Time To Fill: So What?


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Time-to-Fill: Why It Matters

time to fill

Arguably the most used Talent Acquisition metric is time-to-fill.

But why do we measure it? What does it tell us? How does it help us become better recruiters? What results are we trying to drive?

Defining Time-to-Fill

When asked to produce time-to-fill metrics, asking a few upfront questions helps create better alignment on expectations for you & your hiring manager.

The first: What exactly are you measuring when you say “time- to-fill”?

Having this conversation is key to make sure you and the hiring manager are evaluating the same metrics that define your success.

Questions to Define Up Front:

When does the clock start: Do you want to measure from the moment that you are made aware of an opportunity, once you create a requisition or once you actually start to actively work on filling a position?

When does the clock stop: Do you measure until an offer has been extended? Or accepted? Or do you measure until a new employee’s first day on the job?

My Timer: Start the clock once you actively starting sourcing and stop it when the offer has been accepted.

This way, you eliminate measuring elements outside of your influence – workforce planning and notice periods by candidates before they start.
In order to be responsive to business needs, I support a service level agreement between identifying a recruitment need and the actual start of sourcing (typically within 24 to 48 hours). Thus, the clock starts at that 24 or 48 period when I make the position active by posting. It closes when I have a signed offer in my hand.

Creating alignment on these definitions is important prior to developing goals around your time-to-fill metric.

Factors to Considering in Evaluating Time-To-Fill:

The type of recruitment/role should play a role in your considerations.

Different types of recruitment such as high volume recruitment, time-bound recruitment (i.e. students and new grads) or specialized technical recruitment will require different sourcing and selection approaches and have impacts on timing. All have different expectations regarding your time-to-fill.

Does it make sense to measure an average time-to-fill if you recruit for different types of recruitment or should you segment your metrics? I strongly recommend benchmarking against like hires.

To truly be able to analyze your time-to-fill metrics and identify significant trending, you also need to consider how you are able to “slice and dice” your information to investigate other trends like regional breakdowns or discipline specific information.

For Example: Due to the low unemployment rate in Alberta, it might be more difficult to hire an engineer in Calgary. Add in a specialization like Reservoir Engineering, and it’s more difficult. Thus, you may set a 1.5 or 2x time-to-fill goal versus your average time-to-fill 6-week timeframe.

My Time-to-Fill Best Practices

Know the End Game First:

A key question I always ask is: “What are we going to do with this information?”

I have found it challenging to benchmark the average time-to-fill in the market. Without a true target it’s difficult to set goals that go beyond the generic “decrease time-to-fill” goal.

I favor measuring the time lapse between different recruitment phases:

  • How long before we have an acceptable candidate identified?
  • How long does it take until interview completion?
  • How long does to complete background checks?
  • How long to create and extend an offer?
  • You get the picture. Within these smaller steps, intuitively, based on your process and industry, you’ll be able to identify significant time lapses and potential improvement opportunities – therefore allowing you to focus your time, energy and resources to improve your process in those areas directly impacting your time-to-fill results. Take trends/timing from your last 30 jobs and start defining internal benchmarks to then work against to improve.

    My Best Times:

    In any recruitment assignment, I set my goals (and expectations with the Hiring Manager) upfront during the kick-off meeting, supporting my time-to-fill goal. For a role that is deemed easy to fill, I target 25 total days. I break this down into:

  • 2 weeks sourcing time
  • 1 week of screening
  • 1 to 1.5 week(s) for interviews, selection and offer extension
  • 3 days to offer acceptance
  • This timing changes based on the role you are hiring for. If you are planning student recruitment time-to-fill, you may think more like 7 weeks or 49 days:

  • 4 weeks of campus events/sourcing in September
  • 2 week of screening in October
  • 2-4 week of interviews (based on # of rounds) in October/November
  • 1 week for offers in early November
  • The key is doing your research, setting the right expectations with your hiring manager based on the role, then working backwards and making mini-deadlines each week to hit your target.

    Time Well Spent or Just Time Spent?

    What you are able to measure might be impacted by the ATS you use. If you work with your system administrator, they can help build custom reports that making pulling these statistics easy!

    It’s then about what you dig into, what you learn, and how you change your process to be more efficient.

    It is more difficult with a truly manual process. This is all the more reason to truly understand what you’re measuring, set up your process in advance the time in each phase.

    Knowing how you are utilizing the results in the beginning will help you assess potential improvement opportunities in your recruitment process! Don’t just pull the statistics; use them to find areas to improve! What’s slowing you down? Is your Hiring Manager being responsive or dragging the process/ Bench marking and providing facts helps create behaviour changes in yourself, your team, and your Hiring Managers.

    Food for Thought:

    Please comment below:

    How do you approach “time-to-fill” or other key recruitment metrics?

    What have you learned through analyzing your time-to-fill statistics to improve your process?

    Helen has more than 20 years of experience in Talent Acquisition working in Canada and Europe in a variety of industries including manufacturing, sales & marketing, and currently in Oil & Gas. No matter how challenging a recruitment project seems, Helen’s ability to break daunting goals into actionable steps have been proven time and time again. Watch for Helen's posts on recruiting tips and tricks. Trust Helen as an expert who has staffed projects targeting Olympic athletes, remote merchandizers, and hired over 1,200 students and new grads annually.

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