3 ways recruiters can reduce time to fill

Filling vacant roles is something nearly every HR professional struggles with; in fact, some recruiters say finding skilled talent is one of the toughest parts of their job. With candidate sourcing presenting an ongoing challenge in an increasingly competitive job market, it’s no wonder recruiters struggle to fill roles in a timely manner.

Although SHRM's most recent acquisition benchmarking report showed the national average for time to fill dropping to 36 days (from 42 the year before), many organizations still take more than a month to fill a single vacancy. In industries where employee turnover is high or there is above-average growth, this represents a long delay in acquiring urgently-needed candidates.

Fortunately, there are numerous ways that time to fill can be reduced. Let’s review how your time to fill data can be used to speed up your hiring processes and hire new employees more efficiently.

What is time to fill, and how does it compare to time to hire?

Time to fill is the number of days that pass between

  • Approval of a new role, and
  • A candidate accepting a job offer for that role.
Time to Fill

Time to fill is similar to another recruiting metric, time to hire. However, time to hire is the number of days that pass between a job posting and candidate’s offer acceptance.

Because the measured period starts once the job is posted externally, time to hire is mainly used to track factors that may affect candidate sourcing, such as a long delay between a job posting and a candidate’s application. On the other hand, time to fill is more useful for surfacing areas of improvement internally, like a delay between a job’s approval and the creation of a job ad.

Both of these metrics are useful to organizations seeking ways to improve their hiring processes, but in different ways. If your goal is to identify and reduce internal factors, time to fill will likely be a more useful source of data.

How can time to fill data be used to improve the hiring process?

Time to fill reports typically display a breakdown of days spent in each stage of the hiring process — for example, ten days between approval and posting of the job opening, 20 days between posting and phone screen, and so on. This breakdown enables research into opportunities for improvement, with the goal of reducing delays in hiring.

For example, if time to fill is 60 days for an engineering role, a recruiter might look at which stage of the hiring process takes the most time. If they find that it’s currently taking 30 days to recruit qualified candidates, or that 20 days passed between job approval and posting online, this data will guide their next steps.

Three ways to reduce your organization’s time to fill

The hiring process is different across all organizations, and this also means that each organization will have its own unique reasons for delays in recruiting. But despite this, nearly every business can optimize its time to fill, and often do so in a way that’s easy to implement.

These are three of the most common ways an organization can reduce their time to fill, no matter what challenges they’re facing:

1. Improve communication between hiring managers and recruiters

When a request for a new hire is made, it often comes from a hiring manager. This request may be passed to several sources before it reaches a recruiter — to company leadership for review, to finance for budget approval, to the head of HR for staffing or location considerations, and so on. Once the request finally arrives at the recruiter, they may find that there are missing details, such as the proposed salary or key responsibilities, and need to circle back with the hiring manager for this information before a job ad can be posted.

This series of back-and-forth communication prevents recruiters from efficiently sourcing candidates and is often one of the biggest reasons an organization’s time to fill metric is high. If hiring managers are unclear about their recruiting point-of-contact, or what information to provide, the entire recruiting process slows to a crawl.

The solution to this challenge is to establish clear lines of communication between hiring managers and recruiters. Even if company leadership must still provide the final approval on a new hire, hiring managers should be aware of the following:

  • When to contact HR about a vacancy Specifically, whether they should notify HR about the new role before or after approval has been granted.

  • Who they should contact: Should managers notify the head of HR or a specific recruiter about a vacancy?

  • What information they should include: Including the proposed hire’s salary, responsibilities, location, and any special requirements for the hiring process, such as pre-interview testing or on-site presentations.

By documenting these processes and providing them to hiring managers, the back-and-forth communication between departments will be reduced, as will the time that passes between approval and the posting of the first job description. The end result will be a lower time to fill.

2. Streamline interview feedback processes

Some organizations have many employees involved with their interviews, including HR professionals, hiring managers, members of the leadership team, and even peers. If all of these individuals are asked to give feedback on candidates, and any one person delays their feedback, your net time to fill will rise as a result. The feedback process may also be unnecessarily complex due to the use of multiple tools that certain members of your organization can’t access.

If your organization isn’t already using an applicant tracking system (ATS), this tool will dramatically reshape how you approach the feedback process. Using an ATS allows time to fill to be reduced in a few ways:

  • Data centralization: Instead of being spread out across multiple tools, an ATS centralizes all of your candidates’ profiles, histories, and interview feedback, saving valuable time and reducing context switching.

  • Quick access to candidate information: Interviewers can log in and immediately see the candidate’s application, resume, and profile both before and after the interview, preventing them from spending time researching online or in other tools.

  • Elimination of in-person feedback: Since you can give all of your employees ATS access, there’s no need for time-consuming in-person meetings to discuss candidates. As a bonus, this reduces bias, since interviewers can only see others’ interview feedback after logging their own

Some applicant tracking systems can also send feedback-submission reminders to interviewers, which combats forgetfulness and further reduces the time between interviews and feedback. With all of these features, an ATS is one of the best ways to streamline the post-interview process and prevent a lengthy fill time.

Email notification screenshot
You can set up custom alerts and reminders in Hire to reduce bottlenecks in the recruiting and hiring process.

3. Eliminate inefficient job sources

While getting a lot of applicants for an open role may seem like a success, as many recruiters know, screening a lot of unqualified candidates is incredibly inefficient. Being more selective with your candidate sources may result in fewer job seekers applying to your open roles, but this on its own sometimes allows a dramatic reduction in time to fill.

Homing in on qualified candidates first requires recruiters to know where those candidates are coming from. Unless recruiters know which of their sources are most efficient — that is, provide the highest number of qualified candidates — they won’t be able to eliminate the sources that are inefficient.

There are a few steps you can take to identify and eliminate inefficient job sources:

  • Make a list of all of your current sources: This includes job boards, recruiting events, and referrals, as well as any “informal” recruiting sources, like employees sharing your openings on social media.

  • Track the number of times a source is used: Each time a candidate is interviewed, HR should track (or ask, if they are unsure) the source that led the candidate to apply. Tracking which sources are utilized will, over time, reveal which job boards or recruiting methods are most useful.

  • If available, use a source efficiency report: Some applicant tracking systems, like Hire by Google, include a source report showing the efficiency of the job boards or sourcing methods used (see example below). This saves time and can reveal even more useful insights into the costs of your sources.

Hire team communication

By eliminating job sources that either send you a limited number of candidates or candidates who rarely move through the hiring pipeline, you’ll be able to spend less time on screening, and more time on truly impactful recruiting methods. As a result of this more efficient sourcing, your time to fill will drop, specifically in the earliest stages of the process.

Use time to fill data to make critical improvements to your processes

While finding qualified candidates may always present a challenge, even to the most experienced recruiter, there are still numerous ways you can reduce the time required to bring them in the door. By using the three ideas we’ve shared with you here, you can begin to dig into your time to fill data and find ways to get new hires into their roles in less time.

About Hire by Google

Hire is a recruiting app by Google that uses AI to make the hiring process faster and simpler. Because it is designed specifically for G Suite users, with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite integrations, Hire streamlines administrative tasks so that your team can hire the best people, faster.