Keeping track of time-to-fill, or the length of time it takes to fill an opening, is one of the key metrics in the recruiting industry; successful firms have always used it to ensure that their teams are working as efficiently as possible.

However, if you ask recruiting managers to explain precisely why it takes their team a given amount of time to make a placement, you’ll get answers that are largely anecdotal, unspecific, and unsupported by data.

Until recently, this lack of analysis was due to the fact that there simply was no way to reliably track what was happening to job orders between their open and close dates. However, technology such as applicant tracking systems and increasingly sophisticated phone systems has given staffing firms the ability to gather much more data on the progression of job orders and candidates, creating a significant competitive edge for firms that take advantage of the data they collect.

Managers that aren’t leveraging data about their team’s time-to-fill are putting themselves in a position that no manager ever wants to be in: They have just enough information to know they need to make changes, but not enough to make an informed decision about where adjustments should be made.

Here are four ways you should slice your data to ensure your recruiters are making placements as efficiently as possible:

1. Break the total time to fill into stages

Why? To pinpoint bottlenecks in the placement process, glean coaching points for your team, and prioritize new jobs as they come in.

How does this help me? Understanding how long job orders spend in each stage of your recruitment process (internal submission, sendout, interview, etc.) is crucial to minimizing the time it takes to make a placement. If you can identify the stage that is routinely slowing down the progression of your job orders, you’ll be able to make informed management decisions to eliminate that specific roadblock. If you don’t have data to highlight the barrier that’s causing problems, you’ll be flying blind while looking for ways to speed up the placement process.

2. Compare how much time a job spends in each stage for each of your clients

Why? To understand the difference in hiring behavior across your clientele, identify potential process adjustments, and ensure you will have resources available to meet client demands as they arise.

How does this help me? Understanding client behavior allows you to assess who your most efficient clients are (the ones that will progress candidates quickly), as opposed to your “best” clients (the ones providing the most job orders). It’s important to make this distinction in order to evaluate where your team stands in the hiring process for each client, and to make adjustments to your pipeline generation and recruiting efforts for each client accordingly. The last thing any manager wants is to receive requests for candidates from their customers and not have the bandwidth to meet them.

3. Assess the time it takes each recruiter to progress a job through each stage.

Why? Although some successful coaches, New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick included, subscribe to the philosophy that if you want to be better, you should “just be better!”, when it comes to recruiting, managers need to identify specific areas for improvement. Understanding which points of your recruiting process are causing individual recruiters the most trouble is the best way to provide your team with targeted coaching as opposed to general platitudes.

How does this help me? Understanding where in the placement process your recruiters are getting hung up allows you to tailor your coaching strategy for each individual and shorten the overall team time-to-fill. Moreover, this information helps you to identify what sets your best recruiters apart, and gives you the opportunity to shed some of the managerial burden by letting your strongest recruiters coach the recruiters that are struggling.

4. Look at how successful placements progress versus lost opportunities

Why? If you can tease out the differences between successful placements and lost opportunities, you can identify job orders that are at risk earlier on in your placement process.

How does this help me? When armed with hard data on the progression of successful placements compared to lost opportunities, recruiters can work more efficiently by prioritizing jobs that are more likely to result in placements. This minimizes the “happy ears” effect by showing your team exactly where lost opportunities are going to stall, and frees up your recruiters to either spend more time prospecting or double down on opportunities that are still promising.


The key takeaway here: it’s not enough to simply know how long it’s going to take your team to make a placement, it’s crucial to know why it takes that long, and to have the data to back up your answer. If you don’t, you may find that your firm begins falling behind your competitors that do.

Recent Posts