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Your Hiring Pulse report for November 2022

In October’s Hiring Pulse, we took a different approach to the dataset, but what you’ll want to know is that active hiring teams can take a cautiously optimistic approach to recruitment if they’re looking for candidates.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

Hiring Pulse

This month, we take on a similar narrative, but we also cast light on some eye-opening trends in October’s dataset.

Let’s get right to it:

How we’re looking at data

If you missed last month’s update, we’ve established two new methodologies in how we look at the Hiring Pulse dataset. For Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire, we’re measuring each month using the average of 2019, the last “normal” year, as a baseline index of 100.

For job openings, we’re taking a different route – simply, the average number of job postings per company. This gives us the opportunity to gauge overall recruitment activity and whether that’s going up or down.

Want a more detailed methodology? Jump to the end and check it out.

As always, we look at the worldwide trends for three common SMB hiring metrics:

  1. Time to Fill (TTF)
  2. Total Job Openings
  3. Candidates per Hire (CPH)

Let’s start analyzing!

Don’t miss the pulse

This is part of a series of monthly hiring trend reports for SMBs that go out on the second Tuesday of every month. Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates!

Be informed

Table of Contents:

Main highlights

The three main highlights for this month’s Hiring Pulse are:

  • Time to Fill has hit a significant new low for 2022, and is also the biggest month-to-month drop since January to February
  • Candidates Per Hire keeps climbing and climbing
  • The last time we saw such a dramatic jump in CPH in consecutive months was in early-mid 2020

1. Time to Fill

For this report, Workable defines “Time to Fill” as the number of days from when a new job is opened to when that job opening is filled. It’s important to understand that definition: jobs that are still open as of the end of October are not included in this graph as they don’t yet have an “end date”. Only the jobs that are filled are included here.

Got that? Good. Let’s have a look at the monthly TTF trend against the average of 2019, based on jobs that have been filled from the start of 2022 through to the end of October 2022:

We are now at a new low for Time to Fill for the 2022 calendar year, with the average TTF for October just 88.4. It’s not just a new low – it’s significantly lower, a 5-point drop.

That’s the biggest month-to-month change in either direction since January’s 101.0 dropped 7.3 points to 93.7 for February.

The narrative we’ve carried over the last couple of months is that recession jitters are pushing the data all over the place. We’ve also said that those currently hiring were rushing to fill jobs throughout July and August as the Great Resignation opened up gaps in organizational workflows that urgently need to be filled.

After a jump in September to 93.4, the new and sudden drop can be explained as upcoming recession concerns leading to organizational (or departmental) restructurings leading to new gaps being opened up.

That’s a little different from gaps as a result of people quitting – in this case, it’s more as a result of optimization. Department leaders may be identifying ways to combine two roles into one or three roles into two as a cost-cutting measure – and these are new roles that need to be filled.

That’s one reason we may see new job openings in companies that have just laid people off. Which brings us to the second potential explanation: the layoffs themselves. Twitter wasn’t the first – just the most prominent to date. We’ve been learning about layoffs for some time now – and this leads to the market being flooded with high-quality candidates actively looking for new jobs right away.

This isn’t great for those who lost their jobs, but there’s an upside for those actively hiring. Candidate pools are now deeper than in the past. Employers don’t have to compete nearly as much or even work as much to source that newly available talent. So, it’s logistically quicker to fill those roles.

2. Total Job Openings

Total job openings represent the total number of job openings activated across the entire Workable network.

As stated above, we’re displaying this as an average of job postings per company in the network. And because this is not contingent on job opened/filled dates like TTF and Candidates per Hire, we can simply look at the raw job open numbers – and they’re a great indicator of the health of the economy.

This is a very simple graph and speaks for itself. Ultimately, what stands out is that the top two most active months for job postings via the Workable network are March with 6.5 jobs posted per company on average, and most recently October, with 6.4 jobs per company on average.

Regardless of the weird economic climate that we’re in, this chart rings as relatively normal according to our metrics history. The end of Q1 and the start of Q4 are busy hiring seasons and we’re seeing that in 2022 as well. In the past, we’ve seen that October jumps a bit, takes a dip in November, and then jumps again in December.

Let’s watch this space closely and see what it looks like as we round up 2022.

3. Candidates per Hire

Workable defines the number of candidates per hire (CPH) as, succinctly, the number of applicants for a job up to the point of that job being filled. Let’s look at what’s going on here through October:

Last month, we pointed out what we thought was a “pretty huge jump” in the CPH metric, somersaulting over the baseline index from 91.1 in July to 106.6 in August and 106.8 in September.

And now? It’s gone even higher – to 112.8 in October.

That’s the highest that it’s been since the metric hit 115.2 in March 2021. And the CPH metric was below the baseline from August 2021 all the way to this past July. It’s only in the last three months that we’ve seen such a dramatic reversal in CPH.

For context: in January and February 2020, the metric stood at 93.9 and 88.7 respectively. It then jumped to 102.6 in March 2020 and stayed above the baseline for 14 consecutive months to April 2021. In the midst of that was five straight 120-and-higher months from June to October 2020. July 2020 was 137.0 and October 2020 was 136.5.

This is all pandemic-related, of course. March 2020 saw many workers moved to remote work or furloughed, as a stopgap measure. When it became clear that COVID-19 wasn’t going away anytime soon, companies resorted to the painful process of layoffs en masse. This jump in CPH is the result.

Why are we talking about this two years later? Because we’re seeing similarities in how the CPH is changing now. Recession fears started a few months ago – and layoffs then started happening after that. Combine that with fewer jobs being posted, and the CPH starts to grow again. Just like it did in 2020.

What’s going on here?

Honestly, Twitter is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on here. Agree or disagree with Elon Musk if you will, but what’s happening in the e-hallways of that social media monolith is just a microcosm of what’s happening out there.

Layoffs are happening left, right, and center – including reports of Facebook parent Meta also turning to layoffs for the first time in its history. Lyft and Stripe are also laying off people, and Apple and Amazon are freezing their hiring processes. There is, of course, a trickle-down effect.

And, as mentioned above, those layoffs mean tens – likely hundreds – of thousands of new candidates flooding the market. This isn’t Big Quit material – these are people who are involuntarily severed from their income lifeline, and after a frustrated sob in the bathtub for an evening, are rolling up their sleeves and jumping right back into the job fray the next day.

The result is what we’re seeing here.

However, we have some kind-of good news for you. Much of the recession talk is still anticipatory, and different experts are saying different things. While more execs are bringing up the recession in their quarterly earnings conference calls, stock speculators at sites such as Yahoo! Finance are saying the talk of a recession may be greatly exaggerated and fiscal pundits at Goldman Sachs suggest we’re not necessarily doomed to a recession.

Ultimately, there isn’t clear agreement on what’s going to happen. While we know businesses don’t appreciate uncertainty, this uncertainty is good if anything. And organizations seem to be responding aggressively ahead of what *might* happen.

Let’s think of it this way: if you see your kid approaching a stove and yell at them not to touch it, and then you realize the stove wasn’t actually hot, then is that a good thing? Yes, it is. It’s good that you took the precautionary measure even if you weren’t entirely sure of the stove’s setting at that time, because the end result is the same: your kid doesn’t get burned.

In that spirit, all this anticipation and action ahead of what may be a recession could be seen as a good thing.

Let’s keep one eye on the overall conversation around recessions and the other eye on upcoming Hiring Pulse data trends, and keep all this in mind.

There’s always something in all this that can help us move forward with confidence even if we’re not sure of the danger of the hot stove.

Thoughts, comments, disagreements? Send them to [email protected], with “Hiring Pulse” in the subject heading. We’ll share the best feedback in an upcoming report. Watch for our next Hiring Pulse in November!

The Hiring Pulse: Methodology

Because one of the three metrics (Job Openings) is different from the other two metrics (Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire), we’re adopting two very distinct methodologies.

To bring the best insights to small and medium (and enterprise-level) businesses worldwide, here’s what we’re doing with the Job Openings metric: we’re taking the number of job openings in a given month and dividing that by the number of active companies in our dataset, and posting that as an average. For example, if July 2022 shows the average Job Openings per company as 7.7, that simply means each company posted an average of 7.7 jobs that month.

For the Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire metrics, we’re comparing a specific month’s trend against the full average of 2019, and we show the result using that 2019 average as a baseline index of 100. For example, if July 2022 shows an average Time to Fill of 30 days for all jobs, and the monthly average for all of 2019 is 28, we present the result for July 2022 as 107.1 – in other words, 7.1% higher than the average of 2019.

And we chose 2019 as the baseline because, frankly, that’s the last normal year before the pandemic started to present challenges to data analysis among other things.

The majority of the data is sourced from businesses across the Workable network, making it a powerful resource for SMBs when planning their own hiring strategy.

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