Walking the Time-to-Hire Tightrope

Kamal Ahluwalia
Kamal Ahluwalia

Filling positions quickly saves money, but the true story is more complicated.

Having empty positions in an organization is enormously expensive. The reasons are varied: some work that the Open Role is responsible for may go undone, new opportunities may be missed, and the effectiveness of existing employees is reduced as they’re forced to take on extra work or go without help. Time spent nurturing candidate relationships and converting prospects into signed employees also quickly raises the bill. As a result, there is inherent pressure in the recruiting process to fill open positions as quickly as possible.

Time-to-hire has traditionally been one of the key metrics used by recruiting staff to evaluate their efforts and communicate them to management—as well as to communicate the need for more resources to minimize time-to-hire. However, while the cost pressures to reduce time-to-hire may be high, there are costs associated with expediting the hiring process as well. Less-than-ideal candidates may prove expensive in the long run as they underperform, require more training than expected, or leave the role quickly (starting the cycle over again). With unlimited time, any recruiter could find the perfect candidate, but with a ticking clock and a constantly mounting recruiting bill, waiting for “the one” doesn’t always make sense either.

Walking this tightrope between minimizing time-to-hire and securing quality candidates that will maximize long-run investment is part of the art of recruiting. Doing it well often takes a lot of experience, but even the experienced hand can be blind to certain pieces of the immense jigsaw puzzle of matching the candidate to a position. With increased recruiting resources, including new technologies like AI, recruiters can get a more complete picture of this puzzle, and more quickly match high-quality candidates to positions.

Time-to-hire: the finer points

Evaluating time-to-hire costs can be quite straightforward: reducing it represented savings. However, by drilling down into what increases the components of time-to-hire, recruiting teams can get a better idea of where to hone their efforts to best reduce long-term costs.


For example, sourcing candidates often take a lot of legwork, particularly when trying to fill highly technical roles or reaching out to passive candidates. Experienced recruiters spend a lot of time networking because they know that reaching for their Rolodex is far more effective than sending a cold message. It’s also far easier to get someone’s attention when they’re actively looking for a job, so being able to focus on this type of candidate can improve response rates and reduce time-to-hire.

By fully understanding the costs of sourcing, organizations can get an idea of how much they could save by improving their outreach to candidates who are actively looking, and who are uniquely qualified for a role.

The open position

The other side of the time-to-hire cost equation is the cost of an open seat. Quantifying this cost by determining how much value a filled role could bring to an organization offers a baseline against which improvements in time-to-hire can be evaluated.

The new recruiting calculus

Understanding the concrete costs of the components of the hiring process can give a more detailed picture of how new technologies and approaches can reduce the long-term costs associated with walking the time-to-market tightrope. For example, Eightfold’s Talent Intelligence Platform (TIP) allows recruiters to better reach candidates that are more interested, available, and qualified for a position. This has been shown to improve cost factors like the open rate of messages.

Beyond human capabilities

Some of the savings that new technologies like Eightfold’s Platform can offer can be calculated easily, but others are a little more complex. For example, the Platform analyzes a candidate’s career path to match them with positions that make sense for their trajectory. These kinds of retention-oriented features are aimed at reducing total time-to-hire by minimizing positions opening up unexpectedly and change the whole scope of time-to-hire efficiency by transcending what human recruiters are capable of.

The Platform also keeps track of all interactions with candidates, which is highly useful information. For example, if someone was the second choice for a position a year ago, they’re likely to be highly responsive if a similar position opens up today. These kinds of features enhance ever-critical networking to superhuman levels.

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