Make Time For Time To Hire

Make Time For Time To Hire

I was talking with a client in the week around his key talent acquisition challenges for 2016.

Given ‘time to hire’ is how he and his TA function is judged, how to recruit better quality people (who stay, develop and add genuine value to the business over time) more quickly is the main issue keeping him awake at night.

Reflecting on that conversation later that day, I thought about the number of times that organisataions have told me over the years how important it is for them to reduce their ‘cost per hire’ as a reflection on how successful their talent acquisition function is.

It interested me that an organisation would use time – not cost – as its primary judging tool.

Now of course, none of the individual ‘per hire’ metrics alone ever tell the whole story.

The sweet spot

David Green’s recent excellent LinkedIn article around ‘The Absurdity of Cost per Hire in Recruiting’ ( includes a nifty Venn diagram relating to the utopian mix of recruiting ROI; the sweet spot in the centre of where ‘cost’, ‘quality’ and ‘agility’ meet.

A quick/cheap hire is ultimately more costly in the long run if it’s a bad one, likewise a good hire can have its shine taken away if it takes months (years, sometimes?) of arduous searching and costs an absolute fortune.

Of all the recruitment metrics, I’d argue that ‘time to hire’ is the most commonly misunderstood, largely around how it’s measured. Approval of requisition appears to be the accepted point at which a hiring process ‘starts’, though an argument could be made that some roles begin when the workforce demand plan is created, as often by the time said role goes ‘live’ through TA the business is already wanting/needing to have it filled.

Likewise, in terms of the end of the hiring process, do you measure ‘time to fill’ or ‘time to start’? There are different factors at play in judging either one and the results can be very different depending on your preference.

The *right* bum on the right seat!

Another ‘time to hire’ misconception is “quicker is better”. I’ve never believed this to be true. I’m not suggesting that every organisation out there has the luxury of being able to really take their time over each hire in ensuring success (and sometimes this is down to the disconnect between TA and the wider business, other times it isn’t…), but by the same token just getting a bum on a seat – and I mean ‘a’, not *the right* – because they tick a recruitment box and because it only took 22 working days can sometimes have disastrous consequences down the line.

Therefore, ‘time to hire’ has to always be directly linked to ‘quality of hire’, so should be judged at least 12/18 months into a new employee’s service. If said employee was fired 6 months in, what is the value in how long it took to recruit him/her?

If an organisation can consistently hire the best people for any open requisition in under 20-30 days, then they’ve cracked it.


Because it would assume that that organisation had invested serious time in aligning TA with the wider business, had a proactive approach in relation to resourcing and was building talent communities through a proper process, strong candidate engagement, regular communication and a compelling EVP.

As I remarked to my client; no-one ever wants to discuss ‘cost per hire’ with me if a quality candidate joins their business in a very timely manner. It just becomes irrelevant.


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