Here’s How Long It Really Takes Employers to Fill Open Positions

Jan 26, 2015 -

Whatever industry you’re in, the experience of applying for a job makes us all bite our nails. You fill out endless online fields, hope you don’t lose the formatting when you upload your resume, and then wait. And wait. And try not to hyperventilate when you haven’t received a response from your dream employer.

It’s difficult to know, when you’re in the job-search seat, how long to wait. Should you send one more follow-up email? Look for ways to network your way into the job? (That’s a YES!) Or give up and assume they’ve passed you up for someone else?

Now we have some cold, hard data that shows how long it really takes most employers to fill positions. About 43 percent of job openings are filled within the first 30 days, according to a new report from Indeed and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR). (Click here to tweet this statistic.) And the 57 percent of job openings that aren’t filled during that first month will likely remain unfilled for three months or more.

“Employers must keep a close eye on the time that it’s taking to fill positions,” Paul D’Arcy, senior vice president of Indeed said, noting that the company’s research identified a tipping point of 30 days. “If a position remains unfilled after the first month, it is highly likely that the employer will struggle to fill this role within three months.”

So which jobs are filled quickly?

What does this mean for job seekers? It means you should do all you can in those first few weeks after the job opening goes live to snag the position. But it also sheds light on the types of jobs employers are struggling to fill: positions that present huge opportunities for job seekers who are willing to go the extra step to gain the skills required.

The hospitality sector has the hardest time finding the right people, Indeed’s research revealed, with 43 percent of job openings unfilled after three months. Manufacturing positions were open for at least three months 38 percent of the time. Also worth noting: both sectors saw moderate rises in employment rates.

Sectors that saw stronger employment increases lately, such as professional services and arts/entertainment, have been able to fill job openings more quickly, according to the study. Even the information technology sector, where growth has been steady, but not remarkable, tends to fill jobs quickly.

Beyond industry, management and supervisory positions seem to take the longest to fill. It makes sense: those just entering the workforce usually have less-specialized skills than experienced applicants. As your resume grows, it can take longer to find an ideal match.

If you’re experienced in the hospitality or manufacturing sectors that have some of the longest hiring timelines, it’s time to brush up your resume and cover letter. Try to highlight skills that can cross over between industries. For instance: you may be a whiz when it comes to managing a hectic shift at a restaurant, but can you also be trusted to compose concise and appealing social media posts on the fly? Play up those strengths.

Once you’ve submitted a job application, take other secondary measures where applicable to put yourself in front of the hiring manager.

“Today, interviews really only exist to confirm that someone I already believe to be awesome (based on my own research) really is that awesome,” Ambra Benjamin, engineering recruiter at Facebook, explained in a Mashable post last week.

A strong resume is essential, but reaching out over social media can help; make sure that you’re easy to find through LinkedIn or a personal website or portfolio. Hiring managers only spend a few seconds on each application, so you’ll want to make it easy for your profile to rise to the top.

Where the jobs are

Beyond your application, there may be other factors — like geography — at play. Indeed noted that businesses in Western states tended to to fill open positions more quickly, while states in the East and Midwest seemed to have greater difficulty. The skillsets of the available workforce sometimes don’t match perfectly with the needs of employers, which can slow the hiring process to a crawl.

And if you think you’re stressed out about finding a job, take solace: businesses are just as anxious about finding the perfect employee.

“Followers of the old-school hiring process tend to ‘post and pray’ and believe that success is dependent upon a job posting being broadcast to as large an audience as possible,” Benjamin explained. “You post a job and pray the right person applies.”

How many working hours are U.S. businesses and wannabe employees missing out on every month because it takes so long to hire? About 330 million hours, the report says. When positions go unfilled, those hours are either covered by employees who are already stretched thin, or lost completely with work going unfinished. Now isn’t that good motivation for businesses to figure out how to hire more efficiently?

Lisa Rowan is a writer and editor in Washington, D.C. A frequent visitor to Boston, her favorite way to network is over cannolis in the North End.