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What’s the Difference Between Time To Hire vs Time To Fill?

Time to fill and time to hire are two key metrics commonly used by HR teams, hiring managers, and business owners to assess the efficiency of their recruiting efforts. Because both are used to measure time within the hiring process, they’re often confused with one another. However, there are actually distinct differences between the two. 

Time to hire measures the time from when a candidate applies for a job to when they accept an offer from the company. In contrast, time to fill measures how long the entire hiring process takes, from when a job post goes live to when a candidate accepts an offer. 

In this article, we’ll explore how to calculate time to hire and time to fill, good benchmarks for both, and how to improve your business’ performance in these key metrics.

What is time to hire?

Time to hire is best defined as the amount of time (usually measured in days) that passes between when a candidate applies to a job and when they accept an offer. The metric is often used as a KPI to help businesses identify which factors contribute to a longer or shorter recruiting process. 

How do you calculate time to hire?

To calculate time to hire, you’ll first need to determine the “start” and “end” dates. For start dates, you’ll want to use the date a candidate first applied to your posted job. Your end date will be the day the candidate accepts your offer letter — though some businesses may choose to make the end date the day the new hire officially starts their job. 

Once you have these dates on hand, simply calculate how many days passed between them:

Day Candidate Accepted Job Offer – Day Candidate Applied for Job = Time to Hire

How to calculate time to hire
How to calculate time to hire

What’s a good benchmark for time to hire?

The average time to hire you should aim for will likely depend on your industry. For example, a LinkedIn study revealed that businesses in the engineering industry and other technical positions in research and finance have the longest average time to hire (as long as 49 days). In contrast, the sales and customer service industries tend to have much faster times to hire (averaging around 33 days). 

With that said, if your company happens to work within a technical field, you may want to consider assessing your current hiring practices to see if there’s room to make it more efficient. Knowing your average time to hire is a good start. 

How can you improve time to hire?

If you want to improve your company’s time to hire, you’ll need to first assess various data points that influence this metric. For example, how long does your recruiting team or an RPO outsourcing service take to reach candidates between screening stages? How responsive are candidates to new communication? Are candidates successfully completing the application in full? Knowing this additional information will allow you to pinpoint what exactly in the hiring funnel needs improvement.

From there, you can use any of the below strategies to start reducing time to hire

  • Refine job descriptions and update the careers page to include employee value propositions
  • Simplify the application process
  • Implement structured interview phases
  • Use skills assessments
  • Invest in applicant tracking software (ATS) or online recruitment methods (this is especially beneficial for mass hiring)
  • Set up an employee referral program
Graphic showing how to reduce time to hire
How to reduce time to hire

What is time to fill?

Time to fill is the interval (also measured in days) between when your hiring process begins (when a job is posted or the day approval is given to fill a position) and when the candidate receives and accepts your offer. This is another KPI companies use to determine how long recruiting takes and whether current processes need improvement. 

How do you calculate time to fill?

How you calculate time to fill will work similarly to calculating time to hire; just find the number of days that pass between the “start” date and “end” date. In this case, the start date would be the day the recruiting process began — or the day the job was posted. The end date would be when the candidate accepts your offer. 

Day Candidate Accepted Job Offer – Day Job Post Went Live = Time to Fill

Infographic showing how to calculate time to fill
How to calculate time to fill

What’s a good benchmark for time to fill? 

According to Toggl, the average time to fill is 42 days and can range from 14 to 63 days depending on the industry, place of business, and other factors. In 2018, the hospitality industry saw the shortest time to fill, averaging at 10.2 days. In contrast, government positions took the longest to fill, averaging 53.8 days. 

If your current time to fill hovers above 42 days, it’s worth looking into methods that you can use to reduce time to fill. 

How can you reduce time to fill? 

With a longer time to fill, you risk incurring greater recruitment costs, being without a key role for an extended period, and potentially losing great candidates in the process. With that said, you’ll want to reduce your company’s time to fill to save on your hiring budget, stay on track within the business, and improve efficiency. 

Like with time to hire, you’ll want to first assess several hiring metrics to see where your business stands. Then, you can choose from any of the following methods to reduce time to fill

  • Reduce the time spent on the screening process by implementing skills assessments, job simulations, or automated ATS
  • Contact previous applicants or those passively looking for jobs rather than creating a new job post for a new pool of applicants
  • Improve communications, particularly communication speed between your business and candidates
  • Use skills assessments
  • Make the interview process more efficient by adding phases (phone interview, video interview, etc.)
  • Be more selective about your overall recruitment methods

You’ll find that many of the strategies you can use to reduce time to fill will also effectively reduce time to hire.

Graphic showing how to reduce time to fill
How to reduce time to fill

Time to hire vs. time to fill

As you can see, the difference between time to hire and time to fill is primarily the period that is measured. However, despite their differences, knowing your company’s time to hire and time to fill has some of the same benefits

  • Determine how much time is required to hire a new employee
  • Identify the resources required for recruiting purposes
  • Minimize the costs associated with the hiring process
  • Improve the candidate experience

Of course, one of the most important benefits is that you can use this data to build strategies that make the recruiting process more efficient and prevent strong candidates from leaving your hiring funnel

Graphic showing the benefits of time to hire vs time to fill
Benefits of time to hire vs time to fill

Final Thoughts

When it comes to time to fill vs. time to hire, the key difference lies in the period that is measured. Time to hire tracks the time between when a candidate applies and when they accept an offer. Time to fill measures the interval between when a job post goes live and when a candidate accepts an offer. 

However, although these metrics are different in design, they are both important to understand if you want to successfully assess your recruiting process and build strategies to improve it over time.

Aries Jones

Aries Jones

Aries is a seasoned professional with over two years of experience as a Research Integrity Auditor at Wiley, where he meticulously ensures the quality and integrity of published research. Prior to this role, he served as an Associate Managing Editor, overseeing a diverse portfolio of 20-30 proprietary and society journals, guiding them through the submission and peer-review process. With a keen eye for detail, Aries reviewed journal workflows, implemented efficiency improvements, and maintained strong relationships with key stakeholders. Additionally, Aries has extensive experience as a Freelance Editor/Writer, providing top-notch content creation and editorial services across various industries. He excels in crafting engaging articles, managing freelance teams, and developing editorial style guides tailored to clients' needs. Aries also holds a Master of Science in Publishing from the University of Houston-Victoria and a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Houston. With his expertise in publishing and communications, Aries is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of research integrity and delivering exceptional content solutions.

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