I will most likely create chaos by being one of the few Talent Leaders who despise time to fill as a key metric of your recruiting organization’s health and efficiency.
In case you didn’t know, time to fill is a metric used in recruiting that measures the amount of time it takes for an employer to fill a job opening from start to finish. It is typically calculated by taking the total number of days from when a job opening was posted until it was filled, divided by the number of people hired for the position. Employers use this metric to track how quickly they are able to fill job openings and measure the effectiveness of their recruitment process.
It was one of the early metrics recruiters could track to prove their value within organizations. While this may have worked early on in the 2000s, times have changed and there are a number of other key metrics to track, allowing you to really gain insight into how your recruiting organization is performing.
Why do I have time to fill?
Oh, there are many, many reasons why this metric hits a nerve. Here are just a couple.
- It’s not completely in recruiting’s control- One of the key definitions of an effective metric is that you have control over it. Time to fill is not completely owned by recruiting. Roughly 80% of the time a role is open for longer than X number of days is because the hiring team, not the recruiter, is dragging the process out. It could be the length of time to give feedback (learn how to fix that here) or simply wanting to put a candidate through 15 interviews (learn how to fix that here).
- It’s a lagging measure- A lagging measure is a metric used to track the success or failure of an organization after the fact. It measures an output that has already happened and is used as a retrospective measure, meaning that it does not provide any meaningful insights into future performance. You have no control over the metric until it happens. How is this going to help you manage your team in real-time?
- To be a realistic number, you have to do more work- If you want this to be an accurate measurement, you will need to write a complicated formula to account for the number of days in the weekends and holidays, number of days the position was on hold, number of days the managers didn’t know what the hell they were looking for and so on. There is too much noise in this metric for it to be effective.
- Too much variance- Your team can be killing it one month with a number of hires in the less than 30 days range and then you fill 10 that are older than six months. What happens? Your time to fill is largely affected by a third of the hires being open longer.
What’s the alternative?
Try tracking the average days open. This is a measurement that is taken in real-time and something you can actually influence. This is a more accurate metric for me because it gives me greater insight into the items I can control.
I like to categorize the roles into three buckets:
- Less than 30 days
- 31-45 days
- More than 45 days
I have this information displayed in a pie chart on my dashboard. Here’s an example:
So looking at this example, my average days open looks a little high. It makes sense when I look at the spread of my positions and realize that 25% are over 45 days open. If I use this metric to do some research, I may find that of that 25% over 45 days open, four of them have been open longer than six months.
These are the positions that, as a talent leader, I will dig into. If the role has been open for longer than six months should we actually fill it? Does the client even find value in filling the role? Is there something going on with the search that maybe I can help my team member find the right type of candidates? At the very least, it’s high time to sit down with the client and have a level-set meeting about the destiny of these roles.
Conversely, let’s say I’m a recruiter for a sales organization. This metric is telling me that 66% of my roles have only been open 30 days or less which means, I’m not necessarily killing the company’s revenue projections…yet. If I’m in a staffing firm placing contractors, I know that every day that passes means lost revenue. This metric helps me keep an eye on what levers I need to pull as a talent leader to ensure recruiting does its part to hit the revenue number.
I am sure I will have several in the industry challenge me, protecting the good ole time to fill metric and it’s ok. Everyone has their preference and most do not like change. I tend to prefer metrics that are in my control, give me data to make decisions on and take action, but also tell a more accurate story of what’s going on in my organization.
If you prefer to always be behind the eight ball and use the time to fill, have fun with that! See you on the productive side of recruiting one day!
If you like this topic, here’s another popular time to fill blog post: It’s stupid to track Time to Fill if you are not tracking this metric
and Sprint Recruiting
I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive.
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