If you regularly find yourself at the end of a month-long candidate search with no new talent to show for it, then the length of your hiring cycles may be to blame. Leaving positions open for too long can hurt productivity, cost you money and lower the quality of talent you attract. Watch the video below, or read on to find out the right hiring timeline to shoot for and the steps you can take to meet it every time. 

the costs of unfilled vacancies 

Leaving too many positions open for too long can harm your business in multiple ways. For starters, there's the immediate issue of productivity. Existing employees will have to take on extra workloads in addition to their regular full-time tasks to compensate — but that burden can only be sustained for so long. The resulting employee burnout can lead to low engagement and low engagement, more often than not, ends in high turnover. That means your already-clogged backlog of vacancies will actually get bigger before it gets smaller.

With vacancies piling up, you may feel pressed to make hires prematurely just to keep operations up and running, regardless of whether or not the candidates are really the best fits for the roles. Unfortunately, that kind of panic staffing can lead to bad hires — and bad hires can cost you big. 

Replacing a hire that didn't work out can cost as much as 21 percent of an employee's salary, so ironing out the kinks in your hiring process and accelerating your time to hire can save you money in the end. 

how long is too long to fill a position? 

The hiring process can vary wildly from candidate to candidate — and even from position to position. Certain roles will require more time and resources to fill than others. So when it comes to identifying the ideal amount of days it should take you to hire, there's no one set number. 

We can, however, narrow it down to an ideal range that can act as your guide as you go about hiring. When you hit the upper limit with no new hires you'll know that it's probably time to hit the brakes, back up and reevaluate your course. 

At the low end of the spectrum, we have the number 10. In today's highly competitive hiring landscape, top talent has been shown to be on the market for only 10 days. Between the initial job posting, candidate sourcing and final interviewing, that's not a lot of time. That's why 10 should be the first number on your mind — especially if you're looking to hire for critical, strategic positions that demand specific skill sets and experience.

At the high end of the spectrum we have the numbers two and three — that's months, not days. And if you're really hoping to secure in-demand talent, you never want your search to reach this point. According to Randstad’s most recent annual client surveys, an average of 56 percent of companies take two to three months to fill a direct-hire vacancy, and that's much too long.* When you approach this territory empty-handed all warning signs should be going off, because your chances of landing quality candidates this late in the game will have diminished greatly. 

how to reduce time to hire

Time to hire can drag on for many reasons, so if you're having trouble hitting the ideal timeline, follow these steps to give your hiring process a much-needed jolt: 

1. Developing a comprehensive workforce management strategy in advance can help you avoid lengthy hiring cycles later on. Some best practices include:

  • Assign dedicated resources on your HR team to forecast future talent needs. 
  • Develop a strategy to attract your ideal candidates for those roles.  
  • Cultivate a talent pipeline.  

2. It's not just about listing job requirements and qualifications (though that's important, too, especially from a keyword-search perspective). A well-crafted listing should:

  • echo the voice of your employer brand
  • generate buzz about your business
  • use clear and simple language in the job description

3. Different generations of talent look for jobs in different places, so you should customize your recruiting strategy accordingly. For instance, in a recent Randstad study: 

  • Fifty-nine percent of millennials said they use social media to find a new job.
  • Fifty-six percent of Gen Z workers said they like to attend job fairs to look for new opportunities.
  • Sixty percent of baby boomers said they relied on employee referrals to secure a new position. 

4. If reducing time to hire continues to be a challenge, or you just don’t have time to tackle it on your own, consider working with a staffing firm. Staffing firms can help by: 

  • sending you candidates from pre-existing talent networks to help you meet more qualified applicants 
  • automating the hiring process with the latest HR tech so you can move toward making the right hire faster
  • developing talent strategies tailored to your business to keep time to fill down on future hiring engagements

start tackling time to hire

If you follow steps one through three closely, you should be well on your way to reducing your time to hire. Or if you’re looking for a staffing partner for extra assistance, contact us to start working together today. 


* Randstad US, “randstad client survey executive summaries.” 2019.