest positive impact. There are three main areas where we can streamline:
The CEB audit indicated that streamlining processes could halve the time to fill ratios. Effective implementation of this approach will require some up-skilling and coaching, particularly to help recruiters with vacancy prioritisation, and hiring managers to make quicker decisions without resorting to decision-making biases.
Ultimately the candidates who apply and the hiring managers who take them on will need support through the whole process if we will similarly improve quality of hire. Those applying need clarity on the process and timeframes, a good experience that leaves them feeling valued and the opportunity to represent themselves in the best possible way. They should also have confidence that once employment starts they will still be supported and benefit from onboarding that gives them every chance of success. This can be achieved if hiring managers have a good range of candidates, help in assessment and selection, and can run an engaging induction and onboarding process that starts as soon as they make an offer.
Both time to hire and quality of hire are key metrics for good recruitment. Through the streamlining of recruitment processes and workflows, and provision of on-going support for candidates, hiring managers and stakeholders throughout the lifecycle of the open vacancy, both can be improved without the need for additional resources and budgets. And without incurring the associated costs that go with unfilled positions.