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What is the average time to hire by industry?

Time to hire is the number of days between when a job requisition is approved and the day an offer is accepted by the candidate. It measures the efficiency of your recruiting process. The average time to hire varies by industry and role, but it's crucial to optimize this metric to ensure a smooth and efficient hiring process.

Nikoletta Bika
Nikoletta Bika

Nikoletta holds an MSc in HR management and has written extensively about all things HR and recruiting.

How does your time to hire measure up against companies that compete for the same candidates as you? Here’s research on the average time to hire by industry and business function, plus a few ways to optimize your timeline.

How do you define time to hire?

Hiring takes anywhere from a few days to four months, according to LinkedIn’s 2017 global survey. To accurately compare yourself against the global and industry average, first define how you calculate time to hire. Time to hire can be:

  • Used interchangeably with time to fill. This means that time to hire is the number of days between opening a position and extending a job offer.
  • Separated from time to fill. This means your time to hire timeline begins when your best candidate applies or gets sourced. This metric shows you how quickly your hiring team was able to identify the best candidate.

For this post, assume that time to hire is synonymous to time to fill. But, Workable’s reporting suite is built to provide data on both metrics.

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Average time to hire by industry in the U.S

DHI Group, Inc., the global provider of specialized websites and services, releases monthly reports on average vacancy duration (which they define as the average days to fill a position or time to hire.) DHI uses data gathered through the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) by the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Here’s the average time to hire per industry based on data from January to July 2017:

Data taken from DHI Group’s Hiring Indicators September 2017 report
Industry Mean Vacancy Duration in working days (average time to hire)
Construction 12.7
Resources 17.9
Leisure and Hospitality 20.7
Wholesale and Retail 24.6
Warehouse, Transport and Utilities 24.9
Professional and Business Services 25.2
Non-Farm 28.3
Education 29.3
Manufacturing 30.7
Other Services 31.2
Information 33
Government 40.9
Financial Services 44.7
Health Services 49

Time to hire by function and location

Using your industry’s average time to hire as a benchmark is useful but won’t tell you the whole story. Each company hires for a variety of roles that may require hiring processes of various lengths. For example, construction companies may hire Construction Workers fast, but may take longer to hire IT Technicians who are more specialized. Knowing average time to hire by business function in your region will help you benchmark your hiring for different positions.

Workable’s Benchmark tool, which gathers anonymized data from millions of candidates processed in our system, presents time to hire categorized by business function and location. The following table shows average time to hire globally and in North America:

Business function Global time to hire US & Canada time to hire
Accounting/Finance 29 21
Construction 28 25
Consulting/Business Services 25 23
Design/Creative 19 27
Education 24 30
Healthcare 28 27
Hospitality 22 20
IT/Technology 30 30
Legal 32 28
Logistics/Supply Chain 12 7
Manufacturing 30 28
Other 25 28
Retail 21 20
Staffing/Recruiting 18 20
Travel 33 24

Industries with the longest and shortest time to hire

For additional research on average time to hire, look into Glassdoor’s 2017 global study on interview duration. Glassdoor calculated the average length of interview processes by consolidating self-reported data from employee reviews in 25 countries. This study provides data per country and city.

When reporting data for the U.S., Glassdoor used a more detailed industry breakdown than DHI. Here are the U.S. industries with the longest and shortest interview processes:

Data via Glassdoor’s 2017 survey
Industries with longest interview processes Industries with shortest interview processes
 Government  53.8 days  Restaurants & Bars  10.2 days
 Aerospace & Defense  32.6 days  Private Security  11.6 days
Energy & Utilities 28.8 days Supermarkets 12.3 days
Biotech & Pharmaceuticals 28.1 days Automotive 12.7 days

What time to hire industry comparisons tell you

Based on the data from DHI and Workable, where does your time to hire stand? Both hiring faster or slower than average may have drawbacks:

  • Hiring faster. If your hiring process is too short, you might not screen candidates thoroughly enough and risk making bad hires. Compare your quality of hire trends to your time to hire. Ask yourself whether there’s any correlation between hiring faster and hiring better qualified people. If a shorter time to hire negatively impacts the quality of your hiring, consider adding more screening stages (e.g. skills assessments.)
  • Hiring slower. Sometimes, your competitors may secure your best candidates before your hiring team extends them a job offer. Also, longer hiring processes might impact your candidate experience. Aim to speed up administrative tasks (e.g. using checklists to schedule interviews) and streamline communication to candidates (e.g. through email templates.)

How to optimize your hiring timeline

There’s value in trying to ensure that your time to hire doesn’t diverge much from your industry average. But, to make your process as efficient and effective as possible, invest in hiring tools and techniques. Here are two ways to do this:

  • Build talent pipelines. Talent pipelines are groups of candidates you have screened and engaged before a position opens. When you have a vacancy, you can immediately contact these candidates without having to wait for applications and conduct screening calls.
  • Use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS.) An ATS supports easy communication between candidates, recruiters and hiring teams. You can use built-in templates and calendar scheduling options that will reduce the time you spend on administrative tasks. Your ATS can also help you source (e.g. through tools like People Search,) keep track of metrics via detailed reports and post jobs to multiple job boards in just a few clicks.

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