Time to Fill Explained: What it is and How to Calculate It

Time to fill process by Shiftbase

This article will explore the significance of time to fill, unraveling its implications for businesses and HR professionals.

What is time to fill?

Time to fill is a recruitment metric used to measure the average time it takes to fill a job position from when a job requisition is issued until a candidate accepts the job offer. This metric provides valuable input into the efficiency of the hiring process.

It is a key performance indicator for hiring managers and human resource professionals. Time to fill reflects on organizational efficiency, indicating how quickly a company can respond to talent needs and fill empty positions.

Significance in the hiring process

  • Efficiency Indicator: It shows how effective the recruiting operations are.
  • Business Planning: Helps in strategizing business planning by understanding the time frame for filling positions.
  • Talent Pool Management: Reflects the company's ability to attract and retain a qualified talent pool.

What is time to hire?

Time to tire differs from time to fill as it focuses specifically on the period between when a candidate applies for a job and when they accept a job offer. It's a more candidate-focused metric, providing insights into the recruitment technology and methods used.

Comparison with time to fill

  • Focus Point: Time to hire concentrates on the candidate's journey, whereas time to fill looks at the overall recruitment process.

  • Candidate Experience: Time to hire is more reflective of the candidate's experience through the recruiting process.

Why time to fill matters?

Understanding the significance of time to fill is essential for businesses, as it directly impacts the efficiency of the hiring process, influences candidate experience and employer branding, and plays a crucial role in managing recruitment costs.

1. Impact on business efficiency and workforce planning

The average time to fill a position is a critical factor in organizational planning and efficiency.

  • Workforce Management: Helps in anticipating and managing workforce needs.
  • Business Continuity: Ensures that critical positions are filled promptly to avoid disruptions.
  • Strategic Hiring: Assists in planning strategic hiring initiatives.

2. Effects on candidate experience and employer branding

The time it takes to fill a position can significantly impact the candidate's perception and the company's branding.

  • Brand Perception: A quick hiring process enhances the employer's brand.
  • Candidate Engagement: Longer times can lead to disengaged candidates.
  • Market Competitiveness: Efficient hiring processes make a company more attractive to top talent.

3. Relationship with overall recruitment costs

The length of the hiring process directly influences recruitment costs.

  • Cost Efficiency: Shorter times to fill can reduce hiring costs.
  • Resource Allocation: Efficient use of recruitment software and resources.
  • Quality of Hire: Balancing speed with the need to find the best-qualified candidates.

Factors influencing time to fill

Several factors can affect time to fill, each playing a significant role in the hiring process. Understanding these factors helps HR teams and hiring managers to strategize effectively, ensuring that positions are filled with the best candidates in an efficient manner. Here are five key factors that influence time to fill:

1. Industry type and job complexity:

Different industries have varying levels of complexity in job descriptions, which can affect how quickly a position is filled. For example, highly specialized roles in tech or healthcare may take longer to fill due to the specific skills required. This makes the industry type a valuable input metric in calculating the average time to fill.

2. Market conditions and available talent pool:

The availability of potential candidates in the market significantly impacts the time to fill. In a talent-scarce market, finding and hiring top talent takes longer, as the competition for qualified candidates is higher. Therefore, HR processes must adapt to these conditions to avoid extended calendar days with an empty position.

3. Internal hiring processes and recruitment metrics:

The efficiency of a company's internal hiring processes directly influences time to fill. A streamlined process, aided by effective recruitment metrics and technology, can significantly reduce the time it takes to fill a position. Conversely, cumbersome processes can extend the time significantly.

4. Job boards and recruitment channels:

The platforms used for advertising job openings, like job boards and social media, can affect how quickly positions are filled. The reach and effectiveness of these channels provide a quick reference point to gauge how effectively they attract potential candidates and how they impact the time to fill.

5. Company's recruitment strategy and talent strategies:

The overall talent acquisition strategy, including the role of HR teams and hiring managers, plays a crucial role in time to fill. Companies with proactive talent strategies, which focus on building a strong employer brand and maintaining a talent pipeline, often experience shorter time to fill metrics. This approach helps in not only filling current openings but also in reducing the time for future hires.

Each of these factors provides valuable insight into how time to fill acts as an excellent forecasting variable and a key recruitment metric.

Calculating time to fill

Time to fill formula by Shiftbase

Calculating time to fill is a critical task for HR professionals and hiring managers. It provides an accurate representation of the efficiency of the recruitment process. Here's a detailed 5-step guide to calculate time to fill, including the formula and key points for consideration:

Step 1: Define the starting point

The calculation of time to fill starts the moment a job position opens. This is typically when finance approves the new position or when a current employee leaves, initiating handover procedures.

For example, if a freelance writer leaves and their position becomes vacant, this is where you start measuring time.

Step 2: Define the ending point

Time to fill ends when a candidate accepts a job offer for the open position. It’s important to note that this is different from the candidate's first day; it is the acceptance of the offer that concludes the time period.

For instance, when a candidate accepts an offer for the specific position of a project manager, this marks the end of the time to fill the calculation.

Step 3: Collect relevant data

Gather data on all open positions and the dates when candidates accepted job offers. This information is typically stored in recruitment software or HR databases.

For accurate calculations, ensure you include all relevant recruitment activities and job offers made within the specified time period.

Step 4: Apply the time to fill formula

The formula to calculate time to fill is:

Total number of days to fill all positions/total number of positions filled and the total number of days to fill all positions/total number of positions filled

For example, if it took 60 days to fill 3 positions, the time to fill would be 60/3=2060/3=20 days.

Step 5: Analyze and interpret results

Evaluate the results to understand the efficiency of your hiring process. A lower time to fill indicates a more efficient process.

Compare time to fill vs time to hire for deeper insights into the recruitment experience and areas for improvement.

Example scenarios for practical understanding:

  • A High-Demand Role: In a scenario where a company is looking to hire software developers, a role in high demand, the talent pools might be competitive. Most candidates could receive multiple job offers, potentially lengthening the time to fill as the company competes to secure new hires.

  • A Specialized Position: For a specialized role like a biotech researcher, the time to fill might be longer due to the specific skills required and the smaller talent pool. Here, calculating time to fill provides valuable time insights into how niche positions impact recruitment timelines.

  • A Standard Position: For a standard administrative role, the time to fill is likely shorter as there is a larger pool of potential candidates. This quicker fill metric is a positive sign of effective recruitment activities for common roles.

Best practices to reduce time to fill

Reducing time to fill is essential for efficient recruitment. Here are five strategies to optimize the recruitment process:

  • Streamline the Hiring Process: Analyze the current hiring process to identify and eliminate bottlenecks. This might involve reevaluating how the hiring manager conducts interviews or how the hiring process takes into account various candidate assessments.

Useful Read: Assessment Centre: The Complete Employers Guide

  • Improve Job Descriptions: Clear, concise, and attractive job descriptions can significantly impact the quality and quantity of applicants. Ensure that the job description accurately reflects the role and company culture to attract suitable candidates quickly.

  • Use Data to Inform Strategies: Analyzing data to calculate average time to fill for various positions can provide insights into the effectiveness of different recruitment strategies. Use this recruiting metric to tailor approaches for different roles.

  • Foster Relationships with Candidates: Building a rapport with candidates throughout the hiring process can ensure quicker decision-making when a hire accepts an offer. This approach can reduce the company's average time to fill positions.

  • Develop a Talent Pool: Maintaining a pool of pre-screened candidates can significantly reduce the time to fill future vacancies. This proactive approach means you have a ready list of potential candidates before a position even opens.

Role of technology and automation in streamlining hiring

Technology and automation play a pivotal role in streamlining the hiring process. Tools like Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and recruitment software can automate repetitive tasks, such as sorting through resumes and scheduling interviews.

This automation allows hiring managers to focus more on engaging with candidates and making informed decisions, thus reducing the average time to fill positions. Additionally, technology can provide valuable analytics to help refine recruitment strategies further.

Benchmarking against industry standards and competitors

Benchmarking time to fill against industry standards and competitors is a crucial aspect of strategic HR management. By comparing your organization's average time to fill positions with those of similar companies in your industry, you gain valuable insights into your recruitment efficiency.

This comparison helps identify areas for improvement and sets realistic targets aligned with industry norms. Moreover, understanding how competitors manage their hiring processes can reveal best practices and innovative strategies to adopt.

Benchmarking not only fosters a competitive edge but also ensures that your recruitment practices are up-to-date and effective in attracting top talent in your sector.

Importance of a strong employer brand and candidate pipeline

A strong employer brand is vital in attracting top talent. When a company is known for a positive work culture and career growth opportunities, it naturally attracts more candidates. This reduces the effort and time required to fill positions, as there is already a pool of interested candidates.

Similarly, maintaining a robust candidate pipeline ensures a steady flow of potential applicants. By engaging with past applicants and passive candidates, companies can quickly fill new openings, significantly reducing the average time to fill.

This approach is particularly effective for roles that frequently need new hires, as it ensures a continual influx of qualified candidates.

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Bottom line

In conclusion, understanding and effectively managing the time to fill metric is a critical aspect of modern recruitment strategies. It not only reflects the efficiency of your hiring process but also impacts your employer brand, candidate experience, and overall business performance.

By considering various factors that influence this metric, adopting best practices, and leveraging technology, organizations can streamline their recruitment processes, making them more responsive to their talent needs.

Ultimately, a well-managed time to fill strategy ensures that businesses remain competitive in the ever-changing job market, enabling them to attract and retain top talent efficiently.

Topic: Time
Rinaily Bonifacio

Written by:

Rinaily Bonifacio

Rinaily is a renowned expert in the field of human resources with years of industry experience. With a passion for writing high-quality HR content, Rinaily brings a unique perspective to the challenges and opportunities of the modern workplace. As an experienced HR professional and content writer, She has contributed to leading publications in the field of HR.


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