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Your Hiring Pulse report for June 2023

Our monthly Hiring Pulse report is based on SMB hiring trends across the Workable network. See how your own business compares to the overall.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

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

Hiring Pulse

In May’s Hiring Pulse, we went all-in on how deep the candidate pool was. We even got melodramatically metaphorical with it, likening its depth to Lake Baikal, and wondering whether it’d get deeper than that – i.e. Mariana Trench, with its deepest point being nearly seven times as deep as the aforementioned Baikal.

We then talked aplenty about AI affecting the job landscape and how there didn’t seem to be as much talk about a recession as there was at the start of this year (which feels like a long, long time ago now).

Now, we’re nearly at the midway mark of 2023, and we’re going to explore our SMB hiring data and see if we can pull up some fresh insights.

Let’s get to work!

How we’re looking at data

We’ve adopted two 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:

  • Time to Fill (TTF)
  • Total Job Openings (JO) 
  • 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 first Tuesday of every month. Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates!

Be informed

Main highlights

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

  • Time to Fill is showing signs of stabilization, but remains at its lowest point in our dataset history
  • Job activity is particularly robust for small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees
  • Candidates Per Hire has come down significantly from last month’s surge – but remains at a high point

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 May are not included in this graph as they don’t yet have an “end date”. Only the jobs that are filled are included here.

Quick clarification, because people are asking: the data in this chart shows the trendline against the 2019 average as an index of 100, not the actual number of days in TTF.

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

The second quarter of 2023 continues to see relative stabilization in the Time to Fill trend compared with the first quarter, with May’s 80.8 just a small drop from April’s 83.1, which comes on the heels of March’s 81.8.

What’s really worth noting here is how low the TTF trend is in general. These past three months have seen what’s ultimately the fastest Time to Fill trend in our dataset dating back to 2019. What does this ultimately signify? It can be any of the following:

  1. A glut of candidates makes it easier to find the right hire in short order
  2. A shortage of candidates means hiring teams work faster to land the right hire before the competition snatches them up
  3. Hiring teams are getting faster at hiring because layoffs have reduced the number of touchpoints to a hire
  4. Hiring teams are becoming more efficient at hiring because they’ve digitally transformed their hiring process (hint, hint Workable and AI)
  5. Hiring teams are becoming more efficient at hiring in general

There are many other potential explanations, but the above is worth thinking about.

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 up to the end of May.

Once again, job activity sees a little bump: from 6.6 new job postings per company on average in April to a flat 7 in May. It’s not a lot to write home about, especially since historically a jump from April to May is relatively normal (with 2022 being an exception).

What’s more interesting than month-over-month change here is the relative busy-ness of job activity throughout 2023 compared with previous years. It’s busier this year for SMBs (<200 FTEs), but for enterprise-level companies with more than 200 FTEs, job activity is actually slower now than it was at this time last year.

We surmise it’s because larger companies tend to be slower in turnaround and response. Remember all that talk about a worldwide recession at the start of the year, followed by large-scale layoffs? And now, we see slower job posting activity as we approach the end of Q2 compared with the same time last year. That’s all part of the overall business plan.

Another way to look at it is that employees at larger companies may have greater job security in those companies. That, coupled with layoffs, will mean lower employee turnover – and therefore, fewer job postings.

Meanwhile, those smaller, nimbler companies that are more susceptible to turbulent rises and falls in the bottom line will also see greater turnover – we’re seeing that especially in the 1-50 FTE bucket where March’s 5.5 job postings per company, April’s 4.6, and May’s 4.9 are significantly higher than last year at this time (3.5, 3.3, and 3.3 respectively).

Let’s do a little bit of math to put that in perspective – let’s say the average company in the 1-50 FTE bucket has 30 full-time employees. An average of 4.9 job postings is 16% of that entire company’s workforce right there. That’s compared with last year’s 3.3 job postings being 11% of a company’s workforce.

That’s the difference between a turnover of one in seven employees this past May and one in nine employees in May 2022.

Pretty significant.

Now, let’s look at the candidate population for those jobs.

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. Again, remember, this is a trendline using the 2019 CPH average as a baseline of 100, not the actual number of candidates per hire.

Now that Let’s look at what’s going on here through May:

After many months – more than a year, even – of a Candidates Per Hire trend growing faster than a bamboo tree, we’re finally seeing that number take a plunge from one month to the next. Whether that’s due to April being so high that a drop-off was inevitable or whether that’s due to an actual depletion of the candidate pool, that’s for you to decide.

One thing we’re viscerally cognizant of, however, is that this drop in May could be related to the higher job postings in the previous chart – meaning, when there’s more job postings out there, naturally, candidates will get snatched up as well.

Another scenario worth thinking about: there are three major scenarios in which one might be looking for a job: first, they’re entering the job market because they’re entry-level, coming out of school, moved to a new location, or something similar.

Second, they’re transitioning jobs; simply put, they’re still employed but they’re looking for other jobs out there because it’s time for a change. Third, they’ve lost their job and they’re actively looking for a new one.

So, the increase in candidates per hire in general isn’t simply about a growing candidate pool. It’s also the result of those mass layoffs across the board, leading to candidates more aggressively and actively looking for a new job so they aren’t unemployed for a long period of time. Rather than selectively applying for job opportunities out there, they’re taking the spray-and-pray approach until someone hires them.

This, of course, will drive the CPH up – and it can also be challenging for employers because they need to suss out the real motive of a candidate in applying for their open role. Be careful thinking like this, however. Don’t jump to conclusions. A smartly built evaluation process will identify the real stars for your job.

What’s going on here?

Notice we didn’t touch on AI much at all this time around? While that’s still a hot topic, let’s not get too deep into this month since we’ve covered it so comprehensively in much of our other content. Plus, it remains a very nascent environment.

OK, fine. Let’s talk about AI.

Meanwhile, OpenAI, Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Apple, and the rest of them are investing heavily in AI and machine learning. Out of the 38 new unicorns (startups that break the $1B company value barrier), eight of them are in AI technologies.

If you’re in AI, that’s great, but if you’re in anything else, it’s a tough ocean to navigate. That same report states that overall funding of startups has dropped 44% from May 2022 to May 2023.

We’ll just keep a finger on that AI pulse for the forthcoming months, particularly on how typical skill sets will change going forward. For example, ChatGPT is considered even more valuable than a post-secondary degree by 86% of hiring managers according to an Intellgent.com survey.

And for entry-level candidates, a full 98% of hiring managers would like to see ChatGPT experience for positions where the AI tool is applicable.

These are interesting times. Catch up next month!

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 May!

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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