Why “Time To Fill” Is Killing Your Business

applicant tracking system for small businessWe’re going to cover an extremely important metric in recruiting, the time to fill metric. But we’re also going to give you tips, because it’s no good telling you all about it if we don’t also tell you how to address times when it’s poor, a.k.a. when it takes a really long to hire someone. Did you know our free applicant tracking system for small business recruiting reduces the time it takes to hire someone new? Recruiteze makes finding and acquiring talent easy. Click here to use it for free.

The Time To Fill Metric

The term, “time to fill,” refers to how long it takes a company to fill a position. This includes the time from when the determination is first made that a position is open until the time a new employee has been selected and has committed to starting work. This is important because throughout this period, you are missing someone who needs to be working for your company.

When you are dealing with one person hired, the time and effect on your business show up more readily. You can quickly say, we were without a so-and-so for four weeks.

When you need to calculate how your overall hiring habits are impacting your business, you will need a time-to-fill formula.

Time to fill formula:

Time to fill = Number of days with opened jobs divided by the total number of jobs filled.

Using this formula will give you one figure that is easy to measure and to therefore build strategies from.

The Time To Fill A Position

According to a Glassdoor study, the average time to fill rate was 23 days in 2015, up a whopping 13 days from four years prior. This rate varies a great deal by both position and industry. Forbes specifies that entry-level jobs such as in retail sectors typically takes less than a week while executive positions may take 2 months or more to fill.

Why Does It Take So Long?

There are two main issues impacting this figure.

#1, business owners grow ever more convinced of the importance of finding and nurturing the right candidate.

WSJ explains it well, “Employers are trying to avoid costly mistakes. Getting a new hire up to speed can take six months to a year, and replacing one who fails can wreck a tight budget.”

#2, there are so many candidates to select from that only well-optimized recruiting practices can handle the supply.

Factors that may lengthen the hiring process:
● Strategizing advertising campaigns more carefully
● Going through massive amounts of candidate resumes
● Interviewing and reinterviewing
● Group interviewing
● Unrealistic expectations of hiring managers/clients
● Additional personality and skills tests
● Poor time management
● Under-strategized sourcing practices
WSJ and Glassdoor specify that phone screenings can add 6 – 8 additional days to the hiring time and that group interviews can extend the length by 6 – 7. Some employers hold multiple interviews with the same employee for the same position and request additional tests, such as evaluation periods.

Things That Can Be Done

There are several tricks that anyone performing recruiting and hiring tasks can implement to lessen the time to fill length and/or make the time more bearable for recruiter and candidate alike.


Inform candidates at the beginning what steps you will be taking and how long they might expect the process to take. This will give them a sense of security, which will also keep them from writing you to ask for an update and therefore save you time.

During each step of the process, remind them briefly which step will be taken next. You could potentially tell them what to expect and suggest information they may need to prepare for you. This again gives the candidate a sense of security and helps alleviate the potential for hangups.


Try to group interviews with multiple hiring personnel into one day. This will cut time out for you and make the interview process much easier on the candidate, probably also giving you much better interviews.

Attract first, source second, reject third

You can save a lot of time searching through countless resumes by investing a little more time in your advertising strategy. What extra time is spent on advertising can be saved later by reducing both sourcing and resume rejecting efforts. You see, advertising is a powerful tool for bringing better-matched candidates to you and instantly weeding out poorly-matched candidates. This leaves you with an already sorted candidate pool to go through.

Find Your Sweet Spot Strategy For Selecting Candidates

applicant tracking system for small businessDon’t be too rigid or too lenient. Of course, you don’t want to be too lenient. You need to select a candidate with staying power and to do that, you must be selective. But, if you are too rigid, you may miss out on a great candidate. The new trend is to find candidates with the right attitude and potential rather than the perfect set of skills and experience. You can take a great candidate and help them build the right skills and gain experience, but you can’t make a qualified candidate have the right personality.

In our prior post, Why Companies Should Hire For Potential, we stated,

“Instead of *finding* that ideal candidate, how about *making* that ideal candidate?
What do I mean by that? I mean, hiring for potential and training for skills.”

We went on to say,

“A job spec is generally like a Christmas list. It’s human nature, when you’re asked to define what you want, to start thinking of Every. Single. Thing. you’ve ever wanted.
Recruiters and HR Managers are rarely going to find everything on the hiring manager’s Christmas list, so why not avoid Christmas morning disappointment – or, you know, interview disappointment – by whittling the list down to start with?
Widening the job spec should be a natural move for anyone hiring:
● What are the 100% must-have skills vs. the nice-to-haves?
● What does that candidate actually need to do, in the job?
● What if they can achieve that without the qualification the manager is stating as mandatory?”
I’d like to add other important questions to ask:
● What motivation types do the most successful current employees for this client respond to?
● What personality traits do the current most successful employees have and which are sorely missing?
● What can be learned on the job?
● What is something a candidate has to innately possess?
● Why is the position open?
● What are the client’s goals for this position?
● What are the client’s overall goals and what qualities will they need to reach it?
Always prioritize which qualities are most important for the position, both hard and soft qualifications. Then apply the same selection technique for each candidate. Play around with what selection strategies work best for you, using client and candidate feedback as well as benchmarks to gauge long-term success.

Automate As Much As Possible

Use an applicant tracking system for small business recruiting, like Recruiteze, that will automate processes for you that don’t require human expertise. With these, you can be reminded of important tasks, have appointments set for you, have a program instantly upload and parse tons of resumes, and easily find great candidates from past jobs.

Create A Joint Hiring Plan

Make sure you know before you start looking for a candidate what the hiring managers or clients wants, the nuances. This way you can select candidates more likely to fit both your and their desires and you will have the foreknowledge to more expertly sell them on the candidate. You can save a lot of negotiating and re-selecting time with this prior planning.


Designate a certain period to review your efforts and look for opportunities to improve, such as every month, every six months, or every year. You probably want a yearly goal and at least one shorter goal to be quick to fix problems and to promote your own adaptability in a changing job market. Ask yourself what works and what doesn’t. Then create an actionable plan to fix it.


6 Ways to Separate Top Candidates from the Pack

This is a great prior post of ours with some pointers on speeding up the candidate selection process.

Why Companies Should Hire For Potential

I linked to this article above, but I’m adding it down here again because you may not have clicked on it and it’s a really great read. You may discover your reasoning for selecting candidates is all wrong, or at least needs some tweaking.


applicant tracking system for small businessIt takes companies a long time to hire employees, 23 days on average. Thankfully, by using the time-to-fill metric and setting actionable goals, recruiters, hiring managers, and business owners can reduce this number and reverse this trend. It takes strategizing, regular evaluation, and new-and-improved philosophies towards candidate selection to streamline your business’ hiring efforts.

Free Applicant Tracking System For Small Business Hiring in 2017

Recruiteze is an applicant tracking system for small business needs. Candidates can apply to be added to your database immediately. End-users can access candidate resumes online at any time and make changes quickly, for free.

This powerful online recruiting system makes your life easier by saving you time and money. Call us today to learn more.

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