Improving your time to hire

krakenimages 376KN ISplE unsplash scaled 1 | Improving your time to hire
By Paula Smith | 3rd March 2021 | 11 min read

How quickly you can recruit for a role is not only influenced by the type of role you are recruiting for but the processes you have in place. Even the smallest of efforts made to improve your time to hire and hiring faster delivers a wealth of benefits. From saving money by reducing the amount of time and resources that need to be allocated to helping generate higher response rates, securing high-quality hires, and delivering a better candidate experience; time to hire is an important and influential metric.

The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) reports an average time to fill a role of 42 days, whilst other studies report an average of 27 working days. The figures fluctuate between industries with an average of 46 days to recruit in Hospitality, 43 in Education, 40 in Manufacturing, and 25 in Retail. However, regardless of the time it actually takes to recruit, candidate expectations are much much shorter, with almost a quarter (24%) of candidates expected to be hired within just two weeks after applying for a role, according to the latest research from Totaljobs.

So what can you do to help speed up your time to hire and reap the associated benefits? 

From vacancy authorisation right through to onboarding, a few small changes to your practices can have a significant impact on your overall performance. Here are our top tips to help optimise your processes and recruiter faster and smarter in 2021! 

Request To Recruit / Vacancy Authorisation Process 

If you need to ensure that the necessary authorisation is obtained before any vacancy goes live then technology needs to be in place to support this process. Sending information by email to each of your authorisers is notorious for creating bottlenecks and potentially unnecessary delays when trying to recruit quickly. 

The ability to identify where in the chain the authorisation is in real-time and push the process on if someone is away from the business can reduce this stage of the process significantly whilst ensuring an accurate audit trail is available at all times. With an intuitive application tracking system, you are able to design your vacancy authorisation process to reflect the needs of your organisation.

Advertising your Role 

Automatic posting to platforms and identification of top talent through AI is set to revolutionise this area of recruitment, with HR teams gaining immediate access to candidates that fit their requirements rather than having to use traditional advertising and search techniques to identify suitable matches. 

However, until these new methods are honed and polished to ensure that they reach across all platforms, recruiters will need to continue a multi-pronged approach to advertising their roles.  Adopting a targeted approach for every role will help you reach the right people much quicker than simply advertising in the same place every time and hoping for the best! 

Your focus should not just be about active job seekers, but passive job seekers too as up to 81% of employees would consider leaving their current job should the right opportunity arise. 

Think about which platforms will help you reach your specific target audience and ensure that you combine job boards with aggregators and social media to maximise your reach. Being able to harness the power of Social media as part of your advertising strategy is also important. This is integral to the future success of all organisations as 79% of job seekers say they are likely to use social media in their job search and this increases to 86% for younger job seekers*.(*The Open University, 2019)

If the stats from LinkedIn are anything to go by then networking should also play a key role in your search for talent. According to the world’s largest professional networking site, up to 85% of jobs are filled via networking, so taking the time to access the right groups and build relationships really can help to fill vacancies you have now but most probably in the future too! 

Optimising your Advert 

As well as ensuring your advert is optimised to maximise the appearance in search results, it is also vital to understand what candidates are looking for. This will ensure that anyone interested in the position can quickly ascertain if the role is suitable for them and apply without having to contact HR for further clarification. 

A survey conducted by CareerBuilder suggests that Salary is unsurprisingly the number one requirement for candidates with over 74% wanting to see this on the advert. They also want to know how you differ and what you can offer them over any other employer! 

Think about what sets you apart from your competition, what benefits would appeal to the kind of candidate you are looking for, and what is your employee value proposition and ensure that you maximise every opportunity to showcase your business in a manner that encourages candidates to apply straight away. 

Application Form 

With over 90% of candidates using mobile phones to look for their dream job, the need to support applications on the move has to be a priority for every organisation. It's no longer about ensuring that your application is mobile-friendly but that the process is as smooth and quick as possible to support the growing trend of candidates applying on their daily commute or whilst having no access to other devices. 

Unfortunately, candidates do not want to complete an application that takes longer than 20 minutes and over 60% of candidates are likely to abandon the recruitment process halfway through if it turns out too long or complex. This can lead to a huge loss in potential talent.  ( *CareerBuilder) 

In order to make the process as quick and simple as possible, many companies adopt a two-stage application process. This ensures that everyone can register their interest in the vacancy and submit basic information in just a matter of minutes. It also allows HR teams to establish if candidates have the essential skills or not before asking them to complete a more in-depth application form. For clients using the Quick Application process available with the networx ATS this has often contributed to a 40% increase in the number of applications received. 

For many years, HR teams were led to believe that long applications help weed out less qualified candidates, but in truth, they are more likely to put off top talent and passive candidates who are not so desperate to find a new role. 

The overall aim of your application form is to ensure that you have enough information from which you can make informed selection decisions, but without asking candidates to jump through hoops or dedicate a large amount of time to what might be one of many applications they are applying for or equally something that just caught their eye! 


Candidates often expect to secure a role relatively quickly; receiving an initial response to their application within a week and then attending interviews the following week after. 

In reality, this can be very different from what actually happens, but recruiters need to consider these expectations and where possible try to meet them. 

Again technology has to play a role in speeding up the time to hire, especially if companies are being inundated with high volumes of applications. 

Setting up essential and desirable filters and scoring mechanisms as well as alerts can allow HR or Line Managers to easily identify those candidates who match their requirements without having to review their full application or CV. The ability to focus attention on those that are most suitable ensures that the necessary interview process can be kick-started even if the role is still open. Top talent won't stay around long, especially if they are actively looking for a new role, so the quicker the interview process takes place the better! 


COVID-19 and the need to work from home have accelerated every organisation’s approach to virtual recruitment. The shift to an all-virtual hiring process has opened up a wealth of benefits to both candidates and employers with time savings being achieved at almost every stage. As a result, 81% of talent professionals agree that virtual recruiting will continue to happen post-COVID-19 and actually become the norm for over 70% of future recruitment needs. ( *LinkedIn) 

When it comes to interviews, video interviews and the ease and speed that they can be conducted have encouraged much greater technology adoption. Not only can employers conduct interviews from their homes, but candidates no longer have to book time off and travel to a physical location in order to demonstrate their suitability for the role. Due to the minimum level of disruption, video interviews can also be conducted at different times than physical face-to-face interviews helping speed up the process that little bit more! Can you support those who might prefer an interview to take place during the evening or at the weekend even? 

Internal Recruitment 

On many occasions, the ideal candidate for your role could actually already be an employee so tapping into your internal database can not only help reduce the cost of your hire but speed up your time to hire and the induction process as a whole. Unsurprisingly internal mobility has increased by 20% as a result of the pandemic ( *LinkedIn) 

Putting a role out internally, however, does need to be considered carefully. Do you advertise the role internally to employees before embarking on external advertising or if time is of the essence do you publish the vacancies across all platforms at the same time? 

Any cost savings that you could have potentially made by recruiting internally first could be counteracted by the use of additional advertising platforms, but if there is no interest internally then you could equally have added an extra week to your time to hire without securing a single candidate. 

Employee Referrals 

Just like internal recruitment, leveraging the power of your existing employees can help you reach potential candidates much quicker than traditional methods. 

Simply asking current employees to refer friends, family, and other associates for open positions within the company can also help reduce the time it takes to hire by decreasing the number of screening steps that would be normally required. If they have come from a similar organisation, for example, they may know of someone who may be interested and engage with them on your behalf and encourage them to apply. 

Employees that have been hired via a referral also tend to stay longer than those hired through other channels, so if you think that your employees could help you fill your next role, then the benefits are clear to see.


Having successfully secured your new hire, the last thing you need or want to happen is for the candidate to drop out, especially when you are trying to recruit quickly. With only 12% of employees agreeing that their companies do a good job of onboarding new hires, there is every opportunity that you may end up in this situation. In fact, one in five employees leave an organisation before completing their onboarding period, so perfecting your onboarding process with time to hire in mind has to be a key consideration!

Once a candidate has been offered the role then the nerves start and so do the potential counteroffers, so it is imperative that you have a structured and professional onboarding process that not only puts the candidate at ease but reassures them that they have made the right decision. Onboarding starts from the minute an offer has been made, and can continue many weeks or months after a new hire starts with your business. 

At networx our onboarding portal not only allows clients to create a personalised platform upon which they can view and sign documents but also immerse themselves into the culture and feel part of the team even before they start.

External Recruitment Providers 

Every year HR Directors are reportedly spending almost a month on recruiting so it’s no surprise that when time is of the essence, organisations often turn to external providers for support especially if recruiting for niche or difficult-to-fill roles. 

A fully managed recruitment service can not only help you attract, engage, manage, and onboard new hires to your business quicker than you can alone but also significantly reduce the amount of time HR professionals need to invest as part of the process too. 

Build your own DB for the future 

Far too often, companies neglect the opportunity to capitalise on the future potential of their current recruitment activity, but with simple technology you can quickly build a pool of talent that becomes your first point of call for every future opportunity. 

Combining intelligent keyword search functionality with company and personal talent folders companies can tap into a free source of candidates who they know have already expressed an interest in working for the company and remove the need to advertise altogether. 

Add AI to the equation and the process will become even quicker and smarter too! 

Although improving your speed to hire is just one of many challenges being faced by internal HR Teams, the impact of recruiting faster can be significant, allowing you not only to reach the best candidates but also deliver a first-class candidate experience that helps sets you apart from your competition. 

Check out IRIS networx solutions to find out how you improving your time to hire and delivering significant benefits across your organisation.