Talent Acquisition Best Practices

Time to Fill vs Time to Hire: What Should Recruiting Teams Focus On?

Aug 01, 2023 - Cat DiStasio

Table of Contents

There are so many metrics to track in talent acquisition, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. While many metrics are clear and obvious, others can create a little confusion—especially when it comes to what TA teams can do to improve their outcomes. Time to Fill and Time to Hire are two of the most troublesome metrics but they don’t have to be. 

In this article, we’ll outline the meaning of each one and explain what these insights actually tell you about your recruiting process and hiring outcomes.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • Definitions of Time to Fill and Time to Hire
  • How to determine which metric is most important for your organization
  • Strategies for improving both metrics

Defining Time to Fill

Time to Fill is an organizational metric that reveals how many days it takes to hire a candidate for a given opening—or an average of the time across a team, department, or entire organization, depending on how the data is sliced and diced. The length of time typically spans between the date the job requisition is approved and the date of hire. This metric is an indication of how long your hiring process takes—but it doesn’t immediately account for delays caused by hard-to-find talent or hiring manager response time. According to SHRM’s 2022 Talent Access Report’s benchmarking data, the average time to fill is 54 days.

Defining Time to Hire

The Time to Hire metric is a representation of the candidate journey. It reflects the number of days between a candidate’s application date and their hire date. Right now, many employers are heavily focused (and rightly so) on reducing Time to Hire. By moving candidates more quickly through the recruiting funnel, the candidate experience organically improves. A faster recruiting process also means you’re less likely to lose candidates to competing employers. Time to Hire varies by position, typically with longer times expected for executives and highly skilled employees. "In some cases, the talent is not there, or hiring takes so long that the business is seriously impacted,” said Emily Rose McRae, senior director of research at Gartner in this SHRM article. “Hiring a data scientist can take six months or longer, for example."

Time to Fill vs Time to Hire: Which is More Important?

Time to Fill and Time to Hire are both important metrics and TA leaders should be watching them. They both have the potential to reveal bottlenecks in the hiring process and uncover opportunities for improvement. But it’s crucial to understand the major difference. Time to Fill is a long-tail metric and won’t change much from month to time. Time to Hire, on the other hand, can change rapidly with the right strategies in place.

How to Move the Needle

Improving Time to Hire is a great short-term goal for all talent acquisition teams, especially as unemployment rates drop and competition for quality candidates steepens. The first step is to ensure you’re casting a wide enough net to attract more of your ideal types of candidates. Using your job ads to drive candidates to virtual events is one smart way to do this. Taking advantage of the right sourcing technology can also make a huge difference.

With a healthy talent pipeline, employers are seeing dramatic results by hosting one-and-done recruiting events (both virtual and in-person) which can move candidates from the Awareness stage of the recruiting funnel to the Offer stage in as little as one week. Speeding up the candidate journey with large prescreening events and a faster consideration process further reduces your chances of losing candidates to low engagement or a competing offer.

Short-Term Goals, Long-Term Gains

Focusing on innovative strategies to reduce your Time to Hire will, in time, positively impact Time to Fill. Of course, you need quality data on your hiring process to get an accurate picture of what’s happening and make the best decisions about how to respond. If your recruiting platform doesn’t offer you the insights you need to remain competitive in today’s tight talent market, it might be time to explore your options.

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      FAQ: What's the Difference Between Time to Fill and Time to Hire?

      What is Time to Fill?

      Time to Fill is an essential organizational metric used to determine the duration it takes to hire a candidate for a specific job opening. It can also be calculated as an average across a team, department, or the entire organization, depending on how the data is analyzed. The measurement typically begins from the date the job requisition is approved and extends until the date the candidate is officially hired.

      Does Time to Fill consider all delays during the hiring process?
      While Time to Fill provides valuable insights into your hiring process's overall efficiency, it may not immediately account for specific delays caused by factors such as the scarcity of qualified talent or hiring manager response time.

      What is the average Time to Fill based on the SHRM's 2022 Talent Access Report's benchmarking data?
      According to SHRM's 2022 Talent Access Report, the average Time to Fill for organizations is approximately 54 days. This benchmarking data serves as a reference point for organizations to compare and improve their own hiring timelines.

      What is Time to Hire?

      Time to Hire is a vital metric that measures the duration of a candidate's journey from the date of their application to the date they are officially hired. It provides valuable insights into the efficiency of the recruiting process and directly impacts the candidate experience. Reducing Time to Hire is a key focus for many employers as it leads to an improved candidate experience and minimizes the chances of losing potential candidates to competitors.

      Does Time to Hire vary for different positions?
      Yes, Time to Hire can vary significantly depending on the position being filled. Executives and highly skilled employees often require a more extensive hiring process, leading to longer Time to Hire durations compared to other roles.

      How can a faster Time to Hire benefit an organization?
      A faster Time to Hire not only improves the candidate experience but also has broader organizational benefits. By moving candidates more swiftly through the recruiting funnel, employers can minimize the risk of losing top talent to competing companies. Moreover, an efficient and timely hiring process ensures that the business operations are not negatively impacted due to extended vacancies.

      What impact can a prolonged Time to Hire have on businesses?
      In some cases, an extended Time to Hire can have serious repercussions on businesses. Critical and hard to fill roles may take six months or even longer to fill. Prolonged hiring timelines can lead to talent shortages, hindering business growth and productivity.